Friday, June 08, 2007

Recently I had the privilege of speaking to a Ladies Bible Study about the occult, and someone asked me a question about Christians participating in Yoga. My first response to this had to do with freedom in Christ: I did not think that the Hindus had cornered the market on physical exercise. I felt we could physically work out any way we liked as long as the instructor was a Christian and it was meant to glorify God.

Lately, I've revised my opinion--mainly because there are some Christians who would stumble over this, and I do not wish to be the one to cause them to stumble. I also ran across the testimony of Laurette Willis who taught Yoga for many years, and I took her words to heart.

From experience I can say that yoga is a dangerous practice for the Christian and leads seekers away from God rather than to Him. You may say, “Well, I’m not doing any of the meditation stuff. I’m just following the exercises.” It is impossible, however, to separate the subtleties of yoga the technique from yoga the religion. I know because I taught and practiced hatha yoga for years. Hatha yoga is the most popular yoga style available on store-bought videos and in most gyms. For an eye-opening account of the background and meaning of “hatha yoga,” please see my notes at the bottom of this page.

Perhaps you have sensed uneasiness while doing yoga (what some call a “check in your spirit”), but you ignored that quiet nudge. I urge you to pay attention to it. Jesus Himself said, “…the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice” (John 10:4).

Your yoga teacher may bow to her class saying, “Namaste” (“I bow to the divine in you.”). Postures have names such as Savasana (the Corpse Pose) and Bhujangasana (the Cobra or Snake Pose). References are made to chakras or “power centers” in the body, such as the “third eye.” The relaxation and visualization session at the end of yoga classes is skillfully designed to “empty the mind” and can open one up to harmful spiritual influences.

As Christians, you are instructed to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2), not the emptying of your mind. Many believe that transformation process occurs as we meditate and feed on the Word of God – renewing our minds by filling them with God’s thoughts, not emptying them or filling them with the prideful thoughts of man.

It seems the enemy has a counterfeit for almost everything the Lord offers. While mind-numbing tranquility may feel good for a time, it’s a poor substitute for the “peace which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) and “the joy of the Lord (which) is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

Laurette Willis has now designed an amazing workout based on the letters of the Hebrew Alphabet, and I've got my order in for it. I thought you might be interested in learning more about Praise Moves: "a Christ-centered alternative to the practice of yoga."

1 Corinthians 6:20, “For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

I'm so looking forward to getting my copy. :)

* (accessed June 8, 2007).


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