Blogging about yoga, and so-called Christian yoga in particular, intimidates me. So many people (including one close friend of mine) feel that I really don’t understand the ability to practice yoga’s physical exercises without getting involved in the spiritual aspects like meditation. As a result, I pressure myself to write blog posts absolutely dripping with documentation. I assume that that practice gives me credibility.
But it rarely does.
I’ve learned that most evangelicals who engage in yoga simply aren’t interested in having anyone challenge them on this matter. They may not express open hostility toward me (some have, admittedly), but they certainly don’t take my point of view seriously enough to read the articles I present to them. One friend did read them and thankfully withdrew from her yoga class, but most give me a metaphorical pat on the head in silent acknowledgment that I don’t understand the subject as well as they do.
In response to their obvious condescension, I’ve collected several online articles explaining the various reasons that Christians should stay away from yoga. In anticipation of this essay, I looked at a few of them, hoping for a few quotes that would help make my case that yoga violates the First Commandment.
And God spoke all these words, saying,
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me. ~~Exodus 20:1-3 (ESV)
Did you know that every yoga pose represents worship to a Hindu deity? I must document this claim, even though all my research repeatedly verifies it as fact. Marcia Montenegro of Christian Answers for the New Age writes:
The Yoga most practiced by Christians is Hatha Yoga. The poses themselves are often depictions of Hindu deities, and the hand positions mimic the hand positions seen on the statues of Hindu gods. These hand positions are called mudras and are thought to help manipulate and channel prana, a supposed divine force or breath of the universe.(Source)
This quote, added to similar quotes from a variety of Christian and Hindu articles I’ve read about yoga over the past 11 years, affirms that yoga can’t be separated from its Hindu origins.
In opposition to those who try to separate the physical aspect of yoga from its Hindu foundation, the Hindu Wisdom website states otherwise:
Yoga is an integral part of the Hindu religion. There is a saying: “There is no Yoga without Hinduism and no Hinduism without Yoga.” The country of origin of Yoga is undoubtedly India, where for many hundreds of years it has been a part of man’s activities directed towards higher spiritual achievements. The Yoga Philosophy is peculiar to the Hindus, and no trace of it is found in any other nation, ancient or modern. It was the fruit of the highest intellectual and spiritual development. The history of Yoga is long and ancient. The earliest Vedic texts, the Brahmanas, bear witness to the existence of ascetic practices (tapas) and the vedic Samhitas contain some references, to ascetics, namely the Munis or Kesins and the Vratyas.
Now, I may be no more than an aging housewife with only a Bachelors degree in English Literature, but I beg you to consider the possibility that I’ve actually done my homework on whether or not Christians should practice yoga. Before you dismiss my concerns, do some research of your own. And ask yourself if practicing a form of Hindu worship allows you to obey the First Commandment.