Summary: A Detailed Look at the Practice of Yoga
There are multiple diet books published each year and creative new ways to sell products that are offered to lose weight and feel great! Dieting is a multi-billion dollar industry. It is true that God wants every Christian to take care of their body – which is His temple! Being careful of what one eats, and exercising daily goes a long way to helping a person stay healthy. In fact, most of the diet companies state that truth in small print on their products.
However, there is one ancient religious practice, known as Yoga, which has been dressed up in modern garments and sold as a harmless exercise which has been embraced by many Christians to stay in shape and burn off calories. It has been estimated that over twenty million people in the USA practice Yoga which is taught by more than 70,000 practitioners. No matter how one might package it, or dress it up - when it is stripped bare to its roots and fully exposed - it is far more than exercise!
Yoga is the central heart of Hinduism and the worship of demonic idols in the form of meditative exercise. It dates back over 5,000 years and originated from the Hindu and Vedic cultures. The word “Yoga” is the Hindu word for salvation because it was intended by its seers to be used as an instrument to lead those who practice it to have the human “self” absorbed into the “divine self” and to become “yoked in union” to the gods of Hinduism as a person apprehends the absolute, ultimate Brahman reality. Over 90% of Hindus agree that without Yoga, there is no Hinduism.
There are seven main kinds of Yoga: Hatha Yoga, Bhakti Yoga (devotion), Karma Yoga (action), Jnana Yoga (wisdom), Mantra Yoga, Tantra Yoga, and Raja Yoga (royal). More than 1,500 Yoga postures (poses/positions) have been documented in classical Yoga texts. Yoga uses an eight-limbed system based on two fundamental principles called the Yamas (restraints) and niyamas (observances) of Hinduism. The remaining six limbs are known as asana (postures), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (sense withdrawal), Dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (contemplation/self-realization). It is impossible to separate the “limbs” in the practice of Yoga from its spiritual center.
The most popular Yoga taught in the USA is Hatha Yoga, which uses ‘asanas’ for seemingly innocent stretching poses for exercise and ‘mantras’ to relax and clear the mind. However, the ‘asanas’ are actually worship postures to Hindu deities, who are believed to ride on animals. Many of the ‘asana’ poses mimic the movements of creatures such as a snake, dog, fish, monkey, tortoise, elephant, etc., as well as the Sun and Moon. The hand postures (mudras) in Hatha Yoga re-enact the exact shape and same hand postures on the statues of Hindu gods.
It is true that there are proven health benefits in practicing Yoga exercises. However, a person cannot separate them from their Occultic roots. Just because the exercises of Yoga can have physical benefits does not mean that it is acceptable to God and should be enjoyed as part of the abundant life Jesus promised.