I was recently asked to respond to an article, discovered by one of my students. I have touched on this topic before but am always excited to return to the debate.
Therefore, let me present to you my response to the following article: Should Christians Do Yoga
First of all, let me say I admire Laurette for what she is doing. PraiseMoves is a great idea! I have tried similar techniques in my yoga classes before, and I am excited to see she is using postures and scripture together to minister to many.
It is difficult to do postures like the traditional yoga postures, and not feel like they were designed to connect you to the Divine. Yet I disagree that simply doing a certain posture means you believe in its origins.
She says “If you do these postures and you do this breathing technique and this meditation, then you will be accepted by a god, little “G.” That’s the real danger,”
But to say that doing certain techniques connects you or puts you in danger with gods is to say you believe those gods are real. You can’t worship gods unknowingly and you can’t worship something in which you really don’t believe.
In the same way, you can go to church and sit in a pew. You can even sing hymns and not believe in God. Just because you go through the motions, doesn’t mean you are truly worshipping.
I think it is interesting that she uses Acts 15:29 about abstaining from meat sacrificed to idols as a reason to abstain from things that were defiled by a false religion. What is interesting to me is that the New Testament shows the early church returning to this debate time and time again along with other issues like circumcision because these are issues of the heart and conscience, not New Testament Laws from God.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8 that we know there is no such thing as idols and that it is not wrong to eat of that meat.
I am aware, you can’t read this passage and not mention that he says we should abstain from the act if it makes our weaker brother stumble. And Laurette mentions that in her article too. Yet, I don’t see how anyone can stumble in a Christian yoga atmosphere. That is the purpose of Christian yoga.
We have a responsibility as Christians to be discerning and cautious in the yoga culture. I have always made that a core principle with my business. And I hope that my classes can be a safe haven for people to come and practice yoga without the New Age or Hindu influences of yoga.
I believe Christian Yoga is not an oxymoron because our minds are focused on one God. The true God. We are not emptying our minds for the sake of demon oppression or simulating out of body experiences.
Another thing to realize when you practice yoga is that there is science behind everything too.
It is not all spiritual. I practice pranayama in my classes because it is a vital part of every exercise style. Breath is something that is vital to life and the health of our bodies. I practice emptying the mind because it decreases cortisol, increases mental strength, and can even cure insomnia. I practice ancient Christian chants because there is a connection to certain syllables and stimulating the vagus nerve that stimulates the brain, as well as being restorative and connecting us with God.
The Art of Yoga. The Path of Christ. That is the Christian Yoga Studio I create. What I do is take the teachings of yoga, put it under a Christian magnify glass, and create a safe place where you can grow and heal.