Posted by: Diane | July 3, 2012

My First Yoga Class

My neighbour asked me if I wanted to join her for a free outdoor, community yoga class.

Until recently, yoga has never interested me. In terms of exercise, it’s way too static – I’d much rather hop on my bike  – but more importantly, without knowing much or ever doing any research, I have always had reservations about the philosophy behind yoga…I still do.  Yoga is an ancient spiritual discipline deeply rooted in the religion of Hinduism. Yoga and Christianity have very different concepts of God, man and man’s fundamental problem. So I was left with one question:

Is it wise for a Christian to go to a yoga class?

I have always been a Christian who asks a lot of questions. I want to understand what I believe AND why I believe it.  I need to wrestle with questions like, “what is cultural and what is biblical?” I delight in searching the scriptures myself and developing convictions based on what God says – not merely what other Christians tell me.

So, my husband found me a flat air mattress, (definitely not the right kind of mat for yoga!) I threw on a pair of old bike shorts and a wicking tank top and headed to my first yoga class.

Seven hours later, I’m sitting in my living room with VERY sore armpits – I haven’t stretched like that for a long time.  From the moment that the yoga instructor talked about ‘intention’, I chose to focus on Jesus.  I didn’t empty my mind.  I renewed my mind with scripture… when I was able to, that is – to be honest,I was so busy discovering muscles that I didn’t know I had and trying to balance myself so that I didn’t collapse on the grass in a tangled mess, that I missed most of what the instructor was saying and showing. All I know is that my Tree Pose was wobbly, my Plank position looked more like a wet noodle and my Warrior III pose definitely lost the battle.

.

After we finished the yoga class, my neighbour and I did a one hour power walk in our backyard lake and talked about life.

This afternoon, I’ve done some research, made a couple of phone calls and given some good thought to this question about Christians doing yoga.

One of the more disturbing quotes I read was the following – something my instructor didn’t mention:

These (the different poses) are postures that are offered to the 330 million Hindu gods. Yoga postures really are offerings to the gods. 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, she said.

http://www.cbn.com/health/fitness/bagby_yoga-alternative.aspx

This is a new experience to ponder and as usual, I have lots of questions.  Can I simply enjoy the physical benefits of yoga, without falling prey to the spiritual deception that is being taught? Are there alternative fitness classes out there that provide instruction in these worthwhile stretching exercises?  Is there such thing as “Christian Yoga” or is that an oxymoron?

In any 12 Step Program, members are free to define God however they imagine or understand Him yet “Celebrate Recovery” makes some adjustments to this very unbiblical idea of God and it has become evangelical Christianity’s most prominent and widely accepted church program used to deal with addictions. Isn’t this an example of “Christianizing” a program? Can we do this with yoga as well? Can we separate the exercise from the philosophy?

…something to think about…


Responses

  1. Had the same thoughts as you when I took a class – the stretching was good for this “older” body, but I was uncomfortable with the “talking” that went with it – being one with the universe, etc. Eventually decided that it’s a bit like eating food offered to gods – if you don’t know about it, the food can’t harm you. If you appear to go along with it, knowing it was offered to gods, then it’s wrong, if I’m reading Paul’s advice correctly. I finally decided I’d find some good stretching exercises and do them at home and skip the Namaste bit.

  2. Ya, my parents told me about Yoga’s history and warned me to not to get involved. I am glad you feel the same way. However, I rather please God than followinig this. I am sure there are thousands of diffrent ways of stretching without using Yoga. Also there are many other ways to keep healthy such as healthy eating, excerscing, praying, etc. We don’t need to follow the world.

  3. i adored my yoga classes at my methodist church at the lake! my instructor(s) were both women who loved the Lord, and went to conferences to be certified, and were wonderful teachers. i did it 3 times a week with so many 60 & 70 year old ladies who were in amazing shape. it was wonderful exercise, great for strength, flexibility and lowers stress levels!!!! i miss it~


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