As I was leaving the bank today, I noticed a flyer posted on a bulletin board peppered with typical community social events. But this one caught my attention:
Holy Yoga 1
Yoga - Worship - Biblical Meditation
Love the Lord your God, With all your heart,
Your soul, your mind, And your strength.
Phone numbers and locations were listed along with the $8 class fee. There was a photo of an obviously healthy young woman (and this seems to appeal primarily to women) in the typical yoga posture with legs crossed and hands resting on her knees, facing toward the ocean. It appeared quite peaceful. And super spiritual.
I stopped and pondered over this announcement for some time, reading the text, trying to absorb what the spiritual implications of “holy yoga” were.
In recent years there has been an exponential increase within the Evangelical Christian subculture in yoga. I confess I am bewildered by it. The announcement of “holy yoga” classes seems to me to be self-contradictory. I was under the impression that yoga was based upon eastern mysticism which has nothing in common with scriptural teaching. I always thought yoga was much more than physical exercise, with the goal of emptying the mind and freeing a person of stress by becoming one with the universe. Or something like that.
According to Wikipedia,
"Generally put, yoga is a disciplined method utilized for attaining a goal. The ultimate goal of Yoga is moksha though the exact definition of what form this takes depends on the philosophical or theological system with which it is conjugated. Bhakti schools of Vaishnavism combine yoga with devotion to enjoy an eternal presence of Vishnu. In Shaiva theology, yoga is used to unite kundalini with Shiva. Mahabharata defines the purpose of yoga as the experience of Brahman or Ātman pervading all things. In the specific sense of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, the purpose of yoga is defined as citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ (the cessation of the perturbations of consciousness). In contemporary times, the physical postures of yoga are used to alleviate health problems, reduce stress and make the spine supple. Yoga is also used as a complete exercise program and physical therapy routine." 2
So, according to Wikipedia and Holy Yoga, with yoga I can attain moksha [“the final extrication of the soul or consciousness from samsara (endlessly doing the same things over and over expecting a different result or looking for happiness to arise if we just try one more time), and the bringing to an end of all the suffering involved in being subject to the cycle of repeated death and rebirth” 3], enjoy an eternal presence of Vishnu [the All-Pervading essence of all beings, the master of—and beyond—the past, present and future, one who supports, sustains and governs the Universe and originates and develops all elements within 4], and get a supple spine all at the same time. For only 8 bucks! Plus, since I’m a Christian, I can love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength as well. After all, according to the Holy Yoga web site, "Holy Yoga is 100% Jesus and 100% Yoga." I just can't figure out how that is possible.
Unfortunately, it is becoming easier and easier for me to have less and less negative emotional reactions to such blasphemy as “holy yoga” simply because of the abundance of such pseudo-Christian ministries everywhere. Consequently I also find it easier and easier to accept the reality of the near total absence of genuine biblical discernment within the larger Evangelical world. I am becoming de-sensitized to the paganization of the Faith. 5 My faith. It is becoming increasingly costly to care deeply when yet another group of people who claim to be my brethren wander down the path into the doctrines of demons. 6
I have heard self-professed Christians deny the deity of Christ. I’ve heard “Christians” make the claim that Christians, Jews and Muslims all worship the same god. I’ve heard so-called Christians say there are many ways to God and to Heaven. I heard of a professing Christian who seriously actually asked the question, “So since when does God get to choose who is saved?” And now I am being introduced to Christian yoga, or “holy yoga” as a means by which I may love the Lord my God with all my mind. By means of yoga I can have a MUCH deeper experience with Jesus. This is akin to Christian Baal worship. Or Christian pornography. Or Christian prostitution or Christian gambling and bank robbing.
The words “holy” and “yoga” fit together like “holy” and “s--t” fit together. They don’t. The two words are antithetical. They are diametrically opposed. They are totally incompatible. They are irreconcilable. They are darkness and light. They are like Christ and Belial.
14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, "I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty." (2 Corinthians 6:14-18 ESV)
Beloved, this is not difficult. If you want to exercise, then go exercise. Go to the gym, run around the block, jump on the treadmill, swim laps in the pool. Twist your body into unrecognizable contortions if you like.
If you want to meditate, then get your Bible. “Think on these things” 7, and be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” 8
If you want to pursue a personal relationship with Vishnu, then practice yoga.
But do not think there is such a thing as Christian yoga. If it is Christian, it isn’t yoga. And most certainly, if it’s yoga, it isn’t Christian.
5. Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 4 ESV)
6. Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons (1 Timothy 4:1 ESV)
7. Philippians 4:8
8. Romans 12:2