Yoga is a dangerous spiritual discipline
Yoga is hugely popular for its benefits to the body’s physical flexibility and strength. There is much debate about whether it is purely a fitness regime or not. Hence, it is worthy to note that Hindus lay claim to yoga and object to its marketing as being purely for health – or being adopted for “Christian yoga”.
Hindus say yoga is part of their religion
Hindu yoga practitioner and scholar, Rajiv Malhotra, came out to say that yoga and Christianity are fundamentally incompatible. “While yoga is not a “religion” in the sense that the Abrahamic religions are, it is a well-established spiritual path. Its physical postures are only the tip of an iceberg, beneath which is a distinct metaphysics with profound depth and breadth. Its spiritual benefits are undoubtedly available to anyone regardless of religion. However, the assumptions and consequences of yoga do run counter to much of Christianity as understood today. This is why, as a Hindu yoga practitioner and scholar, I agree with the Southern Baptist Seminary President, Albert Mohler, when he speaks of the incompatibility between Christianity and yoga, arguing that “the idea that the body is a vehicle for reaching consciousness with the divine” is fundamentally at odds with Christian teaching.”
A Hindu website explains why. “Yoga is an integral part of the Hindu religion. There is a saying: “There is no Yoga without Hinduism and no Hinduism without Yoga.” The country of origin of Yoga is undoubtedly India, where for many hundreds of years it has been a part of man’s activities directed towards higher spiritual achievements. The Yoga Philosophy is peculiar to the Hindus, and no trace of it is found in any other nation, ancient or modern.” (source: Hindu Wisdom)
Warnings for believers
Christians cannot hope to indulge in what is fundamentally a Hindu spiritual discipline without offending God. The Bible warns us against thinking, “How did these (Hindu) nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.”
Deuteronomy 12:30-31 ESV ... take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods…
A personal wake up call
Like many Christians, I personally practiced yoga for two years and brushed off those who warned me against it, because I desired improved flexibility and strength over anything else. When I was challenged to choose between yoga and God, I chose yoga. Over time, my heart hardened and my love for God grew cold.
Matthew 24:4,12 ESV And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray… And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.
As I share my research here, I am shaken by my past ignorance about yoga. I hope to bless you with this information.
Basic facts about yoga
The Wikipedia page called Hinduism in the West says that “Hinduism is attracting Western adherents through the affiliated practice of yoga. Yoga centers in the West—which generally advocate vegetarianism—attract young, well-educated Westerners who are drawn by yoga’s benefits for the physical and emotional health; there they are introduced to the Hindu philosophical system taught by most yoga teachers, known as Vedanta.” The Vedanta or Uttara Mīmāṃsā is one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy.
Yoga cannot be separated from the worship of Hindu gods and Hindu philosophy. And as we know, the Bible warns us that any teaching of philosophy is propagated by “elemental spirits of the world”.
Colossians 2:8 ESV See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
Here is what some third-party sources say about yoga and its core components.
“A Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practised for health and relaxation.” (source: Oxford Dictionary)”
A Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation.” (source: Merriam Webster Dictionary)
“In Sanskrit, the word yoga comes from the root yuj which means “to add”, “to join”, “to unite”, or “to attach” in its most common senses.” (source: Wikipedia)”In Hinduism, yoga is a form of puja, a means of meditating to connect with the Divine, and a way to develop the multi-faceted self (mind, body and spirit).” (source: Yogapedia)
“Any of several points of physical or spiritual energy in the human body according to yoga philosophy.” (source: Oxford Dictionary)”
Any of the points of spiritual power located along the body, usually given as six in number. The points are personified by gods and can be released through the proper exercises.” (source: Dictionary.com)
“An ancient Sanskrit greeting still in everyday use in India and especially on the trail in the Nepal Himalaya. Translated roughly, it means “I bow to the God within you”, or “The Spirit within me salutes the Spirit in you” – a knowing that we are all made from the same One Divine Consciousness”. (source: Urban Dictionary)
“The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra. The gesture is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another.” (source: Yoga Journal)
“The reason we use Namaste has a deeper spiritual significance as well. It recognizes the belief that the life force, the divinity, the Self, or the God in me is the same in all. Acknowledging this oneness and equality with the meeting of the palms, we honor the god in the person we meet.” (source: Thought Co.)
“A mystic syllable, considered the most sacred mantra in Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism. It appears at the beginning and end of most Sanskrit recitations, prayers, and texts.” (source: Oxford Dictionary)
“Om is the highest name for almighty God and by chanting it; we will remember Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesha. By this, we try to receive their blessings and start living in the present.” (source: Indian Express)
“Prana is a Sanskrit word that has a number of interpretations in English, including “life force,” “energy” and “vital principle.” The term is used in Hindu and yogic philosophy to refer to all the manifest energy in the universe, present in both living beings and inanimate objects. (source: Yogapedia)
“In Hindu philosophy including yoga, Indian medicine, and martial arts, prana (प्राण, prāṇa; the Sanskrit word for “life force” or “vital principle”) is all cosmic energy, permeating the Universe on all levels. Prana is often referred to as the “life force” or “life energy”.” (source: Wikipedia)
“Prana is not only the basic life-force, it is the original creative power. It is the master form of all energy working at every level of our being… Even kundalini shakti, the serpent power or inner energy which transforms our consciousness, develops from awakened prana.” (Yoga International)
“Kundalini” in sanskrit means “snake”. “
Latent female energy believed to lie coiled at the base of the spine.” It is “a system of meditation directed towards the release of kundalini energy.” (source: Oxford Dictionary)
A counterfeit source of well being
1. Biblical evidence
Every religion has its own spiritual disciplines. Muslims bow down prostrate in the direction of Mecca several times a day in prayer. Many Buddhists meditate. Hindus practice yoga etc.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we too have our spiritual disciplines of praising God, reading the Bible, prayer, fasting, memorising scripture etc. God’s Word promises that such spiritual disciplines bring us healing in our bodies.
Psalm 103:2-3 ESV Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
Proverbs 4:20-22 ESV My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.
2. Scientific evidence
Many alternative new age religious disciplines also promise their followers better health and well being. With its physical aspects, the spiritual disciplines in yoga certainly offer many desirable advantages. This has been proven by numerous research studies, as shown in an article that summarised the findings in Huffington Post. Yoga can:
- Improve cardiovascular health
- Curb chronic neck and low-back pain
- Sharpen the brain
- Control diabetes
- Stave off stress and anxiety
- Decrease depression
- Lower cancer risk
- Promote positive self-perception
3. Practical evidence
People report weight loss, pain relief and an overall sense of wellbeing through yoga, but too few talk about the spiritual dangers. Here is a testimony of the spiritual costs that come with yoga’s physical advantages, told by a certified ex-yoga instructor.
“I began doing yoga because it helped relieve my shoulder pain. Over time, I did yoga everyday and couldn’t stop talking about it. Yoga filled my life. I even controlled my breathing when I was doing my daily chores. After I started to follow Jesus Christ, I still couldn’t stop doing yoga for three to four hours a day. Strangely though, the more I tried to follow Christ, the more angry I got. My pride sky rocketed. I hated people and gossiped about them, especially about other yoga practitioners and teachers. Physically, my shoulder pain got better, but never went away. My body looked good when I first started yoga, but gradually I became bloated; not fat, just bloated. I ended up spending a lot of money on yoga and consulting doctors.
The stronghold of yoga on my life only started to come down after friends from church prayed for me, without me knowing. My heart slowly changed and I agreed to surrender yoga for good. Even then, I still could not concentrate when studying the Bible or experience the joy other believers talked about.
The real wake-up call came when I felt something evil physically leave my body as a pastor prayed for me on one occasion. I started to do my own research on yoga and realised that everything that I was told about yoga was a lie. So I decided to do a full renewal prayer, to repent of my sins and to cut ties with the yoga spirits I had bowed down to, my teachers, the places I practiced yoga and my yoga school. Through renewal prayer, I finally felt clean before God and could worship Him fully.”
It appears Christians cannot take up any kind of yoga with the hope of enjoying the physical aspects without paying the spiritual cost eventually. Here are two more stories of people who only tried yoga once or twice.
One story is of a missionary’s wife who needed to be delivered from the kundalini spirit after she tried yoga only two times while she pregnant. The lady was at a prayer meeting when the Holy Spirit revealed this to those praying in the group. Even though she was no expert in the yoga poses, the wife’s body began to posture on its own during the deliverance. In another example, a lady was praying to repent for trying aerial yoga a few times, but images of penises kept popping up in her mind. This had never happened to her before. Afterwards, she found out that certain types of yoga can awaken (ungodly) “sexual energies” in a person. It was this sex demon that was distracting her. In both cases, both women were loving and tenderly set free from yoga demons in the name of Jesus.
Breaking off the ungodly yoke to Hinduism
1. Repent for idol worship
Our Heavenly Father is a God of purity and loyalty. He is a one-people, one-God Supreme Power. His love for us is compassionate, constant and unwavering. At the same time, God does not tolerate it when we commit “spiritual adultery”.
Jeremiah 3:8 ESV I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery.
If we have ever done yoga, even just once, we need to repent for idolatry and bowing down to Hindu gods and Hindu philosophy. Many people have said, “yoga is just exercise”, “I pray to God while I do sun salutations” or “yoga is good for my body”. We need to repent of such statements too. We are to only worship and adore God alone.
Exodus 20:5 ESV You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,
Psalm 95:6 ESV Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
Anyone who has tried yoga has yoked themselves to demonic spirits on their own volition. (The word, yoga, means to “connect or yoke with”.) Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and we grieve God’s Spirit in us when we do yoga.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
2. Cut ties with related persons and places
People can unwittingly form ungodly associations with people and places that are sacrilegious and offensive to God. We need to ask God to forgive us and cleanse us from any incompatible yoking with unbelievers and cut spiritual ties with them. In addition, we should also cut off any connections with the spirits that they worship and the places where we have practiced yoga.
Ezekiel 37:23 NASB “They will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God.
2 Corinthians 6:14-15 ESV Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?
3. Break off covenant with Hindu spirits and cast them out
It only takes one session of yoga for our enemy to gain a foothold into our lives. Even if we have not experienced negative physical consequences from yoga yet, we can be sure that Satan will use whatever slip-up we make as an opportunity to oppress us.
People who have done yoga for years will often have difficulty sitting still and want to keep doing yoga. Apart from yoga, they may have shortness of breath, feel a tingling or “crawling” on their limbs, have strong mood swings, suffer from poor sleeping patterns and experience pain etc.
To be free, we need to break all covenants we have made with Hindu spirits, such as kundalini, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva or Devi and command them to leave us in Jesus’ name. Every one of the 84 classical yoga poses seek to honour some Hindu spirit, so it is helpful to name them. Here are some examples:
- Cobra … in Hindu tradition, the cobra and other snakes, are worshipped and celebrated as symbols of wealth, fertility or healing, and immortality. It is traditionally thought to awaken kundalini (the primal, sexual energy thought to be coiled like a sleeping serpent in the root chakra)
- Headstand … Headstand poses are some of the most spiritually beneficial postures. Kundalini utilizes headstand poses to awake and uncoiled the basilisk energy in the base of the spine, bringing it to the crown of the head.
- Monkey … associated with Hindu deity, Hanuman, the monkey symbolizes physical strength, perseverance and devotion.
- Pigeon … Associated with Rati, the goddess of lust and passion. Consort to the god of love, Kama, Rati embodies the carnal pleasures of sexual engagement.
- Star … honours goddess Tara, second of the ten great wisdom goddesses (dasa mahavidyas). In tantric traditions, she may be considered an incarnation of Durga, Parvati or Mahadevi.
- Sun salutation … The Salutation is used as a method to worship the Hindu sun god, Surya, who is the symbol of health and immortal life. The 12 unique postures of the Sun Salutation each have their own concept and the series is suggested to commemorate the sun and the sun god.
- Warrior … The multiple forms of Warrior pose are all derived from the ancient story of a warrior named Virabhadra, the son of Hindu god Shiva.
Sources: Livestrong, Cody (yoga training centre), Yogapedia
People with very strong oppression under such spirits may need the help of another brother or sister in Christ to support them in prayer as they do this.
4. Commit body and mind to Jesus Christ
We are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to our Heavenly Father, and should take this opportunity to invite God to cleanse our bodies, memories and souls from defilement. It is particularly important to renew our minds with regards to our views on yoga and share the truth with other believers gently and respectfully, through any opportunity that we get
Romans 12:1-2 ESV I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
1 Peter 3:15 ESV but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.
5. Turn to alternative activities for fitness and health
It is good to take care of our bodies and keep ourselves fit and healthy. Once we reject yoga, we can turn to other cardio and stretching exercises.
One can tell the difference between normal stretching exercises from yoga influenced activities. Purely stretching exercises will focus on the muscles and flexibility, there will be no mention on breathing, channelling, mindlessness, peace, connecting mind, body and soul. God reminds us that the times we live in are “evil” and we cannot afford to live foolishly and waste our time away.
Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
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