Thursday, December 13, 2007

Yoga and Christianity

Time and time again I have heard that yoga is a wonderful exercise for women who are pregnant. I have always wanted to do some research on it. I have never attended a yoga class so I cannot say how much or how little they all get into any spirituality, but I have definitely heard the warnings about dappling in meditation when you are not meditating on the Lord or His Word. I know most people would never even consider this as a threat to their faith, but since I found this article, I thought I would share it. It's worth considering if you are a Christian and are concerned with how you conduct yourself.

Here are few blurbs from an article I found:

“These are postures that are offered to the 330 million Hindu gods. Yoga postures really are; they are offerings to the gods. If you do these postures and you do this breathing technique and this meditation, then you will be accepted by a god, little “G.” That’s the real danger,” she said.

“Romans 12:1-2 says we are to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God,” added Laurette. “Here they are doing something very similar with these postures to their 330 million gods, and it is scary. So we abstain from things offered to idols—Acts 15:29.”

In yoga they do what they call pranayama breathing. Prana is the Hindu word for life force, the same concept as the word chi in some martial arts. Yoga breathing attempts to manipulate that life energy, which Laurette believes is perilous. “That is a dangerous thing,” she said, “because I think that we are coming out from under the blood of Jesus when we do stuff like that, and we are no match for the enemy in those areas. I think of what Paul said in Ephesians 2:2, that Satan is the prince of the power of the air. We are not talking about oxygen.”

A third area of concern in yoga is the concept of emptying the mind, which is contradictory to what Christianity teaches. As Laurette explained, “We are transformed by the renewing of our minds, not the emptying.”

Along with emptying the mind, yoga guides people into astral travel, which is where people actually leave their bodies, a practice that Laurette was familiar with and has since questioned. “I wonder with those experiences when I left my body what got in there when I was gone?” Laurette posed. “As a Christian with the Holy Spirit in there, we are not going to be possessed, I don’t think. But one could easily be oppressed.”

Clearly, with this understanding of yoga, Christians should think twice before heading to the local gym for a yoga class. But if you are a Christian who thinks it’s all right to attend yoga classes because you think you are strong enough not to fall prey to the spiritual deception that’s being taught and you enjoy the physical benefits, Laurette pleads in all seriousness that you to please consider a younger believer or weaker Christian who is watching your lifestyle. If you go to a yoga class, chances are they might be inspired to go also, and they could fall completely off track in their walk with God.
This gives me something to think about. Since I personally have never been taught how to properly 'meditate' the way the Hindu's do, I am naive to what their practices are. for me personally, I have decided that I can use some of these stretches to exercise without feeling like I am contradicting my faith. Instead of emptying my mind, I will choose to fill it with the Truth. My goal is that whatever I do, I do it for the glory of God. I Cor. 10:30-32


Anonymous said...

Very interesting!! Or should I say scary. I enjoy reading all your research.

:)The First Lady

Kat said...

As a yoga teacher and a strong Catholic, I will have to say that I very much disagree with the views of the above writers. From their quotes they reveal that they know very little about yoga. Yoga is very misunderstood in the West. I don't really have time for a detailed response (I can barely keep up my blog!) but let me say this. Many yogis are Hindus but a Hindu is not a yogi. Hinduism as a religion and yoga are separate entities. If Catholics all over the world were to adopt the practice of yoga, one would come to assume that yoga was a part of Catholicism. That very thing has happened to Hinduism.
Simply put, yoga is a method of connecting mind and body, it is a method to align the body and clear the mind so that you can focus on The Lord. Has anyone sat in church and had their mind wander, finding all of a sudden that you are thinking about Brunch after church, etc.? Well the purpose of yoga is to discipline your mind and body so that this doesn't happen. Yogi's are Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, you name it! The techniques used in yoga, such as mantra, have been used by Christians for centuries. Ever heard of "Maranatha" located in the bible and translated frequently as "Our Lord Has Come" it is a common Christian mantra. The idea is to empty the mind of thoughts that keep you from the Lord. Once your mind is completely empty, it is at the same time completely full of the Lord.

Paul & Angela Jenkins said...

Obviously I know nothing about the subject b/c I was clueless as to all that I've just read. What I do know is that doing yoga has helped me de-stress and focus more on God. While I'm in the yoga class I've spent that time praying to God. It's been great for me b/c no kids interrupt my conversation with the Lord and at the end I've always felt relaxed. I've never known or heard about yoga and reference to other religions. I'll have to pray about what this information means to me.

The Miller Menagerie said...

Hi Amy,

I love this post because as a young child, an elder church member "groomed" my brother and me to be little Transcendental Meditation practitioners. I did it for about 2 weeks and felt like it was conflicting my faith. Yoga was incorporated in the practices too, as well as a Hindu vegetarian diet.

I left the Episcopal church for a Traditional Anglo-Catholic worship experience (United Episcopal back home in Florida, Anglican Catholic when we lived in Virginia, and Anglican Province of Christ the King up here in the Pacific Northwest- some form of a 1928 Book of Common Prayer, all-male clergy supporting Anglican Church). When I did this, I left behind alot of this crazy Eastern religion dabbling that the Episcopal Church dearly loves.

But... I do practice the positions of yoga in my current pregnancy, and did during Prudence and Newton's pregnancy because all three of these guys have been posterior (Newt eventually turned right after he crowned). I do meditate during my yoga, but not in the way I was taught while practicing TM. I think deeply on my upcoming day; inwardly digest any scripture readings I've recently read, and spend the exercise session stretching with Prudence who does the DVD with me.

I feel that parenthood is my ultimate form of stewardship, and so I'm able to take the time that Prue and I do "yogi" as she calls it, to continue bonding with her as a preschooler, to bond with the baby who thinks it is hilarious to kick me in the navel when I stretch too far, and to bond with Newt who is convinced that Prue and I are sending him an invitation to play Twister (sans the mat & spinner).

It's great exercise, but I too would be leery of incorporating any mantras or repetitive gibberish words (unless it was the Lord's Prayer).

Something I have sung often while pregnant with Rudy is part of St. Patrick's Breastplate:

"I bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three."

You can hear it to music at Oremus (1940 Hymnal version).

Here you may read the story (scroll way down to the verse portion) behind St. Patrick's Breastplate. He supposedly recited it daily while he evangelised in the British Isles (converting folks from Paganism).

It doesn't hurt that in our hymnal, the second tune to the song is named Deirdre, which happens to be my first name. :)


Anonymous said...

If Yoga makes a person Hindu, then Pope John Paul II was a Hindu as he used Namaste (Yoga posture) many times to greet people.