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.
The practice of Yoga actually alters biochemical functions of the endocrine system and is meant to achieve a changed state of consciousness so that a mind-altering state is produced that fuses male and female, light and darkness, good and evil, god and humanity in order to bring about psychic union with Brahman, who is highest of the Hindu gods
There is a legion of Christians who defend the practice of doing Yoga poses and exercises because they sincerely believe that they can have their heart and mind completely submitted to Christ without agreeing with, or following the philosophy or religious thought that it originates from. However, the priests who invented the poses and exercises of Yoga as acts of worship to their gods would disagree with them.
It would be illogical to say or assume that the vast majority of people who do Yoga for exercise never move toward eastern religious/philosophical thought. That is anecdotal at the very best because there is simply no empirical evidence to make such a supposition.
Meditation and yoking one’s mind with their body in Yoga has a firm and undeniable foundation in the occult. There are Born-Again Christians who rationalize the practice by naively believing that if their focus (meditation) stays on the Lord and they are taking care of (exercise/asana) their temple, the practice of Yoga can be beneficial to both mind and body. That is as absurd as a Born-Again Believer practicing Christianized satanism or Buddhism. The Believer is commanded to flee idolatry (1 Cor 10:1-14) and not try to redeem it.
The word “Yoga” is nowhere in the Bible. There are many things not specifically spoken about in the Bible, but there are numerous warnings about worshipping false gods - which is at the very foundation of what Yoga is all about. The Bible warns the Born-Again Christian to “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col 2:8-9 ESV).