Yoga. It's growing. It is nearly a "mainstream" activity -- perhaps it already is. I'm pretty certain I never heard the word "yoga" in the eighties or nineties -- although it was in the United States back then. Now, however, it's everywhere -- many cities have one or more yoga studios ... most brands offer a "yoga pant" ... and there are even books for kids about yoga! Oh, and I noticed that the online government school provides yoga instruction for elementary students.
In spite of this spreading of yoga ... there still are many who don't really know much about it and where it came from ... and so they are rather indifferent about it. If yoga keep gaining momentum -- as it likely will -- a friend might invite you to a yoga class in the not too distant future. And ... if you are uneducated about yoga ... or undecided about the whole yoga business ... you might find yourself joining the yoga movement as well.
I've been researching yoga a bit for the past few months ... prompted partially by encounters with Christians who are pro-yoga. How is yoga different from stretching??? Is their really some benefit from yoga that cannot be gotten elsewhere??? And most importantly, what does the Bible indicate we should believe about yoga??? It seems like there is so much one could say about yoga and its roots ... on the other hand, it seems very uncomplicated and requiring only a simple explanation.
Yoga only surfaced in the West early in the twentieth century ... but it didn't really take off until the 1960s. Its increasing popularity in the sixties was largely attributed to some Indian yogis moving here to expand this movement and also to The Beatles music group. "Yoga" isn't mentioned in the Bible. Yoga, however, is part and parcel of Hinduism ... which would be a false religion -- to Bible-believing Christians anyway. "There is no yoga without Hinduism -- and no Hinduism without yoga," said Caryl Matrisciana, author and filmmaker who grew up in India.
And what does Scripture have to say about false religions? The first commandment is that we worship the one true God -- we shall have no other gods. There is story after story in the Bible warning about false gods or telling what demise fell upon those who worshiped false gods and participated in false religion. The Israelites were forbidden from marrying pagans because of their false gods. Doing a little bit of Baal worship here or there -- alongside worship of Yahweh -- simply wasn't allowed for God's chosen people.
What if some Israelites decided they didn't want to tear down the Asherah poles??? What if they discovered that it was good exercise to dance around them??? Perhaps they could even sing praise songs while dancing around the Asherah??? Would it have been okay then??? Of course not. We cannot borrow something from a pagan religion and try to claim it for God. We are to "examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil."
1 Thessalonians 5: 21-22
Meditation, mantras, and emptying one's mind are also usually a part of yoga -- and these can open one up to demonic influences. How is it that this brings one to the demonic realm??? How exactly does this work??? I don't know -- but neither does anyone know how prayer works. What we can know is Ephesians 6:12 tells us that "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."
As I mentioned, there is lots more that could be said ... and these two sisters already said some of it ... and did a better job than I would anyway :) So ... I urge you to click over to their blog and read about how the yoga positions are prayer postures to hindu gods and are done in a certain order to open one up to an awakening ... and ultimately to union with Brahman. Also, they make an insightful comparison of yoga to Aaron and the idol from Exodus 32. Please read ... and "examine everything carefully" :)