Yoga is a meditative practice mainly within Hinduism and Buddhism, and originates in India. According to Dictionary.com and the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word "yoga" literally means "union, yoking" (with the Supreme Spirit), from PIE base *yeug- "to join" (see jugular). These religions have various god's (e.g. Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva, Manu, Krishna, Ganesha, Parvati, Lakshi, etc.) they worship and try to "join" with, which directly opposes Christianity. Yoga is inseparable from Eastern religion, usually Hinduism. In Christianity, you do not join God or gods through your body - through breathing, chanting, stretching, etc. The "health benefits" are irrelevant and do not justify practicing yoga. Loriliai Biernacki, a professor of Indian religions at the University of Colorado, points out that there are a spectrum of Hindu concepts permeating American culture, including meditation, belief in karma and reincarnation, and even cremation. "All these ideas are Hindu in origin, and they are spreading," she said. "But they are doing it in a way that leaves behind the proper name, the box that classifies them as 'Hinduism.'" Attempts have unsuccessfully been made to try to bring unity to yoga and Christianity but they naturally fail since yoga is so deeply rooted in Eastern religion. In this attempt it is often reduced to a stretching, breathing and relaxation session. Apparently many Christians insist that their practice of yoga involves absolutely no meditation, no spiritual direction, no inward concentration, and no thought element. Well, if so, you are simply not practicing yoga, and to define it as such is misleading. In other cases, such as the magazine "Christian Yoga," they try to Christianize yoga, yet they push Eastern teachers like Maharishi Mehesh Yogi and New Age authors like Oprah's favorite Eckhart Tolle, and practices such as Transcendental Meditation (TM) . R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, points out in his article, The Subtle Body — Should Christians Practice Yoga?, that "Christians are not called to empty the mind or to see the human body as a means of connecting to and coming to know the divine. Believers are called to meditate upon the Word of God — an external Word that comes to us by divine revelation — not to meditate by means of incomprehensible syllables." He continues, "The bare fact is that yoga is a spiritual discipline by which the adherent is trained to use the body as a vehicle for achieving consciousness of the divine. Christians are called to look to Christ for all that we need and to obey Christ through obeying his Word. We are not called to escape the consciousness of this world by achieving an elevated state of consciousness, but to follow Christ in the way of faithfulness."In the Bible, we are told to meditate, but on the Word of God, day and night. It is Scripturally-saturated thought, never emptying the mind as in yoga and Eastern meditation.
In Hosea 4:6, God states "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." I have heard and read countless testimonies of people who have dabbled in practices outside of Chistianity and it has opened them up to demonic activity. Yoga would definitely be one of these. For example, demons can also possess inanimate objects, and I have heard and read numerous stories detailing this. Many people have bought statues and pagan objects, only to find out that they have brought calamity to their homes and families. However, when they find out this is caused by these objects and they are destroyed, the calamity stops, although there are often consequences for their actions which cannot be reversed.
I plead with you not to open your self up to these dangers. If you want the "benefits" of yoga, then stretch yourself like a pretzel, exercise, or meditate on God's Word. Spend time in prayer, even light some candles and make it smell nice with some incense or potpourri. That's even Biblical. But do not practice yoga or even call it that, and it's very clear where it crosses that line.FOOTNOTES:
1. yoga. Dictionary.com. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/yoga (accessed: March 02, 2011).
3. Mohler, Albert. http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/10/07/yahoo-yoga-and-yours-truly/
7. Mohler, Albert. http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/09/20/the-subtle-body-should-christians-practice-yoga/ (accessed: March 02, 2011).
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