The question of yoga and christianity came up recently. I once would have been of the opinion that anything can be ‘redeemed’ that if it is done with faith in Jesus then there is no reason that a Christian couldn’t participate. That if we just changed the words – what does it matter about the ‘poses.’ However – now that I have a greater appreciation for ‘physical worship’ and the sacraments, my views on this have definitely changed. Here below are where they are just now.
Where does Yoga come from?
What does it do to you?
Why does it ‘work’?
Why is it relaxing?
What is bringing you peace?
If it is Jesus that is bringing the peace – then what is the point of the stretches – the positions?
Is yoga ‘neutral’?
Some people would insist that yoga is – at it’s core – just stretching, that it is neutral. But this assumes a worldview where our bodies are not spiritual, that physical realities can’t ‘involve’ spiritual realities. It relies on a world where the physical is purely mechanical, and not linked in any way to the spiritual.
However this is not the bible’s view of reality. We could talk about human bodies that are body and soul, we could talk about sacraments – how spiritual life is given to us through physical means. Or we could even speak about Jesus himself in the incarnation – fully God and Fully man – no divide… (to deny the interaction of spirit and bodies would be to deny the resurrection)
More and more I think that there is nothing truly inherently spiritually ‘neutral’. The whole world is spiritual, it is filled with spirits and none of these spirits are neutral. They either serve King Jesus, or they are in rebellion against Him.
Things that can be ‘redeemed’ are things that God has made good and that the devil has used for evil. We could take for example Alcohol. In several places God speaks of the warmth and joy of wine, it is good! But we also know that anything good can be abused, and the world does abuse it. The worlds abuse of Gods good gift of alcohol under the influence of the devil, does not mean that we can no longer use it for good. We recognise it was ours first, we are using it as intended, and so we can continue.
But the more I look into and understand Yoga, the more the idea sticks in my head that it did not come from God – but that it came rebel spiritual beings.
How did humans learn things?
Genesis 6:1-4 says this:
‘When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.’
As we read this with our modern heads it sounds really weird! Then v5 continues:
‘The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth…And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth…So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land’
What happened in vv1-4 – that resulted in the wickedness of man being so great, that God had to send the flood? Well – humanity chose to be taught how to live from rebel spiritual creatures, from rebel gods…
Humanity rebels and rejects the life of The LORD God, and then joins itself to these other rebel gods, and there are two results of this rebellion. First the birth of these giants – the Nephilim, who will continue to rebel against God and try to kill the seed of the gospel throughout the Old Testament. And secondly it also results in the complete corruption and wickedness of man. The bible is telling us in no uncertain terms that this was bad… this is not how God created human life to be!
There is another telling of this same story, a Babylonian version found in The Epic of Gilgamesh. It’s the same story, but a very different telling. In the Babylonian version, the gods come down and do *wonderful* things for humanity, they have relationships with women, who then give birth to mighty kings and warriors who will protect them…
The gods also teach them amazing things about the universe including how to make and use drugs, how to be promiscuous. Astrology – how to read the stars to discover the secrets of the universe, and how to perform dark arts…
In their version of the story – the gods coming and joining with them, and teaching them is a great thing – it allows them to succeed in the world, and become the greatest civilisation on the earth…
Yoga originates in eastern spirituality, I believe it was taught to humans by fallen spiritual beings as a way of to succeed in this world, as a form of worship of these spiritual beings, and to open humans up to their influence.
We might say “well – I will do the stretches, but instead of the chants and mantras I will instead praise Jesus”. This of course is a great instinct, but it’s not just words that matter, movements how power too.
Take for example the sign of the cross. That is Christian, and it cannot be ‘redeemed’ by another religion. It has originated from Jesus for Christians and is inherently a body movement that connects us to Jesus. Used incorrectly it is not neutral because someone is claiming something with that body movement: connection with Jesus and His crucifixion – which if not true is blasphemous and spiritually dangerous.
Our bodies are not just ‘flesh machines’, they are not just biological, they are spiritual, they are eternal and will be resurrected to eternal life or eternal death. This might seem a bit our there – and I’m still working this through – but – it seems to me that bodies work in certain ways and that it is possible to ‘open’ and ‘close’ them in different rituals – perhaps even in ritualistic shapes…
At the very least what we can say is that what we do with our bodies effects us spiritually. Do we open our mouth to praise God or curse God? Do we use our hands to serve others, or oppress others. Do we take Holy Communion into our body? Or do we take in mind altering drugs to commune with spirits?
I’m not necessarily saying that you can become possessed through making certain body shapes (but I’m not saying you couldn’t if you are not a Christian) – but ‘not being possessed’ isn’t a very high standard… “oh I just hang around with demons – but I don’t let them in…”
It seems to me that there is something about these movements and positions that are spiritual, but not holy. It seems to me that it is a practice that has been taught by fallen spiritual beings to keep humans from Jesus.
We have to ask why does it work? What is ‘happening’ in yoga? Why do people have a certain experience when doing it? Is is all just coincidence – or is there something real happening to people?
If a person feels relaxed and at peace – who is ministering to that person? Eastern spirituality speaks of ‘inner peace’ but we know there is no peace in the heart of man – where does this sensation come from? External then – by through which servant?
From another source
Here is what a someone who practiced Yoga for a number years before becoming a Christian has to say (you can read more here: https://orthochristian.com/80417.html) – my thoughts in red.
- The literal meaning of yoga is ‘yoke.’ It means tying your will to the serpent kundalini and raising it to Shiva and experiencing your ‘true’ self. All paths of yoga are interconnected like branches of a tree. A tree with roots descending into the same areas of the spiritual world. This is evident in the ancient books the Bhagavad Gita and the Yogic Sutras of Patanjali. I learned that the ultimate goal of yoga is to awaken the kundalini energy coiled at the base of the spine in the image of a serpent so that it brings you to a state whereby you realize Tat Tvam Asi.
We cannot help but notice the echoes of Eden. Yoking/tying/binding ourselves to the serpent, the dragon – instead of the Son
- To be clear, Hinduism does not refer to a specific religion. It is a term the British gave to the various cults, philosophies and shamanistic religions of India. If you ask one Hindu if he believes in God, he may tell you that you are God. But ask another, and he will point to a rock, or statue, or a flame of fire. This is Hindu polarity: either you are God, or everything else is a god. Yoga is beneath this umbrella of Hinduism, and in many ways is the pole of the umbrella. It acts as a missionary arm for Hinduism and the New Age outside of India.
Again – if this is true it makes a lot of sense, and we can only conclude that it has been successful. It was not too long ago that yoga was a fringe activity for hippies – now it is in every community centre and health club, disguising itself as nothing more than a stretching routine. And intrest in eastern spirituality has exploded in the west.
- …the postures of yoga are not religiously neutral. All of the classic asanas have spiritual significance. For example, as one journalist reports, the Sun Salutations,—perhaps the best-known series of asanas, or postures, of hatha yoga—the type most commonly practiced in America—is literally a Hindu ritual.
- To think of yoga as a mere physical movement is tantamount to “saying that baptism is just an underwater exercise.”
- Teachers and students typically greet each other with the Sanskrit ‘namaste,’ which means, “I honour the Divine within you.” This is an affirmation of pantheism and denial of the true God revealed in the Bible. The Sun Salutations, or, Surya Namaskara, originated with the worship of the Hindu solar deity Surya.
- Yoga isn’t Scriptural nor is it otherwise part of our Church’s Holy Tradition. Everything we’re looking for, everything, can be found in and through the Church. So what would we want from yoga?
- …Furthermore, something should be said in relation to the claim that ‘pop’ forms of gym yoga carry no danger or threat to a practitioner. Someone who holds such an opinion is either ignorant of, or chooses to ignore, the many warnings that appear in the eastern yoga manuals concerning the Hatha yoga that is practiced in such classes. Is the instructor aware of these warnings and able to guarantee that no harm will come to the student?
When we realise that signing up to a yoga class is signing up to be led through a spiritual ceremony, it is little comfort for the instructor to say ‘oh its not spiritual’… it just means that they don’t know what they are playing with and cannot keep the practitioners safe from the serpent.
- In his book Seven Schools of Yoga, Ernest Wood begins his description of Hatha yoga by stating, “I must not refer to any of these Hatha Yoga practices without sounding a severe warning. Many people have brought upon themselves incurable illness and even madness by practicing them without providing the proper conditions of body and mind. The yoga books are full of such warnings…. For example, the Gheranda Samhita announces that if one begins the practices in hot, cold or rainy weather, diseases will be contracted, and also if there is not moderation in diet, for only one half the stomach must ever be filled with solid food….
- As Orthodox Christians, we know that the actions of our bodies, such as bows, prostrations, and making the sign of the Cross have a relationship to the state of our soul before the True God. Why would we ever chance copying bodily actions that for centuries have been directly related to the worship of demons? Such actions could have serious consequences for both our soul and body which belong to Christ.
I admit I know nowhere near as much as I should about Yoga, and there may be some who knowing more would push back on some of my assertions. But I know this – this world is full of spirits, for good and evil, and we are in a war.
Once upon a time I would have been of the view that you could do Yoga and just think and say different words and it would be fine – because what has the body/physical got to do with the spiritual…? With the advent of my understanding of physical church and all that goes along with that – I can no longer conclude that the ‘physical doesn’t matter’, that we can just over-ride it with words. There is a reality to these things – bodies mean things. Shapes mean things. Ritual movements, mean things.
How has humanity learned yoga?
Humanity has never learned anything themselves – we’ve always had to be shown how to be human – the question is – who is showing us?
Are we going to wait to be shown by the divine man – or are we going to listen to other lesser Elohim, gods, devils, who’s motives are not to help us?
It’s what we see in the garden.
For what it is worth I would not let my wife, or any of my children do yoga.