I am not a fan of yoga. And it is less because it offends my Christian beliefs with its pagan god worshipping history, than the fact that it offends my body with its limb bending demands. When I did my two tours of P90x, yoga is the only DVD I skipped.
When I am doing Downward Dog though, am I worshipping a pagan god, or am I just stretching my hamstrings and lower back? When I raise my hands together in Warrior Pose am I filling my lungs with rejuvenating oxygen, or am I giving praise to a false idol?
Some yoga facts:
The word yoga means, “To join or yolk together” and its purpose is to bring the body and mind together in harmony.
There are over a hundred schools of yoga they are all built on the idea of combining exercise, breathing and meditation.
Stone carvings depicting figures in fundamental yoga poses date back 5000 years ago or more.
Yoga is not a religion.
Yes, you read that last fact correctly. Yoga itself is not a religion. If yoga was a website, there would be no “What We Believe” page detailing creeds, or idols and gods that must be worshipped.
But, you may be asking, what about the idea that it is rooted in Eastern Religions? Many world religions, such as Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism have adopted yoga as a part of their spiritual practice, and while yoga teachings spread from teacher to student through the years as Eastern religions incorporated yoga into their meditative practices, yoga actually predates the earliest religions by centuries.
This belief that yoga and the Eastern religions are as closely twined as yoga’s unity of body and mind is likely because yoga was first introduced to the western world in the mid-19th century by a Hindu teacher. It is understandable why westerners connected the two. The fact that yoga is an integral part of Eastern religious practices give the illusion that its poses are used to worship to Eastern gods.
Some Christians, like New Age specialist Doug Groothius, a professor at Denver Seminary believe, “all forms of yoga involve occult assumptions.” This opinion is shared by other Christian groups as well, believing that by engaging in yoga you are adopting the beliefs of Eastern religions, and are worshipping false idols.
So, when I can actually make it through a yoga DVD without toppling to the ground like a game of Twister gone bad, am I turning my back on my Christian God when I am doing Downward Dog or am I simply stretching my hamstrings and lower back? When I bow in Child’s Pose, am I bowing to the Eastern gods or am I resting in a gentle stretch?
No matter what some Christians believe, for me, when I perform yoga I am stretching, and strengthening and lengthening my limbs, and am not praising Eastern gods, or false idols. If I actually can get my mind off of the contortion my body is fighting to perform, I am praying to God, my Christian God, to give me the strength and peace to get through the workout, just like I do when I’m trying to get that last rep in the weight room, or that last half mile on my run.
Is yoga an exercise of choice for you? Why or why not?
When performing the moves, do you meditate with Christian praise?
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After Melinda Patton’s daughter moved away to college, she decided she had no more excuses keeping her from being in shape. Three years and 55 pounds ago she began a journey to become spiritually and physically strong and in the process discovered her passion and purpose in forging faith and fitness. She is now studying for her Personal Training certification and manages a facebook page called Strength for the Journey; Forging Faith and Fitness. Through her page, she encourages and empowers others to create strong and healthy bodies for Christ.
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