I have over the past few months been asked important questions about yoga and why we can or cannot practice yoga as Christians. This is a short article on why we as Christ-Followers should not be entertaining this as a practice or exercise at all as it presents many dangers for the believer. This is not exhaustive, but I pray educational and informative as to its dangers and my concerns.
The apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:11 that everything written in the Old Testament, especially regarding the nation of Israel, was written for our admonition and learning so that we may not get involved in the very same practices as them and fall under the judgement of God. Isaiah the prophet warns Israel of their involvement with Eastern practices such as soothsaying which is an occultic practice warning them that God had “forsaken his people, the house of Jacob, because they were filled with Eastern ways; They were acting as soothsayers like the Philistines, and they were pleased with the children of foreigners” (Isaiah 2:6 own emphasis added).
Unfortunately, today we are confronted with the very same issue. We have not taken Paul’s admonition seriously (to not learn from Israel and her sins) and so now we ourselves are getting involved in Eastern practices which are opposed to scripture and the will of God. These practices prevalent in our day and age include that of Yoga, meditation, and what I will call focused breathing which all have their roots in Eastern Mysticism. Now most people see Yoga as physical exercise and stretching, but is that true? Is that all that it is?
Yoga has its roots in Hinduism which is one of the world’s oldest known organized religions. It exists primarily in India and Nepal and is a polytheistic religion which means they believe in many gods. They also believe in one supreme god who manifests himself differently, and he is impersonal, unknowable, and believed to be in everything. This is polytheism. Hindus believe that everything can be god and god can be everything. Yoga, therefore, is the practice whereby man can become a god or god himself. He or she can be yoked to god and become one with him through various recitations, incantations, breathing, stretching and the like. Every stretch or pose in yoga is a tribute to a Hindu deity. The whole practice was designed for a religious purpose and unfortunately, as Westerners, we do not know this. This opens the believer up to all sorts of spiritual concerns and problems.
Those who have researched this in-depth will know and understand that yoga has its roots in esoteric practice (specialized knowledge), an intense spiritual discipline according to its yogis (the instructors of yoga). Through this discipline, man must be “yoked” to Brahman (the Hindu concept of god) by attaining a state of consciousness also known as a “god-like” state. This is new-age thinking and philosophy and is extremely dangerous. One ex-yoga practitioner puts it this way:
“One of the first things I learned in my teacher’s training class was that I must talk to students about the philosophy behind yoga, that this was just as important as the exercise. Relaxation at the end of the yoga class is really hypnosis, where each part of the body is relaxed. So, while they were in the state, I read to them about Hindu philosophy or something from one of my guru’s books, so they got it whether they wanted it or not!
Yoga itself was developed to escape this world of time and reach enlightenment or “moksha”, also known as the Hindu heaven. With its breathing exercises and its certain body positions, yoga pays tribute to Hindu deities, sold under the guise of a “healthy lifestyle”, “better living”, “simple exercise” and “god consciousness”. The irony here is that Hinduism and its religion have no value to human life and seek death, to shed what is known as “bad karma”, something supposedly gained through past lifetimes. That is why this practice is so dangerous as it has no regard for human life and is a false philosophy. The Bible says that God created man in His image and in His likeness (Gen 1:26-27) and that man dies once and will await judgement (Heb 9:27).
Interestingly, it was the Beatles who brought yoga to the West through their many visits to India and their attempted yoking with the gods of Hinduism. The concept of yoga is this: reduce your breathing to a minimum, finally stopping the heart along with everything else. A Yogi by the name of Swami Rama could control his heart through physiological processes virtually stopping it when he needed to. This is occultic, dangerous, and detrimental to the Christ follower. Many people who have practised yoga have become very ill, mad, and have experienced trance-like states similar to those on psychedelic drugs. Through such practices one may experience coughing, shaking, asthmatic attacks, headaches, eye and ear pain, panic attacks, and other diseases. Many instructors have failed to warn their students of the dangers of practising yoga. Many have also failed to report bodily disorders, insanity, lunacy, and something extremely similar to that of demon possession.
As mentioned earlier the different unnatural bodily positions in practising yoga which are only thought to be stretches or exercises are used to invoke the gods of Hinduism. Any Yogi practitioner or anyone participating in this practice should know that this is in the foundational teaching and structures of yoga. Again, and very importantly, Hinduism believes that man is god and that he or she can be deified through death, which is an extremely deceptive teaching especially when it comes to the ultimate destiny of the body and soul. As crazy as it sounds many people who have practised yoga are believed to be in contact with the spiritual realm including having “alien” encounters.
The spiritual awakening sought after in yoga is also known as awakening the kundalini. The kundalini is a force which lies in 3.5 coils like a “sleeping serpent” near the cavity or the base of the spine which needs to be awakened in the body. The body, more specifically the spine, has seven points known as chakras which need to be awakened in the process eventually awakening the “third eye” where one then reaches a state of Nirvana. The releasing of the serpent is also known as “serpent power” and this goddess arises itself in the spine affecting each chakra on the way up to the final chakra which is the crown chakra. The third eye or the mind’s eye is then activated or awakened which then allows the participant to have this so-called psychic connection manifesting itself in occultic ability such as clairvoyance, astral projections and out-of-body experiences. This is extremely dangerous and contrary to scripture! This area is the area in which the spiritual and demonic realm are most interested in.
If we would only understand the repercussions and dangers of this practice, I submit that we would stay very far from it. It can mean death or insanity to those who practice it.
So, what does the bible say:
The Bible says that God created the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1). Soon after that man sinned and rebelled against His commands (Gen 3:15) causing sin and death to enter the world. Therefore, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23) and none are righteous in any of their ways (Rom 3:10). It is God who in His love and mercy gave us His only Son Jesus Christ (John 3:16) as a payment, sacrifice, and propitiation for our sins (1John 2:1-2). It is only through Him alone that we can be brought back into a relationship with God (John 14:6) being reconciled through the peace and the blood of His cross (Col 1:20). It is those who believe in Him and walk with Him who will be saved (Rom 10:9-10; Col 2:6-7).
Friends, we need to recognise that yoga is not a necessary practice and exercise at all, even if we seek to only stretch and breathe. It does not matter if anyone reading this has or has not experienced any of the things listed above, the fact remains that it is an occultic practice and is still possible and we need to be on guard against this false and very misleading ideology. If it has its roots in Eastern mysticism, we need to acknowledge that and disregard it completely. We need to seek repentance and heed the call to moral and spiritual purity. It is only through salvation that our sins can be forgiven and that we can become children of God. Anything we partake in as professing Christ followers that is not of the one true God and Jesus Christ is involvement in Mystic religion and the occult. Remember, that God by His Spirit will not share his abode with anyone or anything else.
This is a loving warning, and I am deeply concerned about this practice within the church and Christianity as a whole!
14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ [2 Corinthians 2:14-17].
Sun Valley Community Church
*some of my ideas have been borrowed from the Truth Watchers article