What exactly are the origins and the purpose (besides the physical benefit) of yoga? I have heard that yoga can open Christians up to spiritual dangers. Why and how so?
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Yoga practiced as originally taught, seeks "outside" spiritual contact with the "universe" which of course is replacing seeking God to bring healing and health which is what yoga is meant to give which was something created by Indus of the Indus Valley. The yogis encourage union with the finite jiva (transitory self) and with the infinite Brahman (eternal self). Brahman is a term used by the Hindus to mean “God.” So, what are we supposed to unite with? Yogis usually think of God as an impersonal, spiritual substance, coexisting with all of reality. This doctrine is called pantheism which is the view that everything is God. In the Bible, God reveals Himself as the personal Creator of the universe. By researching the history of yoga, we learn that it is not safe spiritually. Yoga teaches us to focus on ourselves instead of on the one true God. It encourages us to seek the answers to life's difficult questions within our own conscience instead of in the Bible. It also leaves one open to deception from Satan, who searches for victims that he can turn away from God (1 Peter 5:8). Isaiah 8:19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?
Re: the question of Christians practicing Yoga (for exercise only, the spiritual component is very plainly sin) I really think this is like the meat issue spoken of in 1 Corinthians, where it is a matter of the conscience. Even before becoming Christian, I hated the spiritual component of Yoga (I found it very boring and a waste of time) and simply sought yoga out because it is extremely difficult to find affordable and consistent adult gymnastics classes, and I wanted flexibility and a certain kind of strength that does not come from training with weights. Based on what Paul says about our freedom in Christ, it seems right and fitting to treat the exercise portion of yoga as they were treating meat in 1 Cor. 10:23: "23“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. 25Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” 27If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? 30If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? 31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved." Is your yoga teacher clearly promoting the spirituality associated with the practice? If so, then refrain from participating for the sake of the teacher's conscience. We are aiming to direct people to Christ and obey Him ourselves. We can't do this while seeming like we are participating in and agreeing with a sinful practice in our bodies (whatever we may be praying on the inside). I think the points to keep in mind and practice when discussing and thinking about how to handle these greyer issues are obedience, love and glory to God, and love for our neighbour... "Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall." (1 Cor. 8:13)
Short answer is 'NO'. There is no such thing as 'christian' yoga. The word yoga is a sanskrit word meaning 'union'. It is a practice used by hindus to bring them into a union with hindu gods. How can a christian have union with other gods? It is forbidden as in the first commandment. Get to a gym and work out there with stretching exercises if you must, but steer clear if yoga and its ilk.
Learn the origin of yoga...hold it up to the word....ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the TRUTH since He (Holy Spirit) is the revealer of TRUTH. The word promises us that He (Holy Spirit) will lead & guide us in all TRUTH. Then be willing to accept the TRUTH Holy Spirit reveals. Yoga is not just a physical act but a spiritual one also....so one must be careful not to open themselves up to spiritual warfare in ignorance. God said "My people perish for lack of knowledge." & He also said "In all your getting get understanding."
Yoga is not okay as it is a form of Hindu worship. It really doesn't matter how "harmless" or "beneficial" Yoga is to our own understanding when the Word of God warns about such issue. Deut 12:29-31 "When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods? —that I also may do the same. ' You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.
1 Cor 6: 19-20 We are to care for the gift of our bodies, and the PHYSICAL practice of yoga is an excellent way to do it. There are DVD's and books for specifically Christian yoga, but yoga can be "just exercise", too. I am a committed Christian who has taught yoga for 11 years. Everything we say and do during my classes is spiritually sound. I work in a health club and teach "fitness" yoga; we focus on the benefits of the physical practice: strength, flexibility and improved breath control. It is entirely possible to have a wonderful practice, improving your health and mental clarity, without ever alluding to matters of alternate spirituality. Most health club classes are like this - more so than at dedicated yoga studios - but you may have to look around a bit to find a good, fitness-based class.
I think it's completely inappropriate to "appropriate" the practice of yoga as "just exercise". There are plenty of stretching regimens out there, including the standard P.E. ones and even those favoured by ballet dancers! But each and every one of the Yoga poses is a named/defined posture to honour or invoke a particular Hindu deity! So the vocabulary of Yoga in this way is already compromised. It would be like unwittingly practicing American Sign Language just to limber up your arthritic hands. You might be communicating something unintentional to your audience, at best! And Yoga's "audience" is the spiritual dimension, no question. The Yoga teachers I've talked to (those that care to pursue some kind of certification) all will admit that it's ultimately "a spiritual path". My problem is that the Westernization of Yoga postures/breathing/mindset and the marketing of it as a health benefit is irresponsible and does a disservice to the Hindu community. Can you imagine some group or teacher being disrespectful enough to promote First Nations dance as a cardio class? "Just exercise"? I rest my case.
Ask any Yogi, and they will tell you that you cannot separate the spiritual from the physical aspects of Yoga. If you profess to be a Christian and yet practice yoga, you are worshiping another god. Woe to those who proclaim Christ, but engage in this Hindu worship.
I have done yoga, and I plan to do it again. What I do is forego the talk about the religion, and I worship the Lord instead. In my mind I always go to Him even on a walk, so you can receive the benefits of yoga without selling your soul.!
Reincarnation and karma (Hindu, Buddhist) trials and tribulations as they reach for their Gods. A Christian's trial is one life to get it right. John 3:16 says all one need is to believe. Yet my attention is called to the entire Old Testament where the Israelite Kings and Kingdoms were punished time and time again for bowing to pagan Gods. "Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:14-15)
All of us as individual Christians make up the whole body of Christ. If one part of the body is hurting, then the whole body hurts. If the church opens up it's doors to the practice of yoga, even if it's just the physical part, it can open up the doors for spiritual attack on new believers, those who haven't yet been discipled in God's word. Because of a new believer's lack of understanding, they could very well be deceived and led away from the Lord. Why would we want to invite even the appearance of evil into the church? We must look at it's roots. If the tree is bad, then the fruit will be bad. Why eat the fruit off of a bad tree? The teachings of Yoga is so incredibly diametrically in opposition of the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, why have anything to do with it at all? The deception is that it helps us to focus on God. It's God's word that keeps our focus on Him. 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. I think that by introducing Yoga into the body of Christ, we are inviting deception to come in. Gal 5:9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump.The apostle Paul said it twice, so it must be of extreme importance. Gal 1:8&9 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. Why would we want to have anything to do with any pagan practices and philosophies?
Yoga is called meditation. It calls us to be lazy with idle mind. Then they ask you utter the meaningless slogans to invite satan or demons into your mind. The idle mind is the workshop of the devil. When the mind is empty, demons rush to occupy it (Mt 12:43-45). It is a kind of mind-control of the satan or demons. Yoga means – Yoke. It yields her or him to the bondage of satan or demon. Most of the people don’t know is that you are actually being yoked to Hindu false god which are satanic or demonic! Yoga was created by Hindus that worship literally thousands of false gods otherwise known as demons. The poses are actually worship poses to different Hindu false gods! Most are very naive about what they are doing and of course most aren’t being told about this. I’m sure most people that consider themselves Christians would never want to yoke themselves to Hindu demons but that’s exactly what they are doing if they do Yoga. It was created to do this! There is of course only ONE God in three persons. The God that brought Moses out of slavery/bondage of Egypt – the God that created the whole world and the universe! If anybody talks about other “gods” then they are in fact talking about false gods - fallen angels or demons. Demons are absolutely real and they do have power but anybody that has given their life to Jesus Christ cannot be harmed by these demons. If you are doing Yoga right now then you owe it to yourself. Kundalini yoga experts claim that they can walk on water just like Jesus walked on sea. But kundalini a yoga is satanic or demonic. Satan doesn’t show up with a black cape and a pitchfork, he comes at you with things that might seem completely innocent at first. I’m sure some of you are saying to yourself that Yoga is just good exercise but if you are saying that to yourself, you’d be dead wrong. It is too dangerous. You are playing with your soul. Do you want to risk your eternal soul without learning more? Read the Bible and fill your heart with the Scripture (Psa 119:11). As much as you sleep during the night, you must work during the day. Get actively involved in gardening, jogging, games, etc.
I struggle with stress. I get overwhelmed the business of the day and I let that stress build in my body. I give the stress to The Lord and pray about it, but it creates aches and pains in my body (back pain, neck tightened). Yoga helps me to stretch out those parts of my body as normal work and exercise can not. It also allows me to be grateful for the body God gave me, he made my body to move, and be strong! Parts of certain yoga classes and some entire classes are over spiritualized. I turn what the instructor says into prayer to The Lord. I have yet to find a class that my prayers are difficult to relate to and that I don't mean. Yoga helps me to focus on god and relieve stress.
It is easy to find comfort in substance or religious prescriptions that do not add true value to our spiritual lives. You cannot divorce yoga from what it stands for. It is like saying I just hang about a brothel but I never engage in sexual sin. There must be caution for every believer to keep away from any appearance of evil so that they hold their faith without contamination of cultic tendencies. Yoga is out of the question in my view. Shalom.
My respond to that is "CHECK YOUR MOTIVE." If joining a yoga bothers you especially your spiritual aspect, why insist? If you are a Christian, why don't you consult your Bible and let the Holy Spirit speak? God requires our love and complete obedience without reservation.
I believe the claims of spiritual warfare are valid, because yoga can teach you to rely on yourself to fulfill the deep yearnings we all have for safety and security amidst the activities of the day. The bliss of forgetfulness that yoga teaches can empty the mind of stress, but the next step is entirely one's own: what do you put back in once the mind is empty and free? I have found yoga as a great challenge for prayer practices such as breath prayers of the Lord's prayer, or praying silently for protection against the causes of my stress, asking the Lord to reveal my weaknesses, so that He may be strong in them when I leave the studio. I have been practicing yoga for about three years now, and I would love to teach in the future. I see it as a place where people go to receive rest. We are disciples who follow Jesus to become more like Him, and since Jesus has authority over all powers in heaven and on earth, there is no place that He cannot go when you carry Him in your heart. Keep your heart fixed on the hope of salvation, pray over your fellow yoga members, and see the yoga studio as the modern day desert wilderness, a place God can fill with love and light if you let Him.
Original Post October 2013:I've been doing yoga exercises for quite a few years now. After many sessions of physical therapy, I still was outa work because of a back injury. After doing yoga, exercise only, for a few months, I was able to go back to work. Then I began hearing all this hub bub about yoga. I fasted and prayed about it TWICE and got the same answer, but with more clarification the 2nd time. Back in the late '60's and early '70's, when all the rock Christian music came in, there was a HUGE hub bub about bringing "the devil's music" into the church. Which is when I, my brother and a LOT of other people wouldn't even darken the doors of a traditional church got saved. Now every one is up in arms about Christians doing yoga and martial arts WITHOUT the meditation part. The devil is having a hey-day keeping the church divided over these issues. Music isn't good or bad, it's the words that make it so. The devil would love to see the church weak, out of shape and divided. I have two friends that are very healthy and alive today because of Chinese herbs recommended by a Chinese Dr. I've heard preachers say that Chinese herbs are of the devil. Should we not eat at Chinese restaurants because they offer food to Buddha? Christians, send their kids to public school every day, unless they have enough money for private school, where they learn about the religion of evolution, homosexuality as an alternative life style, how to use condoms and God forbid they mention the name of Jesus. So if u really want to not practice the ways of the heathen, you won't offer your kids to the heathen gods of public school either. And go back to only the pipe organ for worship music. Edit 07.25.14: after much "convincing" from some people in my Bible study about yoga, my Bible study leader sent me a link http://m.praisemoves.com/ This woman has what she calls a "Christian alternative to yoga". I ordered her dvd and basically every single pose is a yoga pose that she renamed with some other name and she quotes Scripture during the poses. I guess this renaming process redeems the poses.
Whether to or not to practice yoga is a matter of self conviction and it has nothing to do with any religious context. It involves stretching the body and deep breathing which cleanes the blood and the body. Deep breathing pacifies the heart and mind and cures many heart problems. I dont see any ample reasons to mix it with the Bible. To explain this, I would have to explain the origin of christmas. In fact, it was a pagan festival. But if a christian which celebrates christmas in remembrance of Christ, does it mean he is celebrating a pagan God? In the same way does yoga apply. Yoga was founded by great ascetics of India pretty long before the days of the gospel. They researched the stretching techniques of animals. They practiced it for themselves and finally found it was working. This is what happened in India. These ascetics diligently worked in those areas and by living a pure life and a healthy life concluded that they could have salvation for thier souls. That was not their fault, since they were not exposed to the scriptures of the jews. Yoga and meditation works for me. It works for everyone which practices it. Hence it has no connection with the so called "idolatry" or even with the Hindu forms of worship. The Hindus never had such forms of worship. To make it clear "Yoga" is not a form of worship at all. People simply blame it because they were taught so. The rational pattern of western mind is refusing the the metaphysical pattern of eastern minds. That is what I understood from all the comments regarding yoga, acupuncture, reiki etc. First of all, I want to make clear what the term "Hindu" means. Hindu does not mean a person which worships an idol, although we call idol worshippers as hindus in India. The whole nation of India, during the ancient times, was named by the river Sindhu. The land of India was called the "Plain of Sindhu". Later, during the persian dominion, when they capture the north western parts of India (Esther 1:1, 8:7), they called it as "Hindu" since the letter "Si" does not appear in their vocabulary. Even the tamil Bible calls India as the "Hindu country" in Esther 1:1 & 8:7. Hence hindu is someone which lives in India. That's all. Archaeological facts and researches conclude that the Indian worshipped the nature as Gods and by giving sacrifices to them. They did never worship God through Yoga. Yoga is a form of exercise which was primarily practiced by the ascetics of India to live a healthy and a pure life which they thought which might lead to salvation, even though the word "Yoga" would mean union with God. It all depends upon the motive with which a person performs it. Motive is the crucial thing which God looks upon. I am certain that Christ is the only way for salvation and also know that yoga does nothing to my salvation. But I have freedom in Christ to choose the way to keep my body and mind healthy so that I could lead a more fruitful life in Christ. I am not bound to any gyms. No one can say thay "If you want to stay healthy, you have to go to a gym" because that is not the only way. There are many others. Selection between them lies with the one which chooses.
As Christians we must discern that black is black and white is white. There shouldn't be any gray areas in our walk with Christ. When we get too close to the line, then we are getting off the path. If something has a little leaven it destroys the whole loaf. My philosophy is that if there is a question about a certain practice, then I shouldn't have anything to do with it at all. Some things that look good or feel good, maybe are not good for us. It isn't that hard to give something up, especially if we are doing it for Christ. After all, isn't that the goal? To live for Him should be forefront in our minds and living.
Jesus is coming back for a church that is without spot or wrinkle..a powerful church! Eph 5:27 Yoga is a blemish on the body of Christ. It is a tool of the enemy to water down the gospel of Jesus Christ. There's already too much of the world's kind of thinking going on in the church. Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. All we need in the church today is the preaching of the gospel. Accepting yoga into the church is just another tactic to get more people i.e. anybody to come in to the church whether they are born again or not. Col 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.The church needs to get back to the simple gospel and seek to fully understand what Jesus fully accomplished for us with His death and resurrection! Once you realize that, you won't want to borrow anything from the world or Hinduism.
I have seen people delivered from demonic spirits that came from yoga- kundalini spirit I think it is called- and have delivered people from them. Some were yoga instructors others just people who practiced it regularly. They all manifested in the same way- body undulating like a snake up the spine. I had participated in yoga previous to becoming a Christian for stretching exercises but certainly wouldn't now. The people who were delivered don't anymore either. I'm not saying everyone who practices yoga has a demon, just that I have seen evidence that yoga has demonic associations and can open people up to such things. Caution advised.
It really matters what you in your heart of hearts think about the practice. Can you stretch and put your body into any position you like? Absolutely. The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. You can declare your victory over whatever principalities or powers might be trying to encroach on your freedom. They don't own stretching. Jesus does. Should you be participating in Hindu demon-worship services? No. If that's what it is to you. In whatever you do, glorify God. I think it's very important for a Christian to be very free in Christ, and each should be very honest with his own conscience and the Holy Spirit and obviously not harm his brother's conscience in any way, but Romans 14:16 says "do not let your good be spoken of as evil" and Galatians 5:1 says "stand firm in the freedom for which Christ has made you free." You can eat meat from the shambles (1 Corinthians 10:25) because it's just meat (though sacrificed to idols), but you may not become a partaker of the cup of demons (1 Corinthians 10:21.) The very days of our week are named after demon gods. We are commanded to work to support ourselves, but to do so in a covetous manner is the sin of idolatry. My point is, if done in a clean conscience in the Holy Spirit, many things need not be unclean to us, but if done in a guilty conscience, our inner life is defiled. Notice that I don't make the conscience the absolute standard. It is necessary, but not sufficient. One's conscience must be submitted to the truth. We stand as lights in the world before the powers of darkness and our freedom from needless restriction (Colossians 2:20-23) is very important in that respect and for our joy. Don't let anyone take that away from you, but do refrain from exercising your freedom for the genuine sake of others when necessary.
I did yoga and don't know anything about the spiritual aspect of it or that there was one. I knew they said namaste. I didn't know what it meant right away. But I knew that was something I would not be saying. And when I found out I wouldn't say it. A lot of people don't know about the spiritual part of yoga. And have different thoughts thinking it is something like a culture says and not a spiritual thing. I will not say anything or do anything intentionally against God. So if its wrong to do yoga, don't do it. Pray about it. But God knows your heart. And if you stand up for your belief, then that is what's important.
I feel yoga is like tapping into the power of God without his permission, its like stealing from him without knowing him or thanking him. And even worse, during this process you expose your mind and can very easily fall prey to idolatry. The Almighty has already made it very clear about idol worship. Our Lord Jesus Christ has not taught us meditation, trance and other things because he knows this body and its needs are temporary and will one day decompose he was more concerned with the soul which can be immortal if we choose the path show by him. There are other alternatives to live a health life but that would involve hardwork and dedication which are difficult to follow in these times.
Yoga as we hear and witness is the physical training for the better functioning of our bodily tissues (both internal and external). These exercises have to be scientifically guided or with pure professionalism. Otherwise we might damage our tissues and may cause more harm than benefits. Breathing in and breathing out exercises are good since they give us more oxygen and more oxygen improves our health and overall bodily functioning. When in Seminary I had passed Yoga Exercises in A + grade and did benefit some physical fitness and health. But I received more benefits when I had to walk 6 miles distance and back again for 3 years during my high school. I had wonderful health and that is why even at the age of 54 I can walk miles after miles today without any fatigue. You can never experience the immortal pleasures with the mortal bodies and we can never equate the Spiritual supreme being with the perishable human body or its consciousness. We can train ourselves and our children by going to good physical training, gyms, but never do the divinization of physical training as to see God in it. If we have a clear conscience and regular physical exercises, outdoor games, swimming, cycling, jogging, etc we can keep our mind and body fit and healthy by Simplicius Pereira
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