Should Christians Practice Yoga?

In the past week several people approached me to ask about the Eastern religious roots of yoga. I felt compelled to bring a rebuttal of a recent sermon a prominent pastor spoke on the “demonic influences” of yoga. Why am I qualified to speak out? I have been in Christian ministry for the past 30 years: trained in the International School of Theology and have studied scripture carefully many years in order to “accurately handle the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). I’ve also been practicing and teaching yoga for several years and have seen a significant change in my body because of it.

Personally

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I was skeptical of yoga when I first started practicing. I had beat my body up in many high impact sports such as racing motorcycles and mountain bikes and needed to find some kind of exercise to not only stay in shape, but also help me heal the impact injury these sports had caused. I came to a 26 posture hot yoga class and knew immediately it was something that would help my body.

 

There was no chanting, only coaching on how to do the postures correctly and safely. At the end we were to lie down and rest in “savasana.” During this time I would pray. I asked the Lord to bless the studio and draw the hearts of the teachers and students around me to want to know Christ and walk with him.

 

God answered my prayer above and beyond what I imagined. The owner soon asked me to be the chaplain of the studio. We began to have Bible studies there, play Christian music in the lobby and the owner would share scripture at the end of class. The studio has become such a light and I’ve seen many hearts change and grow in love and joy through knowing God personally.

 

Is the practice of yoga worship of an Eastern religion?

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Many things that were once pagan have been reclaimed by Christians.

 

Christmas was once a pagan holiday. Many think December 25th was chosen because ancient pagan Roman midwinter festivals took place at this time. Since people were already celebrating then it would be easier for the predominately pagan Romans to convert to Christianity.

 

Also, Easter originally celebrated the Assyrian fertility goddess (hence the eggs and the rabbits).

 

The Olympics were originally held in honor of the Olympian gods. Even the Emperor Theodosius called the games a “pagan cult.” Yet now many Christians not only compete in the Olympics, but watch and cheer.

To say that Christians cannot redeem a practice that began as something else not only ignores history, but is also a dismissal of the life changing power of Christ.

 

What does Scripture say?

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Of course the Bible doesn’t say, “yoga is good, or yoga is bad.” So how can we know from Scripture what God might think about this?

 

First Corinthians 8 is a passage that might shed some light on this subject. The Christians in Corinth were concerned about eating food that had been offered to idols. Back then food sold at the market often came from the pagan temples. Instead of FDA approved ground beef it was “BPA – Blessed by Apollo”. So the Christians were scared if they ate that brand of meat it would be considered idol worship.

 

Paul basically said, “Dude! God made the meat, not Apollo. So worship and give thanks to God and ask Him to bless it.” *This is very paraphrased.

 

How does this apply to yoga?

 

Yoga was originally used in eastern religions, but we can practice these postures without giving homage to those gods. For example we don’t worship the sun as a god when we do sun salutation. We believe Christ is the son of God and our savior. We worship him in all we do, whether in eating, work or exercise.

 

Sun salutation or SON salutation? We only salute Christ who backed up His claim of being one with the Father when he rose from the dead.

 

Is Yoga is Hinduism?

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The term “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit, which means “to unite” –to unite the body, mind and spirit. Sure, Yoga originated in Hinduism, and it is still used in some Hindu practices today.

 

However, things have changed in the last few thousand years. Most yoga currently practiced in America only slightly resembles the original practice. In fact, most of what we do in the West isn’t the same yoga at all—it is only asana, the physical postures, and pranayama, the breathing exercises. This statement sums it up: Hinduism involves yoga; all yoga is not Hinduism. Some yoga teachers do chant or use influences from eastern religions in their practice. As Believers in Christ we must always use discernment in whatever we do. 1 John 4:1 tells us not to believe in just anything, but test it to see if it of God or not.

Is Meditation a dangerous practice?

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Meditation is called for in Scripture— “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8). Many Christians have been convinced that the only way to meditate is to sit still, empty your mind or chant. This is opposite of what Christians are called to do. We meditate on the God’s Word and his love and presence. We can even meditate on gratitude. Meditation is focusing your attention completely on something. I often meditate by memorizing scripture, praying through it, and then mentally chew on it. Meditate, concentrate, and focus on the love and goodness of our Father God.

 

Paul wrote a bit about working out. In 1 Corinthians 9:27 said, “I discipline my body like an athlete in training…” In 1 Timothy 4:8 he says, “Physical training is good…” All exercise is God given. We can treat yoga the same way we would treat any other workout: either to get strong and limber or use it as a moving meditation focusing our efforts on the creator of the Universe. I like to think when I raise my arms up I am lifting them in praise to my heavenly Father. Either way we take back what God meant for good and use it for His glory.

Believe?

Lately I’ve been watching these awesome videos the Bible Project has been creating.

The thing that really hit me about the book of Genesis is that God just wants us to Believe.

Jesus echoes this sentiment again and again, but especially in the book of John. All the people were so stoked after Jesus fed 5000 of them fish and fresh baked bread they said, “Hey we want to do the works of God too!”

Jesus looked at them and said, “You want to do the works of God? Awesome! Here’s how… This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

I looked up all the times God asks us to Believe in scripture and believe me… its a lot.

Here’s a few choice scriptures:

Numbers 14:11“How long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst?

            2 Kings 17:14 “They did not listen, but stiffened their neck like their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord their God.”

  Isaiah 43:10 “But you are my witnesses, O Israel!” says the LORD. “You are my servant. You have been chosen to know me, believe in me, and understand that I alone am God. There is no other God–there never has been, and there never will be.

Acts 16:31 Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

SO WHAT? What does that mean to me today, right now. I mean really.

Do I believe God?

Do I really?

If I really believe God would I worry or be anxious?

Philippians 4:5, 6 says, “The Lord is near so don’t be anxious or worried about anything. Instead pray about everything with thanksgiving and then the peace of God that transcends understanding will cover your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.”

If I really believe God would I hold a grudge against someone?

Matthew 6:15 says, “But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Colossians 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

If I really believe God would I not share Christ’s love with my friend who doesn’t know God?

If I really believe God would I watch this movie, tv show…?

If I really believe God would I __________________?

Do I Believe God? How does my life reflect my belief? 

This is where is all starts and where it all will end.

It is how my whole life should be governed by if I truly believe God.

 

 

 

Show me by what you watch

What do you want to watch?

 

This is a question often asked in our family because we love watching movies together. However in these days so much on the screen is pretty vile. Its hard to find any new show that’s not filled with sex and violence.

 

Psalm 101:3 says:

I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not fasten its grip on me.

 

The NLT version says, “I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar.”

 

The other night I really wanted to watch something that someone had recommended. I was shocked by the violence and sex that accompanied the storyline, but I didn’t stop watching. I finished it.

But it didn’t stop there. The story and images haunted me through the week. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I had forgotten that the Spirit of God is in me.

Eph. 4:30 says, “Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit.”

I forgot that when God gives a command it is not only for my good, but it makes him grieve when I disobey.

I made God grieve.

How do I feel when I grieve? It hurts to have your heart broken.

Do I want to do this to God by my disobedience?

Break His heart?

As I am writing the song “Holy Spirit” is playing. The lyrics say, “Let us become more aware of your presence.”

Father God, I ask in Jesus name that you would fill me with the awareness that your Spirit is living in me. Let me become more aware of His presence. Help me say, ‘NO’ to watching vulgar, vile things instead let me seek and pursue the things that bring you joy instead of grief.

 

 

 

 

That person is a such a jerk!

Love — Do Good — Bless — Pray

 

When My kids were little, we listened to music cassette tapes (remember those).

GT and the Halo Express was one of our favorites. They were little stories about a couple of kids and their guardian angel (GT). The angel would sing scripture in the stories.

 I remember the songs and the scripture today even though my kids are now in their 20’s.

 The other day while riding my bike, I kept thinking about someone who hurt my feelings. I had tried to talk to them and explain, but they would not listen. Finally I had to give up and hold my peace, but my heart was still hurt.

 A GT song kept coming into my mind the lyrics thumping in my mind with the cadence of my pedaling. Love — Do Good — Bless — Pray

It was based on Luke 6:27, 28—“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

  1. Love – your enemies –this person is not my enemy at all. (Eph. 6:10-12)
  2.  Do good—They hurt me, but I should not retaliate. According to God’s Word, I must do good to them and not be ugly in return.
  3. Bless I need to speak blessing over them (good things) and not gossip  and tell people what mean-heads they are. (even though that’s what I really want to do)
  4. Pray Pray that the Lord would open their eyes (and mine too) to see their (and my own) faults. Pray they would know God and walk with him…

This isn’t easy, but I’m not making it up. 

If you have trouble with doing this take it up with Jesus, He’s the one who said it. 

So give it a try: Even if the other person doesn’t change, you will be changed. After all holding a grudge is like setting yourself on fire and hoping the other person dies of smoke inhalation. 

Love — Do Good — Bless — Pray

If you want to hear the song, you can listen to it on iTunes

If you have little kids and would like to order the music CD or mp3 you can check it out here: God’s Love.

 

Show Me Love

I don’t love him anymore.

What does that really mean?

Love is not a feeling.

Love is a choice.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is:  patient and kind.

Love is not:

jealous or boastful or proud or rude.

It does not :

Demand its own way.

It is not irritable,

and it keeps no record of being wronged. 

It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

Love never

Gives up

Never loses faith

Love is always hopeful!

Love endures through every circumstance.

 

The part of this verse that jumps out at me is where it says, “love keeps no record of being wronged.

 

I’m pretty good at recalling all the mean things people have done to me—all the stupid, mean things they’ve said.

 

How can I love like that?

 

The ONLY way is to let Christ’s Spirit love through me.

I must remember a couple of things this person is not my enemy. (Eph. 6:12) My fight is against Satan and his minions who want to sow discord. I’ve got to say, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Gal. 2:20

 

A dead person doesn’t get mad or upset. They are dead. If Gal. 2:20 is true then I no longer live, Christ lives in me. I am a new creation.

So Jesus since you live in me. You don’t keep a record of my sins. I refuse to keep a record of what this person has done. You never give up on me. So never give up on this person through me. I refuse to demand my own way. I’m dead. You are alive in me. I give up my “right” to be “right”.

 

Spirit of God be patient through me. Be kind through me.

How can I be kind to this person?

Show me Lord. Teach me to walk out my faith.

 

I’m going to Show my faith is real by allowing you to love this person through me just like you were standing here instead of me.

 

Show me!

What does it mean to walk by Faith?

As the Bible says in James 2:14-24, “You say you have faith? Show me.”

In the blog, “Show Me” I will take several scriptures and use the “show me” application to make God’s Word practical in everyday life. These will not be exhaustive. Whole books could be penned on each scenario, but this will hopefully spark your faith, make it real, practical and doable.

How to Start

Turn your eyes off your situation and fix them on God.
Phil 4:4 says, “The Lord is near, so don’t be anxious.”

Recognize who God is and know that He is near.
He is with you He will never leave you.
Worship, Praise Him first.

Next – ask His Spirit to fill and control you.

We can grit our teeth and “be kind” to mean people as Jesus told us in Matt. 5:44. But he gave us a better way. He gave us His Spirit to fill us. So as you apply scripture to your life, ask The Spirit of Christ to fill you and enable you to obey.

We need a clean heart.

You don’t want to drink a cool clean glass of water out of a cup that you poured old bacon grease in do you? First you must clean the cup, then fill it up with fresh water.

In the same way ask God to cleanse your heart from any forgiveness, anger, frustration, pride…_____________fill in the blank of whatever you must confess, then ask His Spirit to fill you and control you.

Spirit of God does not just want to help you. He wants to do it through you.

Imagine you are a glove and let Him fill you.

Give your mind over, let your thoughts become his thoughts.

So instead of thinking, “That person is an idiot.” Let God’s thoughts take over—“That person is made in the image of God and they are reacting out of hurt and anger. They need the love of Christ.

Let your hands be His hands: Help those in need. Reach out to the hurting.
Let your words be His words: Speak kindly to those who are mean.
The kindness of God leads people to repent. Be kind to those who are unkind instead of retaliating. (Romans 2:4)

This should be the beginning to every practical application of Scripture.
Praise first.
Ask Him to fill and control you.
Do it!