“Do you think there is anything un-Christian about Yoga?”

Via on May 25, 2012

Via Tumblr:

^ Except, apparently, yoga.

I ran across the below question n’answer on Tumblr today.

While there is truth to this answer—yoga is indeed rooted in a spiritual tradition, though those roots have withered in present day America—what’s sad to me is that some Christians, in believing their path to “own” exclusive rights to God’s truth, exile themselves from the rest of God’s creation, and the diverse riches of human history.

The Christians I know and love and who inspire me fearlessly and joyfully embrace, and judge others only by our love, or lack thereof.

In any case, it’s an interesting question, and answer, worthy of respectful consideration. ~ ed.

~

Do you think there is anything unchristian about Yoga? I don’t know much about it, other than vaguely remembering hearing it is tied to meditation or something spiritual already. I have some health problems related to breathing, and would like to be more limber and strong, so I thought yoga might be something to look into.

Oh yes I do.  I would choose pilates as a safe religion free exercise.  For many Christians in the West who don’t understand the history behind it, yoga is simply a means of physical exercise and strengthening and improving flexibility of the muscles. However, the philosophy behind yoga is much more than physically improving oneself. It is an ancient practice derived from India, believed to be the path to spiritual growth and enlightenment.

The word “yoga” means “union,” and the goal is to unite one’s transitory (temporary) self with the infinite Brahman, the Hindu concept of “God.” This god is not a literal being, but is an impersonal spiritual substance that is one with nature and the cosmos. This view is called “pantheism,” the belief that everything is God and that reality consists only of the universe and nature. Because everything is God, the yoga philosophy makes no distinction between man and God.

Hatha yoga is the aspect of yoga which focuses on the physical body through special postures, breathing exercises, and concentration or meditation. It is a means to prepare the body for the spiritual exercises, with fewer obstacles, in order to achieve enlightenment. The practice of yoga is based on the belief that man and God are one. It is little more than self-worship disguised as a high level of spirituality.

The question becomes, is it possible for a Christian to isolate the physical aspects of yoga as simply a method of exercise, without incorporating the spirituality or philosophy behind it? Yoga originated with a blatantly anti-Christian philosophy, and that philosophy has not changed. It teaches one to focus on oneself instead of on the one true God. It encourages its participants to seek the answers to life’s difficult questions within their own conscience instead of in the Word of God. It also leaves one open to deception from God’s enemy, who searches for victims that he can turn away from God (1 Peter 5:8).

Whatever we do should be done for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31), and we would be wise to heed the words of the apostle Paul: “Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8, NLT).  God bless you!!! :):)

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11 Responses to ““Do you think there is anything un-Christian about Yoga?””

  1. AdamZodiac1 says:

    "It encourages its participants to seek the answers to life’s difficult questions within their own conscience instead of in the Word of God". Really? I'm sure the distinguished author of this article would also take issue with Christians who seek the Holy Spirit, or 'the peace of God which passeth all understanding'.(Philippians 4:7 ). Yoga philosophy from the Baghavad Gita to Patanjali, endorses personalized worship of a holy figure, irrespective of sectarian difference: 'Behold, the kingdom of God is within you'. (Luke 17:21)

  2. Padma Kadag says:

    I think that it is more accurate to say, "There is no yoga in christianity". This is not a slur on christianity. Day to day christianity offers very little in "method". I do not think it accurate to quote the "Essenes" nor to pull out passages of Jesus in the wilderness, nor to compare the crucifixion "pose" to something yogic. Lets define Yoga first before we start reading into christian philosophical likenesses. There are many kinds of yogas and christianity, as practiced today by the masses, reflects nothing yogic other than attempting to unite with jesus.

  3. SwamiMike says:

    So silly. The minister in the town next to me was just certified as a Bhakti Yoga instructor. I'll ask her. :/

  4. Totally disagree with author’s concept.

  5. To even ask this question shows that yoga is misunderstood. Yoga has always been sets of techniques which are to be used in the context of ones specific worldview. Yoga DOES NOT have its own worldview because there is NO one kind of yoga. To say yoga philosophy is an oxymoron, a quick survey of the the various traditions of yoga is proof that there is NO one yoga philosophy. Much of what we term as yoga in this country (USA) is taught through the lens of Brahmanical, Neo-Advaita Vedantic philosophy. In that worldview, Brahmān is considered to be the Ultimate Reality ground of all being. Yoga in that context is the use of techniques (generally neo-tantric/Hatha Yogic) to realize the illusory nature of everyday reality which lacks any inherent substance that is not Brahmān.

    Vaishnavism uses yoga differently. Shaivism using yoga differently. Various sects of Buddhism use yoga differently. Shaktism uses yoga differently. South Indian Smartha Brahmins use yoga differently. The list goes on and on. So, if a Christian wants to use the techniques of yoga to further some aspect of their own worldview, it is perfectly acceptable. Yoga is NOT inherently "Hindu"; in the same way that Christianity is NOT inherently Jewish even though Jesus was Jewish. Nor do Muslims count themselves as inherently Jewish because they share Abrahman.

  6. And further more, to the Christian responder of the question: saying that yoga means union is no accurate to all systems of yoga. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, one early text of the yoga tradition, yoga DOES NOT mean union. In fact, in Patanjala Yoga, yoga means dis-union. Yoga, according to Patanjali, is the dis-union from the mind's identification habit. When that happens, the reality of phenomenal or mental experience shines forth free of your labels, assumptions, and biases. Yoga, according to Patanjali is crystal clear, Hi-Definition perception. What is Hindu about that?

  7. Ashley says:

    I am a Christian and I am a yoga instructor. I have been criticized before for my choice of doing yoga. But I wouldn't choose any other thing. I absolutely love yoga, and it has changed my life. I do hot yoga and I don't see anything wrong with it. In fact, it has brought my closer to God. So I think for everyone who chooses to judge people for doing yoga or teaching yoga due to religious reasons are obviously not very religious themselves. A preacher once asked me, "What do you think Jesus would think of you teaching and doing yoga?" And my response was, "I think He would be doing yoga right beside me." People these days just find ways to judge others and criticize what they don't know, when in reality yoga has changed my life and so many others in so many positive ways. I would never stop doing yoga for any reason ever. If someone doesn't agree with what you are doing, then they are misunderstood. I wouldn't worry about what they think, it only matters what you think about yourself. And if you feel good and happy doing yoga, then keep on doing it. I feel happier and healthier than I have in my entire life and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. Namaste.

  8. emohr says:

    I just can't make any sense of this christian rejection of yoga. Or hinduism, for that matter. The whole idea of avoiding anything that is rooted in an alternate spiritual tradition is fear based – as though diversity is a threat. (?!) I have (with a great many human frailties – ahem) practiced what is termed 'unceasing' contemplative prayer in the christian tradition for a little over 20 years now, and I have yet to encounter any justification for rejecting other traditions. I'm reminded of the notion that the opposite of love is not hate, but fear. In my experience, fear and love move in opposite directions, the one closing inward and the other extending outward indefinitely – into the vastness of liberation. Most christians will accept that christ is love in it's very essence. How can this be compatible with a rejection of the sincere beliefs and devout practices of others? My whole being moves contrary to such unfounded division.

    In attempting to understand (I've been working with this one since childhood)… Some christians will avoid other traditions based on passages such as "no one comes to the father except through me". Thing is, if one is willing to accept that christ is truly infinite, then why on earth should his work or his manifestations be limited by our notions of him? He does say that he has "other sheep that are not of this fold". Just saying.

    Pantheism as 'self-worship disguised as a high level of spirituality' … this takes its place among the most offensive statements I've read. Unless she can accept 'self-worship' as a sort of selflessness (a state of 'no self' as described, for example, by Bernadette Peters in The Path to No Self) where the self is fully alive and present only through being absorbed in the essence of God. I doubt it.

    I fully agree with Ralph that yogic practice is used in numerous traditions. I personally engage in it as a physical form of christian contemplation. Why on earth not?

    Thanks so much for your attitude of respectful consideration.

  9. [...] We know more about reality TV than we do about what truly makes us happy. We are the only animal on the planet that can literally destroy its own planet. We are also the only animal in the animal kingdom that kill each other over who’s God is the right God. [...]

  10. Atoning Yoga says:

    I am a Christian and I love yoga as well! :) I started doing yoga several years ago and found that in the silence and quiet of the class, I was reaching out to God and praying about situations in my life. Because I grew my relationship with Christ in my yoga practice, I felt more connected, grounded, joyful, peaceful, supported, loved, and focused each time I practiced. Yoga helped me to be still and quiet and prayer started the two-way conversation between me & God.

    So, I started a Christian yoga company called Atoning Yoga to teach Christians how to meditate on God's Word (the Bible) and purposefully apply the Scripture to their lives through a repetitive prayer. When you take time out of your day to be intentional about spending time with Christ and teach yourself physical discipline and mental focus that you can apply to your spiritual journey, your relationship with God will grow immensely.

    Many people question whether Christianity and yoga can be practiced together, and I would encourage you to find out for yourself! Give AtoningYoga.com/shop a try to find out how you can grow your relationship with Christ through yoga!

  11. yoga bear says:

    i like the movement, bad back. I have found it to be wonderful. I do not really pay much attention to a lot of the other stuff, am i missing something?

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