Christian Yoga-Oxymoron

Christian Yoga-Oxymoron
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"For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." 1 Tim 4:8
 
Why is there such a thing as "Christian" Yoga? It certainly has no scriptural or biblical basis to support it. I have repeated many times in my book, my writings and in radio interviews that Yoga is an eastern spiritual practice and has no place in the church. Do you think that Hindus who practice yoga are doing it to attain rock hard abs? The answer is clearly no. The purpose is spiritual. It is not just the meditations; but many of the postures used are a form of sun worship. Does that sound Christian to you?
 
In an article entitled "Is Yoga Debased by Secular Practice?," it featured comments from Hindus who were upset that Americans are co-opting the sacred practice of Yoga by debasing and commercializing it. Throughout the article Hindus stated that Yoga is a Hindu religious practice and people should stop pretending that it isn't just that. 
 
Swami Param of the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Classical Yoga Hindu Academy and Dharma Yoga Ashram in Manahawkin, N.J. describes Yoga this way, "The word Yoga is most often defined as a yoking, or union. Its practice strives to unite the individual soul with the 'greater soul' of the universe..."
 
That philosophy is antithetical to Christian thought. Robert Dabney, Christian theologian (1820-1898) has rightly pointed out that "the Christian believer, after he or she has been indwelt by the Holy Spirit, is still a separate person, a responsible free agent, and a man, not a God. The idea of a personal or substantial union would imply the deification of man, which is profane and unmeaning."
 
The response from Christians who practice Yoga state they do not use the meditations normally associated with Yoga. However, the meditations are not the only problem as Swami Param states, "It is a whole series of ritual appreciations to the sun, being thankful for that source of energy. To think of it as a mere physical movement is tantamount to saying that baptism is just an underwater exercise." Can't Christians find another form of exercise than one that is clearly connected to an eastern religion?
 
When you ask people to cite their reasons for choosing an exercise routine, the response usually has something to do with staying fit, losing weight or increasing energy. However, when you ask the reasons for choosing Yoga, the response is almost always related to stress relief.  If Christians are not participating in the meditative portion of Yoga then what is the benefit? Yoga's main selling point is stress relief. Supporters of Yoga state that the stress relief comes from the practice of the meditation. If stress relief is the main benefit of Yoga, without the meditation it isn't any more of a stress reliever than any other form of exercise. Therefore, why not choose another fitness routine rather than one borrowed from Hinduism?
 
One bizarre answer is one I received from a pastor who features Christian Yoga at his church. He stated victoriously, "We have stolen something from the pagans and made it "Christian."  I wonder if "Christian" séances will be the next thing featured at his church. The lack of discernment is breath taking.
Recently, a news station in Minneapolis featured a story on the topic of "Christian" Yoga and interviewed a Christian woman who defended the practice. She said that the practice made her "feel closer to God." If she wished to get closer to God, why would she believe that a Hindu ritual would accomplish this? Why would any Christian?
 
I believe that many Christians who practice Yoga demonstrate a genuine feeling of distance from the Lord, but due to a lack of strong biblical knowledge (which would give them what they really need) they resort to a false practice. It also demonstrates that church leaders who promote Yoga lack either clear discernment or they are unwilling to describe the legitimate means of grace that would give their congregation the real feeling of closeness to the Lord, which they obviously lack. Ultimately, the church is to blame for not preaching or teaching the Word.So why is there Christian Yoga at all?
 

  • Many are simply ignorant that it is an eastern religious practice.

 

  • Many churches look it as a hip new way to attract people. Increasing the numbers coming into the church is more important than worrying about its eastern religious roots.

 

  • Few have the information to stand against it and fear being viewed as judgmental if they challenge the practice.

 

  • Many Christians are already involved in Yoga, why upset them? 

Rather than trying to persuade Christians that they are in error, (the hard way) we have chosen to accommodate their error and call it "Christian" Yoga to make them feel better. For once I can say that on a spiritual topic I agree with the Hindus-there is no such thing as "Christian" Yoga.
Summation:
 

  • Why do we need to combine any form of exercise with prayer? When the disciples asked Jesus how they should pray did he respond by saying let's begin with jumping jacks? No, of course not. We can easily pray and exercise separately.

 

  • There are a multitude of exercise routines or stretching techniques to choose from that are equally as effective as Yoga exercises and do not have any religious ties. Choose another form of exercise.

 

  • Keep churches as a place to pray, preach and worship and fitness clubs a place to exercise. It's a radical idea but I think it can work.

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?  And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?  And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people." 2 Corinthians 6:14-16
I hope this explanation will persuade Christians to study the Bible to feel closer to the Lord and to find a form of exercise that doesn't yoke one to Hinduism.
 
 
 

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