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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Yoga and the Christian



I have started to write this post several times over the last several months and each time I have hesitated and deleted it. This has been a touchy subject for me lately, and I wanted to wait until I felt I could write about this without coming off too angry.


See, as a Christian I very often come up against harsh criticism from other"Christians" about my choice to practice yoga.


Those who feel Christians shouldn't practice yoga come up with some of the most far fetched and outlandish reasons I have ever heard. I have yet to hear a convincing argument against it, and until I do, I will continue my yoga practice in good conscience. Anyway, I don't need my fellow mans approval, I seek only approval from my Creator, and unless He convicts me otherwise.....


Many have told me how they have had to help cast out demonic spirits in people who once practiced yoga! I don't see how this can be, because my understanding is that yoga does have Hindu roots, and later Buddhist, but never in my research have I found satanists practicing yoga! So, these poor souls acquired these spirits(if that was even the case!) elsewhere from something else they were doing in their lives, but certainly not from practicing yoga!!


Many have made the comment "I don't understand how a Christian can in good conscience practice yoga." This is of course due to the roots in other religions. Well, fellow christian, I in good conscience practice yoga, the same way you celebrate pagan holidays such as Christmas or Halloween, but by telling Bible stories or passing out tracts feel you "Christianize" it, therefore making it ok. Why is it that as a Christian, you feel it is ok to celebrate holidays that have pagan roots, yet it's not ok to practice an exercise that has roots in other cultures or religions? That my friend I just don't understand!


If you do an Internet search on the topic of Christians and Yoga you will find hundreds of articles telling you how "dangerous" it is, and "evil" and all sorts of other critical articles. But, I warn others to take them with a grain of salt, as many are written by individuals trying to sell you their own "christian" yoga "alternative" DVDs.


I have been practicing yoga for 3-4 years now and have yet to come across and class, DVD or other instruction that deals with the "religious" or "spiritual" aspects of yoga. It's out there I am sure, but here in America, at your typical 24 Hour Fitness or Golds Gym your going to be hard pressed to find it! It is rare to even find an instructor who uses the traditional Sanskrit names for the poses, most have been modernized to the point they are hardly recognizable anymore.


I do know, for me, my best prayer times are following my yoga practice. I have a racing and wandering mind, I can rarely hold a thought for more than a few seconds without moving on to another, and this sadly effects my prayer life greatly. BUT after a good yoga practice, my mind for those following moments is able to stop fluctuating long enough for me to have some sincere, serious prayer time!


I know other Christians who practice yoga, that are literally praising God though out their workout, thanking Him for the ability to be able to move, thanking Him for their bodies. Hmmm...but somehow this is all going to evoke evil spirits huh??


There are lots of great Christian Yoga instructors out there, and lots of great Christian Yoga DVDs that one can use. I like these much better than the so-called "christian alternatives." Later I will share about a these on another post.


"Judge not lest ye be judged", "When you point your finger at someone, you got 3 pointing back at you!" I wish my fellow Christians would consider these things before they are so quick to judge me for what I choose to do. I am thankful ,that in the end it is my Creator judging me, and not my fellow man, or I'd already be condemned!!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well written article. Most of those who criticize Yoga have never actually investigated the non-religious therapeutic aspects which Yoga. As for me, I consider myself a Buddhist-Christian. I believe in God/Jesus and I live by the noble eight-fold path of Buddhism. Christianity takes care of my spiritual needs and Buddhism helps me to live properly in this trouble world. My religion is Christianity but, my philosophy is Buddhism. Nothing wrong with this way of thinking and when someone attempts to tell me my way of thinking is wrong, I just pass off their comments as derived from lack of understanding and/or lack of knowledge. Yoga is a great activity to enhance your thoughts, body and your Christian spirituality. Keep up the good work.

Tara B. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Joseph said...

Great article! I couldn't agree more. As St. Paul told the assembly in Athens as recorded in Acts, the followers of Jesus reject nothing that is true and wise and life-affirming in other religions. And as Peter told the crowd about the righteous Gentile Cornelius, "I see how true it is that God shows no partiality. Rather, the man of any nation who fears God and acts uprightly is acceptable to him (Acts 10: 34)."

Yoga is a physical and spiritual discipline that can restore the mystical dimension of Christianity that has been largely lost in our consumer-oriented churches. Until the churches recover a life of prayer and contemplation, people will seek it where they can -- in a yoga or Zen meditation class.

Namaste,

Robert Joseph