Michelangelo’s masterpiece, “The Creation of Adam,” in the Sistine chapel goes an incredible way towards depicting our true relationship with God and His desire for us. God is right there for us, we just have to reach out to Him because he is actively seeking us. We do not have to engage in extensive physical activities and spiritual disciplines to have a relationship with God.
Many people state that yoga helps them feel relaxed and gives them energy. These are the same effects that Transcendental Meditation espoused back in the 1970’s before it was finally deemed a religious practice. All TM practitioners were initiated in a “Puja” ceremony and brought offerings and made vows to Hindu gods when they received their mantras. All prospective TM’ers were told that they were only paying homage to eastern traditions and that the prayers were just to acknowledge the tradition and had no spiritual significance. Later the Maharishi relented and confessed that by being initiated into TM that you basically became a Hindu.
I believe that it is highly problematic for Christians to practice the discipline of yoga in the name of yoga, which means “union” with the divine, and expect it to help us get you closer to the “divine” or god. Our reconciliation with God is by faith and not by physical preparation or purification. (Colossians 2:23) “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) It is our sin that separates us from God, not our lack of physical purification. Bondage to strongholds of anger, bitterness, rage and sexual immorality will separate us from God and yoga in no way can address the reality of sin other than providing a mechanism to dissociate from it or deny the reality of it. In fact, forgiveness of sin does not exist in the Hindu karmic system.
Many Christians who practice yoga say that it allows them to relax and clear their mind. My question is does God really want us to clear our minds when we pray to him or is God really trying to have a conversation with us and bring up issues and anxieties that we need to attend to when we pray to Him. He wants us to give our cares to him but we need to own them before we can give them over to Him. He wants to be with us in our pain and teach us and heal us in the process. He doesn’t want us to send all of our cares, concerns, and un-reconciled emotions into some spiritual hyperspace through manipulation of our bodies and consciousness with yoga postures, breathing, and meditation techniques.
Yoga’s intent is to open us spiritually to powers and demonic forces and perhaps even principalities that God never had any intention of us messing with. This is exactly what the Hindu chakra system is all about. Although God created us and all things in the spiritual world including whatever spiritual reality chakras actually are, He gives us clear warnings in scripture about engaging the activities of the mediums, diviners, and channelers. The Chakra system is a scientifically unsupported metaphysical system hypothesized by Hinduism. In reality, the Chakra system is a way to open oneself to the channeling of spirits. Each Chakra has a Hindu deity associated with it.
Yoga is one of the severest forms of idolatry that one can engage in and, frankly, most Christians have a very weak understanding of the nature of idolatry. If we think that through manipulating our bodies and consciousness that we can get closer to God, we are worshiping ourselves to get to God. Think about it for a minute, the act of trying to clear our mind to reach some higher form of consciousness is actually focusing on the activities of our minds not focusing on God. We are actually engaged in one of the most extreme forms of self-focus which in reality is auto-idolatry.
From a philosophical and ontological point of view, is it really possible to try to clear our minds while trying to clear our minds? You are not really clearing your mind but engaging in an act of self-deception by trying to empty something that cannot be emptied. This is the deception that opens us up to the dark side. You are not clearing your mind but actually are opening yourself up to other spiritual realities that will deceive you by creating physical, mental and spiritual experiences and effects that are totally deceptive. The same goes for the general eastern idea of dissociating from the self or ego. It is just not possible. If we think that we can destroy some essence of who we are and how God created us to reach some higher state of consciousness we are deceived. Yes, we are to crucify ourselves to sin and the desires of the flesh but the eastern approach is entirely different.
If you say you are doing it only for exercise, why not try modern dance or other forms of stretching. Churches that are offering “Christian” yoga are not doing it simply for exercise but really because they think it will improve their “spirituality.” This is exactly the reason they shouldn’t be doing it. Are they offering weightlifting and aerobics classes? I think not. Why must Christians insist on grabbing onto every worldly trend and deny the clear warnings of scripture? God’s word tells us that there are things that he just doesn’t want us to do and he desires obedience over sacrifice. (Deut. 18 & 1 Samuel 15:22)
Many have accused me of not having a strong enough faith to engage in activities such as yoga and eastern meditation. My answer is- do you have enough faith to believe God’s Word and be obedient? Can you withstand the temptation not to engage in such an idolatrous and trendy activity such as yoga? The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.