Yoga Is Not For Christians
Health and fitness in the last 15 or so years has become increasingly mixed with New Age spirituality. It is no longer just science about burning calories and fat, and becoming healthier in the body. It is now a “mind body” experience. A “holistic” experience. There is nothing wrong with a healthy mind and body. But it has gone beyond just mind and body and into spirit. So now it is “mind, body, spirit” that people think they are nurturing when doing fitness activities. This attitude is mostly promoted by practitioners of Yoga.
The website hinduwisdom.info states,
“Yoga sutra consists of two words only: yogash chitta-critti-nirodah, which may be translated: “Yoga is the cessation of agitation of the consciousness.”
The word yoga is derived from the root yuj, which means to unite or to join together. The practice of yoga may lead to the union of the human with the divine – all within the self. The aim of yoga is the transformation of human beings from their natural form to a perfected form. The Yogic practices originated in the primordial depths of India’s past. From this early period the inner attitudes and disciplines which were later identified and given orderly expression by Patanjali.
According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, the classical text on yoga, the purpose of yoga is to lead to a silence of the mind (1.2). This silence is the prerequisite for the mind to be able to accurately reflect objective reality without its own subjective distortions. Yoga does not create this reality, which is above the mind, but only prepares the mind to apprehend it, by assisting in the transformation of the mind – from an ordinary mind full of noise, like a whole army of frenzied and drunken monkeys – to a still mind.” (http://www.hinduwisdom.info/Yoga_and_Hindu_Philosophy.htm)
It also expresses: “Yoga is an integral part of the Hindu religion. There is a saying: “There is no Yoga without Hinduism and no Hinduism without Yoga.”
I took a Yoga class before at the YMCA because I worked there teaching Taekwondo and Kickboxing. I was waiting around for my class to start and followed along. Yes, the movements and poses they do can sometimes be challenging or build isolated muscles strength by various holds. It can also increase flexibility. This class was pretty much Yoga for yuppies and not a deeply spiritual class. The instructor did use terms that sounded new age and other expressions typical of Yoga instructors. But it was therapeutic in nature and also meditative. Like lying on your back and closing your eyes etc. Some of these drills can be used in a positive way but with Yoga’s historic roots it is obvious such classes are a gateway to New Age belief and Hinduism. This is something the Christian needs to avoid at all costs and not be open to. Of course I did not become demon possessed simply because I took a silly Yoga class for 1 hour and neither would anyone else. But over time becoming open to such ideas and getting deeper into the art you could very well open yourself up to unbiblical spiritual beliefs that can have a serous effect on you.
Yoga is simply a gateway into the eastern mystical traditions for the western culture. It is a shame many churches hold Yoga classes for their congregations. Yoga is simply a way that Satan uses to influence people and to soften their views of mysticism, new age, and occultic practices. We should shun it.
When I came back from the Philippines and was walking out of Los Angeles International Airport a Hare Krisha cult memeber gave me a tract talking about reincarnation. I took it home to see what they believe. Harre Krishna is a cult of Hinduism started in New York city by an Indian named Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. It has gone international and has members worldwide. It is a modern Hindu sect. The man at the airport randomly wanted to speak to me and handed me several books. I had no clue what he wanted and I said, “Huh? You are giving these to me?” Then he demanded money and I said, “Money? No way! And gave them back.” He was pretty dumb about it. He was behaving in the manner of “No money? Then you cannot have these.” But he did give me a small booklet titles “Beyond Birth and Death.” It says i was written by “His divine grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.”
Chapter 2 of this booklet mentions some interesting things that Christians who are thinking about practicing Yoga should consider:
“There are different kinds of transcendentalists, who are called yogis— hatha-yogis, jnana-yogis, dhyana-yogis, and bhakti-yogis— and all of them are eligible to be transferred to the spiritual world. The word yoga means “to link up,” and the yoga systems are meant to enable us to link with the transcendental world. As mentioned in the previous chapter, originally we are all connected to the Supreme Lord, but now we have been affected by material contamination. The process is that we have to return to the spiritual world, and the process of linking up is called yoga. Another meaning of the word yoga is “plus.” At the resent moment we are minus God, or minus the Supreme. When we add Krsna— or God— to our lives, this human form of life becomes perfect.” (p. 12)
It states further:
“‘One who, at the time of death, fixes his life air between the eyebrows and, (sic) by the strength of yoga, with an undeviating mind, engages himself in remembering the Supreme Lord in full devotion, will certainly attain to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.’ (Bg. 8.10 [meaning Bhagavad Gita 8.10 the popular 700 verse Hindu Scriptural book] ).” (p. 12-13)
This booklet goes on to explain concepts of Yoga helping the practitioner do transcendental meditation and traveling to planets and other such things and quoting more from the Bhagavad Gita. Such things described in the Hare Krishna booklet I received are clearly unbiblical and contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A person cannot attain perfection doing physical movements and meditating. A person does not have the divine “within self” and we do not have to return to a spiritual world. Humans are not connected to the “Supreme Lord” unless they are Christians who have the Holy Spirit living in them. Non-Christians are dead in their sins and not at all connected to God until they receive the Gospel message of repentance of their sins and faith in Christ for salvation. And most certainly no one is connected to a false god called Krishna or Krsna whom they deem in the “Supreme Lord.” That is idolatry.
It is clear Christians should NOT participate in Yoga or promote it. Before the Yoga trend athletes have always done various deep stretching, deep breathing, and other positive physical activities. They did not need a “spiritual” attribute to their athletic training. The Bible says, in 1 Timothy 4:8 expresses, “for the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. ” Paul was clearly teaching that there is a separation from physical training and spiritual training. They are different. The soul and body are not 1 thing. They are separate things. We are stuck in our flesh in this sinful body, and while we live we should do physical training to stay healthy and last longer for the purposes of God. But physical training itself does not save you or benefit you eternally. Our bodies still die. The Bible of course warns us to stay away from unhealthy practices such as gluttony, laziness, drunkenness and other things that give the human body bad health. God does want us to work our bodies and maintain health. But what is more beneficial is true spiritual training and learning from God’s word. It is separate. Practices like Yoga try to combine them and make them one. This is wrong.
There are various physical arts, systems, and styles that a human being can practice. Not all of them are satanic like Yoga. Yes, anything not biblical and contrary to the gospel truth is Satanic and demonic. It was brought fourth by lies to deceive and soften people to sin. Yoga fits this. On the other hand, dancing styles, gymnastics, and various sports are not sinful or full of false religion. Martial arts are also positive and non-religious. The thing about martial arts is uptight legalists do not understand the difference between culture and religion. They assume eastern customs such as bowing to the instructor, or to flags or photos of previous masters are religious worship. This is not true. It is the same as the military saluting those soldiers who died before them and saluting the flags and symbols of their regiments. In martial arts it is purely physical activity unless you practice a style that incorporates Buddhism or another religion into your training. This can happen in certain styles, but one can ignore it and train the self defense techniques. I personally would not recommend any Christian training in a system that promotes a false religion as mandatory study.
In different parts of the world there are different dominate religions. Within a culture a religion does affect certain customs or behaviors, but not every behavior is sinful simply because of a dominant religion. Certain philosophies or ideas are not inherently sinful either. While martial arts can easily be separated from religions (and should be), Yoga cannot. It is strictly a religious practice for Hinduism. It should be avoided. Christians should instead do conditioning classes with deep stretching and a focus on breathing. Martial arts offer this. In Taekwondo I teach my students to stretch in all kinds of ways, Yoga uses some of the same poses as various athletic training, but the training itself does not need Yoga to benefit.