Monday, July 31, 2006

Christian Yoga-Oxymoron

by Brian Flynn

Why is there such a thing as Christian Yoga? It certainly has no scriptural or biblical basis in support of 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? If you do not believe me than this newspaper article called "Is Yoga Debased by Secular Practice" should prove it. After you have read the article please click the link at the bottom of the page to return for my comments.

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The description of Yoga is contradictory with Christianity, "Its practice strives to unite the individual soul with the "greater soul" of the universe..." The response from Christians who practice Yoga state that they do not use the meditations normally associated with Yoga. However, the meditations are not the only problem. "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 to use then one that is clearly connected to eastern religions? Even the Hindus in the linked article are stating that it is a Hindu religious practice and to stop pretending that it isn't a Hindu religious practice! They seem a bit upset don't they?

If I were to come to a Hindu sanctuary and introduce them to the following meditation technique what do you think would be their response? Get on your knees, clasp your hands together and repeat over and over again, "I accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior". Do you think they would embrace it? I doubt it. So why do we as Christians embrace their religious prayer, meditation or practice? It must be that the Hindus recognize a religious practice when they see it and Christians simply cannot or will not.

When people share their reasons for exercise they will state, fitness, health, losing weight etc. However, when you ask them about Yoga the purpose for practicing it is almost always related to stress relief. If Christians are not participating in the meditative portion of Yoga than 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 reason for practicing Yoga, without the meditation it isn't any more of a stress reliever than any other form of exercise. Therefore, why not choose a different type rather than one borrowed from Hinduism?

If your reason for practicing “Christian” Yoga is to feel closer to God why would you believe that a Hindu ritual would accomplish this? 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 given them what they really need) they resort to a false practice. It also demonstrates that the church who promotes Yoga lacks 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 of 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 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.
I hope that this explanation will persuade Christians to study the Bible to feel closer to the Lord and find a form of exercise that doesn't yoke one to Hinduism.

Brian Flynn 2005

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob Bell has promoted such practices in a sermon at his church. I heard it with my own ears. Weird and dangerous stuff!

5:12 PM  
Blogger Henry (Rick) Frueh said...

I prefer Christian Yogi to Yoga. Everthing now is completely constructed as to fit into the deep pockets of man's desire and schedule. It won't be long before the church will scroll the stock market quotes underneath the song lyrics on the big screen so as to aid in multi-tasking. Don't worry, Jesus, we have you on our address book in our blackberries!

8:02 PM  
Blogger Kennyo said...

well said Rick, the real question is--are we written in God's book? That is the question people should be asking.

10:12 PM  
Anonymous dPazos said...

This is a blatant example of religious syncretism. I think Eastern religions or concepts have simply become trendy for many in the Post-modern West. They do not care about truth in many cases, so long as they are in vogue. LOL about the stock quotes scrolling at the bottom of the screen in churches. Ha! I guess that would make churches more sensitive to the business class, since they are trying so hard to attract these affluent suburbanites. Maybe a Bible study at Starbucks would appeal to the same business class. Many reasonable Christians have already tuned out the marketing techniques. We are making fun here, but some Christian leaders have taken such trendy fluff pretty seriously. LOL!

11:10 AM  
Anonymous dPazos said...

Kenny:
I would not recommend you attending any Hindu temples.
I enjoyed attending your Christian Presby Church (where Yoga is Never practiced) last weekend. The form of Hinduism which has become popular in the West would be Hare Krishna. They are not even purely Hindu because they mix all different ideas from different philosophies and religions, although their main philosophical source is Hindu. Remember that we hold to a claim to Truth, whereas Hinduism and pagan religions in general do not hold to any such claim, least so in the absolute sense of Truth. If you do not claim to be sure of truth, then it follow that philosophical mixture is allowed. Of course, if we claim to be convinced of the truth, even Truth with a capital T, then mixture with any lies is forbidden.
The difference seems quite clear to me. Remember this when dealing with religions or philosophies that are open-ended, precisely so because they do not claim definitive knowledge of truth.
On a lighter note, the Hare Krishnas amuse and annoy many tourists at Airports! I wonder what the heck are they thinking when I see their ridiculous dance number!

11:30 AM  
Blogger Kennyo said...

Well said Danny, I like the way you describe your viewpoint

3:34 PM  
Anonymous Andrew Tatum said...

"Why is there such a thing as Christian Yoga? It certainly has no scriptural or biblical basis in support of it."

There is no biblical basis for Christian books, or christian camping, or christian youth groups, or christian conferences, or christian televangelists either.

Just because the early christians didn't practice something, does that mean that we shouldn't. There are many things in eastern practices that aren't spiritual and can be practiced without "fear" of being manipulated by outside spiritual forces. I would say that yoga is one of them.

Just a thought.

7:14 AM  
Anonymous Andrew said...

Another quick comment. You mentioned that many of the motions and postures are oriented toward sun-worship. That may be true. But being so picky about what the posture was originally meant for would mean that we would have to stop celebrating Christmas, easter, and just about every other day in the Christian calendar. Those dates were set by Constantine in an attempt to appease those Roman citizens who were uncomfortable with Christianity replacing Roman worship as the official religion. In particular, historically speaking, our Christmas holiday, as we celebrate it on September 25, was created to be a manipulation of the winter solstice celebration which typically involved drunkeness, orgies, and worship of a sun-diety. So, some of our most cherished church practices were what you would probably call "man-made." And, indeed, some of them mark places in the calendars of those who created them that originally marked a celebration of their practices and customs that are not native to Christianity. But aren't these dates and customs useful for our worship of Christ? They certainly do not distract us from the worship of the true God, do they? Just a thought. God bless and keep the faith!

~Andrew

7:26 AM  
Anonymous Andrew said...

Oh, and I just noticed that I wrote "September 25th" instead of "December 25th." I guess when it's early in the morning the brain doesn't work as well. Sorry for the typo. You can delete those comments or choose not to post them if you like. I just wanted to offer a different perspective.

God bless,
~Andrwe

7:45 AM  

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