CNN: Beyond “Namaste”: The Benefits of Yoga In Schools.

Students and teacher doing yoga pose

In response to Ms. Dana Santa, author of the CNN website article titled linked below, it is fairly typical for Westerners to be clueless about the spiritual nature of pantheistic religious practices and their supposed mind-body benefits especially when there are big bucks to be made in the multi-billion dollar yoga industry. These know it all yogis & yoginis typically have zero understanding of the nature of Hinduism, the potential dangers to Eastern meditation or the true goals of yoga. Most research studies on yoga are poorly controlled and rarely show benefits that exceed other forms of exercise or quiet practices like listening to music or reading poetry. It is very difficult to control for expectation effects in these research studies especially when you are engaged in such an obviously cool and trendy practice which just has to be better for everyone!

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Yoga Crowds Out Music, Art and PE in Encinitas Public Schools

Pupils meditating on classroom desks

 

Many years ago I posted a link to an article from Hinduism Today, titled “An Open Letter to Evangelicals”, written in 1991. This evangelical transformation is now almost complete.  The Sonima Foundation, which spearheaded introducing Hindu based yoga into the Encinitas, California public schools, has now backed out of funding the program.   Now the newly formed yoga disciples in the public schools are demanding the funding for the program at the cost of a mere $800K next year.   As reported in the San Diego Union-Tribune, parents were not given options other than to fund yoga program but were offered no alternatives in PE, music or the arts.

Interestingly, the Sonima Foundation doesn’t appear to be interested in long-term funding of these programs but just forcing them into school districts around the country and have them fund the programs and, when necessary, defend them in court all under the banner of “wellness.”

Encinitas schools propose $800K for yoga classes. San Diego Union-Tribune

What Makes the Encinitas School Yoga Program Religious? Huffington Post

A Review: “The Buddha Pill – Can Meditation Change You?” by Dr. Miguel Farias & Catherine Wikholm

buddhaPillsmall

 

The potential negative effects of Eastern types of meditation have been known for decades, if not hundreds of years.   I applaud psychologists Drs. Farias and Wikholm for taking an objective, balanced view and going against the spin of the “mindfulness” movement.   They both have done extensive research and have deep knowledge of the field.  Although they take a more secular, spiritually sanitized, approach toward yoga and meditation, I highly recommend their book “The Buddha Pill.”  They do an excellent job of summarizing the often poorly controlled research into the effects of mediation as well as sharing several anecdotal cases of some of its disastrous outcomes.

I am very heartened that the authors have chosen to go against the grain as the mindfulness movement picks up steam as a therapeutic alternative to other forms of therapy.   One of the most important subtleties that the authors raise is whether this Buddhist approach of “mindfulness” meditation is short-circuiting a deeper, more thorough approach toward healing.

Dealing with memories and thoughts in Buddhist approaches often involves taking a non-judgmental stance toward often emotionally charged thoughts and memories by accepting them nominally as just “mental events.” The issue is that this approach just seeks to decondition the emotional charge of the thought or memory and does not deal with the holistic reality of why the memory still maintains an emotional charge or irrational belief.

Since “mindfulness” is often about neutralizing beliefs about the moral nature or importance of past actions held in memories, it is indeed entering the spiritual realm and is not spiritually neutral.  Given its spiritual nature, it would be beneficial to measure the effectiveness “mindfulness” compared to Christian approaches to healing prayer.   Christian prayer ministry approaches such as “Theophostic Prayer” seek to have God by His Holy Spirit bring truth to the memories and seek to dismantle the lies or irrational beliefs that the person holds about the memory or thought.

Since much of Dr. Farias and Wikholm’s research was directed to the efficacy of using “mindfulness” meditation and yoga to potentially address inherently spiritual issues in prison populations, other spiritually rooted interventions should be compared as well.   However, given the secular bias towards Eastern interventions that can supposedly be more easily separated from spiritual beliefs, I don’t see this happening anytime soon.  What we see happening in the “mindfulness” movement is just a replay of Transcendental Meditation movement trying to market TM as a purely physiological process in the 1970’s.

Bob Larson weighs in on Yoga

From Bob Larson’s Blog post:  Yoga Takes Over

Scenes from San Francisco Airport concourse.
A week ago, on my way home, passing through San Francisco Airport (SFO), I was exhausted with a little time on my hands. Thinking I might find a quiet chapel, which almost all airports used to have, I was instead confronted by signs directing me instead to a yoga room. I peeked inside, and sure enough, there, in pretzeled positions, were travelers in various stages of yogic enlightenment. Most folks, especially liberal, New Aged Californians, wouldn’t think much about this. To me, it was more than an acquiescence to multiculturalism; it was a vivid sign of the times. When people today want peace, rest, and tranquility, they don’t pray to a transcendent deity. They evoke the yogic god within, align their chakras, and awaken the Kundalini power at the base of the spine. And they get demons.
Spare me. I’ve heard all the idiot arguments of so-called Holy Yoga, Yoga for the Soul, and Praise Moves, and Yahweh Yoga (all claiming incongruously to be “Christian”). It’s hard for me to charitable and gracious to these deceptions which are the result of abject, willing ignorance. My book Larson’s Book of World Religions (To order CLICK HERE.) has 35 pages of references to yoga, all heavily documented from original Hindu sources. Those who really want the truth can read the book. No need to repeat all its contentions here; but it’s obvious I’m not talking off the top of my head through some religiously, legalistic mindset.
Briefly consider these few points I extract from the book:
  • One of the supreme texts of yoga declares, “The aim of all yoga is realization of the Absolute Brahman” [Hindu demon-god]. The aim is to unite with a demon, one that I’ve cast out many times from advocates of yoga.
  • Famed Hindu mystic Swami Vishnudevananda, who helped to bring yoga to the west, wrote, “The aim of all yoga practice is to achieve truth wherein the individual soul identifies itself with the supreme soul of god.” But what god???
  • My book states: “The postures are designed to condition the mind to experience altered states of consciousness. Each pose is presumed to be tuning the body, glands, and psychic nervous system to a level of spiritual susceptibility and altered awareness.”

There isn’t enough space here to address the fallacy that Yoga (which in Hindi means “union or yoked with god”) can be casually dissociated from its pagan origins simply because some willingly deceived Christian yoga instructor redefines its intent. Almost every week, I pick up the spiritual collateral damage of those who got sucked in to this lie of “Christian” yoga and became demonized. I know of no legitimate exorcist or deliverance minister who approves of such nonsense. Get my book. Read all I have to say. Enroll in our International School of Exorcism® (CLICK HERE to enroll.) and get educated to the real battlefront of spiritual warfare. And tell everyone you know that yoga is a direct pathway to spiritual oppression that is not easily removed.

Reprinted with permission

The Daily Mail: New Research and Book warns of the Dangers of Meditation

It is about time.  Finally the researchers are getting honest.  Back in the 1980’s Germany sponsored studies on Transcendental Meditation that reported problems of insomnia and other physical problems.   The researchers are finally proving what the yogi’s have known all along.

From the Daily Mail:

The dark side of meditation and mindfulness: Treatment can trigger mania, depression and psychosis, new book claims

“Spiritual Correctness” in Evangelical Churches Opens door to Occult “Yoga Miracle” Healing

“Wary Christians Flee Nevada Church after Yoga Miracle” by Valerie Tarico

With the “Spiritual Correctness” of modern evangelicalism opening the door to heretical fads like “Christian Yoga,” it was only a matter of time for the enemy display the fullness of his talents.  Modern evangelicalism has refused to accept the New Testament spiritual warfare worldview taught by our Lord Jesus.   The church has succumbed to the pantheistic and pluralistic worldview where if it is spiritual, and apparently good things happen, it must be of God.  The church must move beyond its Spiritually Correct worldview which acknowledges the miracles and spiritual warfare in New Testament times but functionally treats its belief in the supernatural as though it were reminiscent of a mere mythical legend for today.

Spiritual, Yoga Worlds Collide At San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral

labyrinth_yoga_1

As one of the main centers of syncretism in the Episcopal Church, Grace Cathedral of San Francisco combines the Hindu rituals of yoga with the spirituality of the labyrinth.  Instead of kneeling down in submission and praying to God as Jesus did, many think they can be in direct relationship with God by manipulating their bodies, controlling their breathing and clearing their minds.  I think it would be hard for God to think he has our attention while participating in such practices.

In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus said that Mary had chosen what was better by listening to him while sitting at his feet while Martha was distracted by other tasks of being a host.  Yoga is actually an activity of extreme self-focus: controlling the body, breath and mind as a pathway of self-worship to reach the so-called “divinity” within as opposed to reaching out to have a relationship with the person of God in Jesus Christ.  Think about it. How easy would it be for you to have an intimate conversation with a close friend while they were doing the downward dog?

 Spiritual, Yoga Worlds Collide At San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral