It has become commonplace to hear the terms “Christian Yoga”, “Holy Yoga” and I have even heard “Yoga for Jesus”. It seems it’s been all the rage for a while now, cool and hip to be a part of a yoga class. Yet, I would venture to say most people, including Christians have some knowledge that yoga is a practice derived from eastern religion. In fact, I’ve heard a lot of believers saying things in defense like“Oh, I am just doing the movements….it’s just stretching. I am not participating in the ‘religious’ aspect.” But can one really separate the two – the physical and spiritual aspects of yoga?
Let’s first take a look at what those who practice yoga in both aspects (spiritual & physical) say about it themselves – From Self-Realization Fellowship (a new age website): ……
“The word yoga itself means “union”: of the individual consciousness or soul with the Universal Consciousness or Spirit. Though many people think of yoga only as physical exercises — the asanas or postures that have gained widespread popularity in recent decades — these are actually only the most superficial aspect of this profound science of unfolding the infinite potentials of the human mind and soul.”
“By practicing the step-by-step methods of Yoga taking nothing for granted on emotional grounds or through blind faith we come to know our oneness with the Infinite Intelligence, Power, and Joy which gives life to all and which is the essence of our own Self.”
The problem is that yoga is spiritual in nature. The very word yoga itself is derived from a loose translation of a Sanskrit term meaning to yoke or to unite. To yoke with what? The intent of the practice of all yoga is union with ultimate reality or divine force, through the realization of the divine/God-self (often called “Self-realization”). Take this quote from the Yoga Journal: “Connecting the mind, body, and breath helps us to direct our attention inward. Through this process of inward attention, we learn to recognize our habitual thought patterns without labeling them, judging them, or trying to change them. We become more aware of our experiences from moment to moment. The awareness that we cultivate is what makes yoga a practice, rather than a task or a goal to be completed. Your body will most likely become much more flexible by doing yoga, and so will your mind.” As one can see, Yoga is more than just a physical exercise and even from first glance without getting into the spiritual aspects we see self…self…self!
There are actually many forms of yoga, although all forms are a spiritual path in Hinduism. The yoga most practiced by Christians is what is called Hatha Yoga. The poses themselves are often depictions of Hindu deities, and the hand positions mimic the hand positions seen on the statues of Hindu gods. These hand positions are called mudras and are thought to help manipulate and channel prana, a supposed divine force or breath of the universe.
The purpose of Hatha Yoga is not physical and it is not to relax or simply stretch; it is part of a complex spiritual path of preparation for more advanced meditative states and also to lead one to the realization that the true self is divine (the Atman). The goal is to dis-identify with the body and self as one’s real identity in order to reach a state of Self-realization; that is, to realize the divine nature of Self.
We must also keep in mind that the practice of yoga in general was designed to produce a pagan and occult experience. Therefore, if one is deceived into thinking it’s possible to practice yoga simply for exercise you may in fact find yourself experiencing spiritual things that are unintentional on your part. As believers, why would we want to open our minds to false teachings and any spirit other than the Holy Spirit?
You may say…“But, they don’t use the same terminology as real yoga classes.” True, many yoga classes when described as ‘Christian’ do not use the Eastern terms when teaching, but disguise these this other terms that sound innocuous, such as “breathing techniques” for pranayama; “energy points or centers” for chakras; “center” for meditation; “poses” for asanas, etc. Hhmmm…sounds like deception to me and we know satan is at the root of all deception. “But, they talk about God and even Jesus in my ‘Christian Yoga’ class.” Do you know exactly what Jesus they are speaking of? If you think it is Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, the Messiah, Son of the living God that exists as fully God and fully man, I am afraid you are once again decieved. Take a look at this outright blasphemous information titled “The Hidden Truths in the Gospels” from the same new age website quoted above – Self-Realization Fellowship
Take a look at some of the quotes related to Hatha Yoga below. These quotes also speak about the kundalini energy/spirit which I have posted about before, linking it to the modern day ‘charismania’ movement in the church.
“The sitting postures [asanas] act as natural ‘tranquillizers’ for the body, and when the physical vehicle is still, the mind soon follows.” Yoga for Dummies (p. 39)
“Our tradition holds that if you meditate deeply enough, hatha Yoga will emerge from the inside out . . . That’s what happened to Swami Kripalu. At age 38, his evolutionary kundalini energy awoke, and his body spontaneously performed all of these postures.” Richard Faulds, a senior Yoga teacher at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge, Mass. (Yoga Journal, November 2008, p. 118).
“Pranayama is considered as a fast way to awaken the kundalini. But if one is not prepared to take on this high level energy awakening then this may have negative effects on mind and body. So Pranayama is always practiced under the guidance of Guru.” According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, “one of the most authentic text books on Hatha Yoga, written in 1200 AD by Swami Swatmarama, a great Yoga Guru who formulated the principles of Hatha Yoga and systematically explained various techniques, its effects on body, mind and states of consciousness.” Fromhttp://www.Yogapoint.com/info/article11.htm
“Let us see the meaning of word Hatha, it is made up of Ha + Tha. ‘Ha’ means Pingala Nadi (sun principle) or right nostril and ‘tha’ means Ida nadi, (moon principle) or left nostril. Nadi means psychic passage of energy which can be compared with nerves in physical body. Hatha means balance of Ida and Pingala Nadis, or balancing of mental energy of Ida and Vital / physical energy of Pingala Nadi. . . . The basic purpose of Hatha Yoga is to purify the Ida and Pingala Nadis and then uniting these 2 forces with the third Psychic Nadi Sushumna, which carries Kundalini at Ajna Chakra (eyebrow center).” According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. From http://www.Yogapoint.com/info/article11.htm.
So, lets take a look at the truth of God’s word on why we as followers of Christ should not participate in any form of yoga. The list below is not exhaustive, but honestly even just one should be enough to KEEP US AWAY!
Jesus is the only way to salvation. Salvation is not found in any other religious system, practice or founder. John 14:6, Acts 4:12
We are not saved from any works that we can do ourselves. It’s all by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior. Ephesians 2:8-10
We as believers are to be different than the world Romans 12:1-2. Even if a Christian could practice yoga (for physical health) without any of the spiritual practices getting involved (and that is a big IF), would you want to take the chance of damaging your witness to non-believers falsely showing them that participating in yoga is acceptable for believers? Or how about your Christian brothers and sisters that may not know the truth, would it be ok to cause them to stumble? Luke 17:1-2
As Christians we are to meditate only on God and His Word. We are not to focus on ourselves or to clear our minds. When one clears his mind, he is opening himself up to demonic powers. We are to only let our minds dwell on Godly things and meditate on Scripture. Psalm 1:1-3, Psalm 119:15, Phillipians 4:8.
As followers of Christ we are to abstain from all appearances of evil 1 Thessalonians 5:22. So, while some may say yoga itself on the outside doesn’t “appear” evil, as I stated in the beginning of this post the origins of yoga are well known to be rooted in eastern religions. Let’s be honest, it is not that we don’t know this…its that the lines between that which is holy and that which is evil have become dangerously blurred.
So, after reading this post and after the personal study I hope you would do yourself…if you are a Christian and would still consider participating and/or advocating any form of yoga I would ask the question why?
If it is truly not to be part of the “latest trend” or to be a conforming Christian which unfortunately is becoming more common every day, then again I ask you why? It absolutely can NOT simply be about the physical exercise and/or stretching benefits alone. If that’s the case, there are thousands of other ways you can become fit, lean and flexible and we know this. Why choose one that is strongly rooted in another religion, opens up your mind to receiving false spirits, focuses on other gods and does not resemble any of the teachings from Jesus Christ in His word?
One last article which I found very eye opening is one by Yogi Baba Prem, who is a Hindu Yogi trained in the traditional gurukural system. He writes about how he was shocked himself to find a flyer advertising ‘Christian Yoga’ and the reasoning he came up with on why a follower of Christ would participate in a Hindu practice. This article speaks volumes about the message we are sending to others. There is no Christian Yoga – by Yogi Baba Prem.
In Truth and Love,