A friend of mine posted this article on my page the other day. You can read it here: https://www.edendecoded.com/blog-2/item/yoga. The whole “Yoga and Christianity” debate is annoying but one I’ve tried to stay out of mainly because putting it down on paper has been a challenge. “We all have our convictions” has been my mentality until I read the article and in the comments a young lady wrote “I am so devastated to read that yoga is not for Christians. I had no idea. It was recommended from my Dr. so as to help my illnesses, Chronic Fatigue and migraine, that yoga is gentle and a simple exercise for these illnesses. I have been going for about 10 months and has helped me alot. Now to learn I am displeasing God, I must quit for nothing is worth going to hell for.” This broke my heart. So here we go.
The origin of Yoga doesn’t so much concern me for 2 reasons: 1. It works. 2. The Bible says in Colossians 1:16 “For in Him ALL things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” Satan didn’t come up with anything. He uses the things that God creates and perverts them for his benefit. I believe this is the case for yoga. And I’m taking back what the Devil has used for centuries to confuse people and bringing it back to God’s original plan: to restore balance, to maintain health and to bring glory to His name.
Let's talk a litlte about what yoga means and what we are actually doing when we "practice" yoga.
The word yoga means to “unite.” It's a practice or system of increasing awareness and maintain physical, mental and emotional health. We do that by practicing the following:
1. Asana - the physical postures or shapes we put our bodies into to gain strength and flexibility. The names and shapes of the postures came from the original yogis imitating what they were seeing in nature. I like to think they wanted to gain the strength and grace of what they saw in the animals and in their surroundings. I was taught that they wanted to prepare their bodies for longer "sits" or meditations. But whatever the original reason for practicing these postures, they worked! So think of this as EXERCISE if the word asana scares you. Because no one argues that exercise is good for you and if you maintain a good range of motion in your joints, they're going to last longer and be less prone to injury. Facts!
2. Pranayama - breath control. The breathing practice of yoga has many practical benefits. When you're focused on counting your breaths, it's hard to focus on anything else. We'll talk more on "focus" below, so moving on. When you take slow, deep and even breaths, it keeps the heart rate down, breaks irregular breathing patterns, sends clean oxygen to the brain and helps release tension. And when you practice the Ujjayi breath, which is basically breathing like you're trying to fog up a mirror but with your mouth closed. You'll hear a little vibration/sound coming from the back of the throat (Darth Vader anyone?) and that vibration has been linked to stimulating the vagus nerve, which has it's hand in your digestive system, your central nervous system and your respiratory system, thus allowing all of those systems in the body to work more effectively and efficiently.
3. Meditation - simply means to focus your thoughts. Peruse the self help aisle and you'll find plenty of books on the importance of your thoughts, many from Christian authors. I've got at least 3 in my home. The author of this article acts like I don't have a mind of my own. And if I sit in a certain position, my mind is going to be forced to think about some foreign deity. I mean, come on! Also, apparently our attention span is like 8 seconds these days. You have to practice focusing just like you practice any other skill.
I do not believe any of these things are offensive to God. There’s no denying that yoga is an integral part of Hinduism, but so is fasting. Christians also fast. Yoga and fasting are not religions. Hinduism and Christianity are religions.
There is no doubt that Jesus used yoga to heal me. I knew Him before yoga but something shifted afterwards. This practice allowed me to open up, to be still and to hear His still small voice. He didn’t find it offensive. He didn't turn his head in disgust. He met me there. I’m not conjuring up spirits when I practice yoga, I’m doing something that’s giving me more flexibility and strength, not just on the outside but on the inside as well. I’m not opening myself up for evil influences, I’m opening myself up to Jesus. I went from taking 4 medications to 0. I haven't had a manic or depressive episode since I started the practice.
My God is bigger than any tradition or religion. If a person comes to his/her mat genuinely seeking “something” and is putting in the time to sit and wait, then who’s to say Jesus won’t show up? He says to “seek me and you will find me.” I believe with yoga blowing up like it has that there is an even bigger opportunity for people to hear God speak and feel Him move. The people who wrote this article make it sound like Jesus crosses his arms and snubs his nose to the air when someone gets on their mat. Shame on them. That’s not the Jesus I serve.