The May 20 edition of “Christianity Today” on line featured an interview with a woman who says she is an Evangelical and proud of it, however, she is a devotee of yoga. She says she breathes in Christ and out stress. Holy Spirit in, fear out. God the Father in, carbon dioxide out. She is so thankful someone pried open her Evangelical mind to the wonders of yoga. She states, “Give me five minutes of yoga and my mind immediately goes to the metaphor of God’s Spirit being omnipresent and as necessary as air.” She insists the Hindu gods will never make it to her yoga mat. She would be in the chorus singing that yoga doesn’t belong to Hinduism but to “world spirituality.” Frankly, that doesn’t sound any better.
A popular video called, “Outstretched in Worship” has fueled the yoga popularity among Christians, be they Mainline Protestants, Evangelicals, or Catholics. Just don’t throw the baby out with the bath water as proponents insist there are so many “benefits” of yoga. And now that it is “sanctified”, let’s have a brand of “Christian yoga.”
Daniel Akin, dean of the school of theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said Christians who are drawn to the physical benefits of yoga should avoid its spiritual and psychological underpinnings. “Yoga is rooted in Eastern mysticism and it is incompatible with Christianity,” he says.
Laurette Willis, a yoga veteran of 22 years and an Evangelical Christian, said the experience left her vulnerable to “psychic influences” she believes were demonic. “It opened the door to twenty years of involvement in the New Age movement.” Willis says that many yoga postures are based on ancient Hindu worship of the sun and moon as deities, and rejects the notion that they can be redeemed by putting a Christian spin on them. Willis concludes that yoga’s emphasis on cultivating divine energy within oneself conflicts with Christianity’s goal of finding salvation in Christ. Yoga means joining together. It’s the joining of the individual spirit with the universal spirit. Christians should be seeing red flags rather than exploring a trendy new “experience.”
The day has come when we need a “spiritual Better Business Bureau” to deal with fads, dangerous trends, and mysticism now entering the church. And while many are aware of the dangers, too often today church leaders are warmly receiving deceiving spirits. No matter what the supposed “health benefits” of yoga may be, it is not worth the risk to one’s spiritual health.
So what do you say to that friend who has embraced “Christian yoga?” You need to tell them that to believe that yoga complements all faiths and is harmless is to believe a lie and it is actually hazardous to your health. Hindu gods are responsible for enormous damage on a scale too vast to measure. With the death of discernment so prevalent in the 21st Century church, it could be welcomed into your church—and in the front door, not the back door. Remember that chasing after the “doctrine of demons” is one of the greatest “end-time” signs and the seduction of the East over the West is fueling it all.
(Jan Markell is founder/director of Olive Tree Ministries and a Contributing Editor to Omega Letter. To learn more about related issues, visit her Web site, http://www.olivetreeviews.org.)