My Favorite Quotes

My Favorite Quotes

"Instead of criticizing people who are fall short of our expectations, however, we ought to put on our boots, overalls, all helmets, and get busy on the work site." Joel R. Beeke

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Yoga poses dangers to genuine Christian faith: Theologian

A leading Baptist theologian says the ancient practice of yoga, bound to Hinduism, is wrong for Christians, that poses like saluting the sun (a Sarah Palin favorite pose, FYI) instead of focusing on the Son, is breathing in trouble.

Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, blogs today about a new book by Stefanie Syman, The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America, calling it "a masterpiece of cultural history" even as he decries her findings.

Syman, a 15-year-yoga devotee, proclaims yoga is now so mainstream, so sanitized of spiritual connotations that it can be touted on the White House Lawn during the annual easter egg roll. Mohler writes,
... the growing acceptance of yoga points to the retreat of biblical Christianity in the culture. Yoga begins and ends with an understanding of the body that is, to say the very least, at odds with the Christian understanding. 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.
...Nevertheless, a significant number of American Christians either experiment with yoga or become adherents of some yoga discipline. Most seem unaware that yoga cannot be neatly separated into physical and spiritual dimensions. The physical is the spiritual in yoga, and the exercises and disciplines of yoga are meant to connect with the divine.
Mohler reminds believers,
...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.
But are Mohler's warnings too late to slow the widespread Christian yoga craze?
In 2005 a writer for Christianity Today talked about the advantages of yoga without any fear that it would lead a strong evangelical astray. Agnieszka Tennant wrote:
The Hindu gods don't make it onto my mat. Yoga purists don't lead classes at mainstream American gyms. Could it be that some of them learned yoga from the purists? Yes. But no one's making me repeat any mantras. The closest any of my gym's several yoga teachers get to religious utterances is by bowing and saying "Namaste" at the end each class, which can be translated as "The soul in me honors the soul in you" or "The image of God in me honors the image of God in you." I like it! It just reminds me that, as C. S. Lewis put it, there are no mere mortals.
There are multiple web sites citing a Christian twist on yoga.
Outstretched, Inc., an outreach ministry of Jubilee Shores United Methodist Church in Fairhope, Alabama, suggest on line that...
We become more spiritually healthy through the yoga practice by calming our minds and quieting ourselves to the point that we can tune out the world's frequency and tune into God's frequency.
And says yoga offers people of all faiths
an embodied spiritual practice that inclines toward deeper prayer. It is embedded in our spiritual DNA to go to God the way God came to us -- in and through the body.
Mohler, however, sees the proliferation of yoga posing as ...
... a symptom of our postmodern spiritual confusion, and, to our shame, this confusion reaches into the church. Stefanie Syman is telling us something important when she writes that yoga "has augured a truly post-Christian, spiritually polyglot country."
Are you feeling spiritually fractured or enlightened in yoga class? Does it interfere with, or override or reinforce, your religious beliefs?



Bill Cockrell said...

Yeah I am not into Yoga; but heres another question, I was taught in my younger days that its not good to associate with Karate,Judo and all those type things as they have religions in them also. What is your thought on that??

caremikenluisa said...

Yoga, I don't, too. In fact, I read a book many years ago about its positions being form of worship to their gods, even to a snake god.

Mike and Luisa

Carl said...

I know someone who does yoga. Wasn't happy when she announced it, but she came from a mystical background in her faith. I think this is what lead her in. A wrong view of mediation.

Charles Shank said...

My thoughts on 'yoga', and other assorted mystic-related practices like it, are that it is fine to practice it, and them, as long as your attitude toward it is directed in the right direction. If you participate in these sorts of activities as you are worshiping the sun, or in other eastern mysticism, then yes, it would be wrong to be involved, but if you are doing so in order to maintain discipline of your body or to quiet your 'soul' and meditate upon the goodness of our Creator, whose Son we do worship, then I say 'go for it, more power to you!'

P.D. Nelson said...

Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. (Rom. 14:23) If yoga takes you into strange worship not approved by God no matter what it may do for your physical well being then it is sin and needs to be confessed as such and flee from it.

Mary said...

My thoughts (based on the Word of God) on the subject of yoga: Worshipping anyone or anything other than our Father in heaven is sin: Isaiah 46:9b "...For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me."
We should not clear our minds but A) prepare them: 1 Peter 1:13 "Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." B) guard them: Philippians 4:7b "...guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." C) and focus on good and godly things: Philippians 4:8 "...whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."
However, we should be exercising, for the health of our physical bodies, to keep us fit as servants of the Lord. Exercise may include practices commonly associated with yoga, such as breathing, stretching, and poses that build strength and balance. But, to call it "yoga" or in any way incorporate ungodly thoughts (clearing your mind for 'meditation') or utterances (speaking/making noises-i.e. "om" and "Namaste") or physical actions (poses that are clearly for no other purpose than for worship)is clearly sin.