A reader recently sent me a series of questions about yoga in regard to the practice of Holy Yoga, a popular form of “Christian yoga” and asked me to explain our position. Because the questions she raised are fairly typical, I thought our readers would benefit from these answers as well.
SM writes: “I have been researching Holy Yoga. I have a few quick questions about the stand you take….how do you answer the following?”
#1..If holy yoga is wrong because it originates from Hinduism, how do you explain Christmas and Easter?
This question is founded upon an erroneous notion that Christmas and Easter were founded in paganism. These arguments are constructs of the Protestant Reformation and other anti-Catholic movements that either have no real basis in historical fact, are distortions of those facts, or both.
For instance, some folks like to claim that because the first celebrations of Easter coincided with pagan celebrations, this means Easter comes from paganism. But that’s not true at all. Many events in the early Christian church occurred in accord with the Roman calendar which was in use at the time, but that doesn’t mean every Christian celebration that happened to fall on a pagan holiday was derived from paganism any more than you could say any roads or bridges or buildings built on a certain day were derived from paganism (or Christianity for that matter). In fact, as this blog explains, Christian holidays were often designed to replace the pagan holiday.
This article details the various inventors of the “Catholicism founded upon paganism” myth.
#2 Does God not look at the heart of a man? So when you are stretching or holding a pose if your intent is not on Hindu principals what then makes the stretch/ pose wrong?
Yes, God looks at the heart of man, and one must have intention in order to sin. Most yoga poses were designed as positions of worship to Hindu gods, but if you don’t intend to worship those gods, you’re not sinning.
However, if you understand how the occult functions, you’ll know that this doesn’t shield you from other harm, such as possible oppression from hostile spiritual entities. Let me explain.
We all know that pagan gods don’t exist; however, as any exorcist will tell you, demons lurk behind these names. So when you perform the Half Moon pose, which worships Ganesh, a demon may decide to answer. Maybe you aren’t intending to bow down to Ganesh, but what about the guy or gal next to you in class? Maybe they ARE bowing to Ganesh and in doing so, call down hostile spiritual entities who could care less who invited them. If you’re in the vicinity, and you’re not in a state of grace which protects you from their influence, you’re open game. This is why the bishop of Oklahoma City warned people not to attend last year’s black mass out of “curiosity” because, depending on their state of grace, they risk outright possession just by being in the room.
That’s something to consider before bowing down to these gods, whether you intend to or not.
#3 I personally stretch and did not know that a lot of the stretches come from a yoga practice but the stretch was very helpful in reducing my muscle spasms…does that make it wrong?
Again, yoga poses were never created to be stretches or exercises. They are integral to the practice of Hinduism and are meant to lead the practitioner to enlightenment and awareness of his or her inner divinity.
This means that instead of saying, “I’m just doing the exercises” when referring to yoga, it would be more accurate to say, “I’m using a Hindu spiritual practice as an exercise regime.”
That being said, as a former fitness instructor I can tell you that you don’t need yoga to stretch. In fact, some studies, such as the one outlined in this blog, have found that conventional stretching is just as good – if not better – than yoga.
#4 Many things that we do come from some sort of pagan ritual. Why is it wrong to take the benefits from those ideas and make it centered around Christ?
Again, this question is based on an erroneous assumption that Christianity comes from paganism. As for the rest of the question, it has now been made clear that yoga was never designed as exercise, but is part of the practice of Hinduism. This makes the practice of “Holy Yoga” or any kind of Christian yoga that attempts to Christianize the practice by slapping prayer over it to be in direct violation of the Lord’s admonition in Deuteronomy 12:31 that we are not to worship him the way the pagans do.
Personally, I see Christian yoga as even worse than the “I’m just doing the exercises” argument because by applying prayer, now you ARE recognizing the worship aspect of yoga and are trying to make it Christian – something that cannot be done in spite of all those fundamentalists out there who like to make the erroneous argument that we adopt other things from pagan practices so why not this?
As for Holy Yoga, Brooke Boone’s work has been widely criticized for its significant theological errors in regard to both Hinduism and Christianity so I wouldn’t consider her work to be authoritative on either. This blog will explain more:
#5 If the class was the same but named different. Would you support the idea behind Bringing God into your exercise?
I fully support the idea of bringing God into exercise and do so just about every day! I regularly do a variety of core workouts that have nothing to do with yoga, as well as weight lifting which remains the gold standard for improving muscle tone, increasing metabolism (for weight control) and bone health.
It’s one thing to “bring God into your exercises” but it’s quite another to bring God into the practice of a polytheistic religion which does not recognize the One True God that we worship and adore.