Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Yoga and Satan

Is the path to hell paved with Yoga? This is the subject of a recent debate going on over at CT magazine.

Laurette Willis cays "yes, it is."

Then Agnieszka Tennant says "no, it is not."

And Holly Robaina defends her buddy Laurette, saying "oh yes, it is!"

Holly Robaina subtitles her rebuttal "How can I support a practice that is targeting the young and the weak?"

As a FMS sufferer I have been targeted. It happened in Physical Therapy. My PT said, "Kim, I'm going to teach you some basic Yoga that you can do at home to help with your pain and range of motion." I said "okay Frances, sounds good to me." I learned the moves and I now I do them several times a week. Watch out, or the same thing could happen to you!

Okay, I'll be serious for a moment. Is it possible that a Christian can be lured into apostasy by Yoga? My answer is that we all have a tendency to seek out false idols, but one man's false idol is another man's...whatever. We should examine ourselves, know our weaknesses and walk accordingly.


Steph Stanger said...

Kim, thats so crazy to me! I remember when Marks mom was in town I jokingly sat with my legs crossed and began to hum and boy oh boy did I get an earful!! Apparently her and a lot of other people believe that yoga and meditation is a door way to... I don't even know what... but something bad. I suppose there is always more to the story but I certainly think we shouldn't assume all relaxation techniques are sinfuful or inviting satan into your mind!

Friar Tuck said...

I have mixed feelings about this. When a teenager they tried to make us do transcendental mediation and I always opted out, feeling I would be surrendering to some evil spirit out there. Now, I have a nagging feeling that this spiritual practice could be redeemed for Christ, much like many of our Christain holidays are.

I say, find ways to convert the practice of YOGA to an act of worship for Christ, and read REIMAGINING SPRIRITUAL FORMATION with Pagitt's pro-yoga beliefs.

I think we neglect the possibility that we can pray with our bodies as much as with our minds.\

So, dont simply let Yoga be neutral. Redeem it for Christ.

Holly Vicente Robaina said...

Hi Kim. For my part, the essence of the debate is that it's important to differentiate between 1) yoga, and 2) stretching/deep breathing/relaxation/meditation. I think many people who've never stretched before discover yoga, absolutely love it, and then associate yoga as the only way to do stretching. It certainly is the most accessible and popular program out there.

I do stretches in my aerobics class every day, and I also do a stretching program twice a week. I meditate almost daily, focusing on a particular Scripture, a prayer, or "My Utmost for His Highest." All to say, I understand firsthand the appeal of stretch and relaxation, as well as our physical need for it.

Another way for me to think about this was to remember the emergence of Christian rap. A lot of people questioned, "How can Christians have anything to do with rap?" Rap was considered to be so filthy that it couldn't possibly be "redeemed." For me, it was thrilling--I loved rap and wanted to hear what Christians could do with the music genre. But I also knew that it wouldn't work to take gangsta rap, throw the word "Jesus" into it, and slap a Christian label on it. Several Christian artists took the beats, spoken word, and poetry of secular rap, and left out the profanity and violence. The result was incredible: tobymac and KJ-52 can mix beats and throw a line, in my humble opinion, even better than the likes of Kanye and Eminem. Maybe because those Christian rappers don't have an expletive to fall back on.

So along the lines of Friar Tuck's comment, I'm hoping more stretch/relaxation/meditation programs will be created so there will be alternatives to yoga. (I remember stretching in my junior-high gym class long before yoga programs hit the public school system.) And that more Christians will dig at the roots of yoga and recognize the Hindu spirituality that's there.

Kim Traynor said...

Hi Holly, welcome! I love the rap metaphor. George MacDonald once said something like "the quickest way to turn an indifferent thing evil is for good people not to do it."

I don't think Christians ought to be afraid to acknowledge either the benefits or the cultural history of Yoga. By putting together Yoga derivitive courses and refusing to acknowledge the source we make ourselves look reactionary, superstitious and hypocritical. Like Clint said, the church has never been squeamish about usurping pagan practices when they can be redeemed, why stop now?

Holly said...

(From Holly Vicente Robaina):

Hi Kim,

Just FYI, there's now a PraiseMoves class near you.

Instructor: Kim Carlson

Classes: Saturdays @ 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. at Blanchard Road Alliance Church, Wheaton

I used to attend Willow Creek Wheaton (AKA mini-Willow, though maybe it's not so "mini" anymore) when I lived out there. So when I found out about this class I thought of you because of your Willow Creek posts. Then again, folks drive hours from every which direction to get to the Mother Church, so this could be a long, long way from your home.