But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” Mat 8:20
A few days ago, I looked up "Christian yoga" on YouTube.com and found a video called: Christoga - Christian Yoga. It is a short advertisement for a Christian yoga video. It is amazing the reactions it elicited.
Some claiming to represent yoga said:
- "Here's another example of how Christians take someone else's hard work and steal it and then slap their name on it."
- "Yoga is stretching. If you hallucinate while you're stretching, well, that's a different issue."
- "I find it sad that people are associating yoga with religion, yoga is just a vehicle for worship and wellbeing not a religion, if it was a religion you would have less people practicing it."
- "You see many religious people have been sucked in to this new false belief that it's ok for a Christian to practice yoga... the two don't and never will mix... one does not support the other...if religious people do actually support yoga then they themselves have been deceived... simple as that."
- "Great... let's take two of the world's richest spirititual traditions and combine them to make money from ignorant western retards!!! This is soooo sad. I'm a Hindu... stop abusing my traditions you western imperialists."
- "The creators of Yoga - Hindus - did not label it and gave it free to this world but now @#$%^&* Christians using words like Christian Yoga????"
- "Christians are like dogs. They need to pee on everything to mark their territory. Predatory culture!"
Some claiming to represent Christianity said:
- "First ask yourself what is yoga, what do the different poses represent... Yoga is in itself a belief system as yoga doesn't follow God's teachings [so] it should be pretty simple...Christians are told to not practice anything from different religions it's as simple as that."
- "Christians should not be involved in yoga. It is a form of spiritual meditation. Anything spiritual that is not of God is demonic. What a huge deception this is. It would be the same as getting involved in witchcraft and then calling it Christian witchcraft."
- "YOGA MEANS: DIVINE CONNECTION. CONNECTION WITH A GOD. THE ONLY WAY TO CONNECT WITH GOD IS TROUGH "JESUS CHRIST" IF THERE IS [AN]OTHER WAY, THEN MY FRIENDS HE DIED IN VAIN! WAKE UP YOGA, NEW AGE RELIGION IS THE SECRET DOCTRINE OF LUCIFER!"
- "Wow, I guess you can't be a born again spirit filled Christian...because if you were you would recognize straight away that some spiritual practices are forbidden and are also dangerous... maybe you should pick up a Bible and read it.... you may learn something..."
- "The two women look rather like some Oprah Winfrey educated new age temple prostitutes [rather] than Christian women."
- "What planet are you on? Because it's not Earth.... You obviously aren't a born again Christian.... that part is obviously clear... If you have any brains the answers you got would tell you stop."
What is yoga?
Like meditation, Yoga is a spiritual discipline. Yoga combines three practices: breathing exercises, meditation/contemplation, and physical postures. Yoga originally began with more emphasis on meditation and less emphasis on postures. The practice of yoga dates as far back as 5000 BC. It predates Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, but it has been adopted by all of these religions. Like other spiritual disciplines (i.e. prayer, fasting, etc.), it can be used in any religious context, and does not belong to any one religion. Hatha yoga, which are the postures, can be removed from a religious context altogether and be used solely as a form of exercise. In fact, that often happens in cases where organizations are trying to appeal to a large, general demographic, like gyms and fitness clubs.
What is Christian yoga?
Christian yoga takes the breathing exercises, meditation and physical postures, and adds in Jesus Christ. The Bible is read throughout, personal witness is given and Christian or instrumental music is played. Christian yoga begins in prayer, and its aim is the worship of and contemplation of the Triune God. There is nothing about it that diverts in any direction away from Christian doctrine or devotion. It is instead a unique way to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" Mark 12:30.
Why do people object to Christian yoga?
From the yoga camp:
Although yoga predates the religions which have adopted it by at least 1500 years, nevertheless practitioners of those religions will sometimes object to it being adopted by Christianity. This is understandable, since it has been part of their religious tradition for as much as 3,000 years! In some cases, this can lead to feelings of their faith being trampled upon by ours, whether or not they are aware that yoga is something that predates them. But this is not a universal reaction. In most cases, people are more open-hearted about it, and indeed, yoga has often been called, "India's gift to the world." BKS Iyengar, the founder of the Iyengar yoga school, stated in his book, Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health, "Yoga is for everyone."
From the Christian camp:
In a lot of cases, fear and ignorance lead people to reject yoga. Because yoga is practiced by other religions as a spiritual discipline, it can sometimes be misunderstood to be a religion in itself. Yoga is as neutral as meditation, prayer or fasting - three other disciplines practiced across many religions - and can be applied as easily in a Christian context. But, thankfully, as the years pass and it becomes more clear that Christians who practice yoga are not harmed by it, this fear is dissipating. It also helps that doctors and other authorities are now recommending yoga for its health benefits to their patients. This has added substantially to its acceptance in the West.
It is true that in rare cases, when you enter a non-Christian yoga class, you may encounter philosophies that disagree with Christianity. This is because of the history and traditions being passed down by that particular teacher or studio. It may surprise you to know that the teachings can vary substantially from studio to studio, or sometimes from teacher to teacher within the same studio! But with Christian yoga, there is no room for anti-Christian thought. If you enter a Holy Yoga class, you enter a class led by Jesus and for Jesus. Brooke Boon, founder of Holy Yoga, summarizes it well:
The bottom line is that we can debate all day long about yoga's roots, its history, and all the other ways that the world uses it. But the conversation would be irrelevant because in Holy Yoga, our entire intent and focus are completely on Jesus Christ. There is simply no room in our practice for anything else. (Holy Yoga: Exercise for the Christian Body and Soul)
When I discovered there was such a thing as Christian yoga, I was elated, since I had been using my yoga as a prayer to our Lord for years prior. Yoga has always been a way for me to contemplate my God and abide in his Spirit. With yoga, Jesus has guided me towards physical health, which had previously eluded me. My body is the temple of his Spirit, and my soul longs to be still and know him. In both ways, Jesus uses my spiritual discipline of yoga to heal, strengthen and mature me. It has been one of the most significant blessings in my life.
I believe Christ himself not only approves of Christian yoga, but called me and those in my ministry to teach it. In each and every Christian yoga class I have taken or taught, his promise has been demonstrated: "For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them” Matthew 18:20.