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Thread: Yoga as a Spiritual Pursuit

  1. #1

    Post Yoga as a Spiritual Pursuit

    The physical activity of yoga is taught to be a means of physical exercise, for the strengthening and improving of flexibility of the muscles. However, the philosophy behind yoga is much more than physically improving oneself. It is an ancient practice derived from India, believed to be the path to spiritual growth and enlightenment.

    The question becomes, is it possible for a Christian to limit the physical aspects of yoga as simply a method of exercise, without incorporating the spirituality or philosophy behind it? Some think so while others do not. Yoga did originate from a blatantly anti-Christian philosophy. It teaches one to focus on oneself instead of on the one true God. It encourages its participants to seek the answers to life's difficult questions within their own conscience instead of in the Word of God. Like most New Age spiritual practices today, it makes the innerself "the god".

    The spiritual aspects of yoga is clearly a Eastern concept that is deeply religious and pantheistic in its origin. It is widely practiced and supported by New Age proponents. In review, the New Age movement as a whole, inspires a inward-focused generation of “spiritual people” willing to trade their soul for the grand deception. the New Age movement denies the reality of sin and total depravity, and believes that man is generally good and is divine. They teach that there is a god within us, and we are to harness that and develop it through meditation and other metaphysical techniques. They teach that the only thing people need is enlightenment regarding their divinity. They believe that through many reincarnations man is reunited with God. They believe in karma, which is a debt one owes because of his previous life. They also believe and teach the evolution of man as opposed to the Creation that is taught in the Bible. The movements spiritual practices includes conjured imagery, visualization, hypnosis, channeling, chanting of mantras, energy work, sorcery, divination, and other occult techniques, which are not only unbiblical and cursed, but are potentially dangerous.

    There is, of course, nothing wrong with exercise, good posture and meditation as we seek health and wholeness for our bodies, minds, emotions and spirits. However, the methods and activities used to attain these ends must, for the Christian, be acceptable to God, based on biblical principles and subject to the discernment and wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

    Yoga Practice Grows at Unprecedented Rate in America
    Published in the Christian Chronicle - By S. E. Ray - 04/22/07

    The Register-Guard reported that 35 million Americans will try yoga for the first time this year. Once confined to those interested in Eastern spirituality, yoga is catching on among fitness fanatics, aging baby boomers and other unlikely enthusiasts who claim the mind/body practice does everything from heal illness to tighten abs. Wal-MClick image for larger version. 

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ID:	61art's Web site exploits some 990 yoga products while Target exceeds 4,200. Hatha yoga exercises are taught as part of YMCA physical education programs, in health spas and given as physical exercise on TV programs. The majority of clubs now offer yoga classes. Yoga is also incorporated into institutional and liberal churches on the assumption that these techniques are nothing more than physical exercises which condition the mind and body.

    Many researchers point to early traces of Yoga in the archaic Rig Veda which is dated prior to 2000 B.C. and possibly as old as 5000 B.C. Yoga was spoken of by Hindu's Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita written in 300 B.C. as the sure way to Hindu heaven. Hindus are free to accept various manifestations of the divine as their chosen deity for worship, and those who prefer Shiva are called Shaivas. The divinities in Hinduism are identified as the Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva as each representing one of the three primary aspects of the Divine in Hinduism, known collectively as the Trimurti. In the Trimurti system, Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the maintainer, and Shiva is the destroyer. All three forces together interact to create the phenomenal universe for the Hindu.

    The etymology of the word “Yoga” comes from the Sanskrit term that means "to join" or "to unite." This definition reflects the underlying philosophy of yoga. Hindus claim that God is a vital energy source from which all reality emanates. People can be connected to this universal life force and are archetypes of it. According to Hindu teaching, the troubled human condition is caused by a lack of awareness of this vital link between humans and the cosmic consciousness. Yoga is a tool that Hindus pursue to rectify the need for unification.

    Ahimsa is the first obligation of a yogi and his Ayurvedic diet. "Ahimsa" is a Sanskrit term meaning non-violence. It is an important part of Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism, first appearing within the Hindu scriptures called the Upanishads. Ahimsa is one of the central tenets of Hinduism, which is applied to all living beings who are believed to be of the same essential quality or “atman.” The main schools of Hinduism do not differentiate between the soul found in a human body and that of an animal. The vegetarian diet is prominent within Hinduism based on the belief that animals are sacred. Most yoga texts will mention food on one level or another, clearly stating that a yogi must eschew the eating of flesh foods. Many college age adults are now avid vegetarians directly due to the explosion of these Eastern philosophies promoted by their fellow students.

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    Typical exercises, such as those found in Hatha yoga, are practiced under the scrutiny of a guru or yogi, a personal religious guide and spiritual teacher. Gurus guide students to combine a variety of breathing techniques and relaxation postures called “asanas.” In each of the postures, students must first enter the position, then maintain it for a certain length of time, and finally leave it. A guru might have students gaze at a single object, such as a candle, to develop and focus concentration. The guru might have them chant a mantra to clear their minds and become one with the object in front of them. The goal is to achieve increasingly higher meditative states until reaching oneness with the cosmic consciousness. This state of being is characterized by a blank stare in which the practitioner is receptive to hidden wisdom from the Universal Mind.

    The Seven Chakras
    Chakra 1: Muladhara Chakra - The Muladhara (root), is located at the base of the spine.
    Chakra 2: Svadhisthana Chakra - The Svadhisthana (sweetness), is located at the lower abdomen (between belly button and pelvic bone).
    Chakra 3: Manipura Chakra - The Manipura (lustrous gem), is located at the solar plexus (between belly button and bottom of rib cage).
    Chakra 4: Anahata Chakra - The Anahata (not struck), is located at the heart (center of the chest).
    Chakra 5: Vishuddha Chakra - The Vissudha (purification), is located at the throat.
    Chakra 6: Ajna Chakra - The Ajna (to perceive), is located between the eyebrows, just above the bridge of the nose.
    Chakra 7: Sahasrara Chakra - The Sahasrara (thousand petaled), is located at the crown (top) of the head.

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ID:	58The concept presented in Yoga is that the body contains a network of channels for divine and cosmic energy. Where these channels cross, they create pulse points of psychic and spiritual energy in the body known as chakras. There are said to be 88,000 chakras and 72,000 subtle channels of chi energy or vital force called “nadis.” Nadis correspond to the meridians of traditional Chinese medicine which teach that chi energy connects people with their environment. By releasing obstruction in this flow of chi the conditions of illness are treated and diverted. Of the 14 chakras and 3 nerve wirings, which are running interwoven around the spinal cord, there are 7 main centers. Chakras are said to function as pumps or valves, regulating the flow of energy through our energy system.

    The main purpose of yoga is to provide its practitioners a way to experience their oneness with the universal power by alignment of the chakras. As people practice yoga, a higher level of connection with the infinite Oneness will occur. In Hindu philosophy, it is taught that the ultimate reality is consciousness or energy (God-Brahman). As one becomes elevated, his view of the world will be radically changed as becoming enlightened to Ultimate Reality. Mystics who practice yoga report feelings of euphoria, peace, and universal oneness, as well as a renewal of energy and a greater appreciation for the earth’s beauty. They assert that universal life forces have given them intuitive bursts of insight and creativity.

    Debra Lardie in her "Concise Dictionary of the Occult and New Age" outlines several types of yoga that exist. "Jnana yoga refers both to the path of discrimination and wisdom, whereas bhakti yoga refers to the path of love and devotion to a personal god. Kama yoga refers to the path of selfless action, whereas hatha yoga, which is popular in the West, stresses physical postures or positions. Japa yoga requires the repetition of mantras, or sacred sounds, to enable a person to concentrate without being interrupted by external distractions. Kriya yoga enables devotees to channel cosmic energy to their souls in order to establish a harmonious union of the mind, body, and spirit, releasing innate miraculous powers. Kundalini yoga, also called Tantra, emphasizes opening psychic energy centers called chakras supposedly located up and down the spinal column. This is thought to animate the Kundalini, a cosmic force coiled at the base of the spine."

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ID:	59Kundalini (which is Sanskrit for “coiled up”) yoga is the worship of God as the Divine Mother. It focuses on the union of the male and female aspects of the individual, to awaken the coiled snake. Tantra's most important and unique characteristic is its use of sexual imagery to portray enlightenment. Its purpose is for the return to Oneness beyond duality of life. When Kundalini has been awakened, as a result of secret yogic techniques, she rises through the chakras of the psychic energy channel in the sushumn (the spine). The power slithers like a snake upward to connect with Shiva at the crown of the head. When god and goddess are said to unite in sexual embrace, enlightenment occurs, illusion vanishes, and there is only One. This rising Kundalini flow also causes one to go into an altered state of consciousness, as the heart chakra opens. This can be one of the most dangerous practices in yoga and is not to be underestimated in its ability to alter a person permanently.

    It is easy to dismiss yoga as mere breathing and relaxation exercises to develop, stretch, and strengthen the body's muscles, extend and align the spinal column, and enhance cardiovascular circulation. While yoga does first of all work on the muscular, glandular, and physical nervous systems, its real import, as author Alain Danielou who wrote "Yoga the Method of Reintegration" says, is as “a process of control of the gross body which aims at freeing the subtle body.” There is no yoga that is strictly aimed for the physical body; it is essentially spiritual because of its purpose. Asanas (the body postures) are one of the first methods of arousing the Kundalini. Yoga is used to escape from the deception of time and sense which is called Maya, an illusion. The goal is to reach Moksha, a Hindu Nirvanna. Yoga was developed foremost as an escape from endless reincarnations by working off their karma.

    The biggest argument for yoga is that the exercise alone is harmless. One can surmise that many people never seek the spiritual aspects of yoga, only enjoying the physical attributes. However, participation at any level is an open door which could lead to the spiritually occult aspects. Yoga originated from a school of thought in the Hindu religion, which suggests that postures can isolate the soul from the body and the mind. For example, few practitioners realize that while they assume certain yoga positions; they are adapting to worshipful poses to Hindu gods. Also, few realize the sequence of movements seek to communicate with the various Hindu gods. The positions and exercises of yoga is said to assist with unbinding the soul from Karma which said to keep us in the continual cycle of reincarnation.

    The physical positions of yoga and the associated disciplines are taught to open our sustaining life force to connect to the external energy of our planetary domain. The positions are designed to reach the state of Samadhi, or a state of union with self as God. Spiritually speaking, it is thought to open the inner god of self to have direct communion with the Universal god without. The problem with the pantheistic view that all outside energy is God is that all energy in our planetary domain is equally as unstable as our inner energy of self. When dabbling in the occult, the practitioner may receive more local malignant energy than any positive results. The spiritually seeking yogis can unwittingly open themselves to undesirable entities that seek to inhabit souls and the user may become spiritually oppressed.

    It has been said that every Yoga teacher is, in effect, a Hindu or Buddhist missionary, even though "he or she may wear a cross, insist that Jesus was a great Yogi, and protest that Yoga is not a religion, but science. This is the most blatant of lies. Yet it has been so widely proclaimed and believed that in America's public schools, beginning in kindergarten and in almost every other area of society today, Yoga and other forms of Hindu-Buddhist occultism are taught and accepted as science. In contrast, Christianity has been thrown out of the schools and is being crowded out of every other area of life in the 'broad-minded' move to replace faith in Christ with the New Age 'science'!" (Source: Peace, Prosperity, and the Coming Holocaust, p. 147.)

    Hans-Urich Rieker, in his book "The Yoga of Light," warns that misunderstanding the true nature of yoga can mean “death or insanity.” Also a little known fact is that virtually every major guru in India has issued warnings similar to these. Sir John Eccles, Nobel Prize Winner for his research on the brain, said the brain is “a machine that a ghost can operate.” In a normal state of consciousness one’s own spirit controls the neurons in their brain and operates their body. But in altered states attained by drugs, yoga, hypnosis, visualization, the connection between the spirit and the brain is loosened. That allows another spirit to interpose itself, to begin to control the neurons in the brain, and create an entire universe of illusion. This practice comes in many different forms, but could be quantified as sorcery.

    The monotheist God “Yahweh” is the only valid source for pure spiritual energy. God was very detailed regarding his position on any occult practices. The Israelites were told: “When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire [an ancient occult practice], or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination [detestable] to the LORD…” Deuteronomy 18:9-12. Anything connected to an occult practice is deemed forbidden for our own good!

    In both Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8, Paul talked about the Christian's freedom and has asserted, in a couple of slightly different contexts, the freedom of the Christian to eat meat or not eat meat offered to idols. We can use this as a framework to answer questions about yoga exercise and conclude that, once you have ruled out explicit prohibitions towards occultism, the Christian has the freedom to choose their participation based on their own inner witness in good conscience. However, Paul exhorted us to be careful that ur free choice is no at he expense of the weaker person’ conscience which would not be in the spirit of Christian love.

  2. #2
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    The Question Is: Why Yoga?

    Yes, yoga has some real physical benefits. So what. Lots of other exercises and therapeutic/recreation programs that have nothing to do with a Satanic false religion provide the same benefits or better. Consider this fact: virtually no one was going around practicing yoga 20 or 30 years ago, but everyone wants to now. Why? How were people with stress problems, arthritis, back problems, muscle injuries, etc. handling those problems then? If it wasn't necessary then, if our parents and grandparents got along with it then, why do we need it now? Simple: we don't. People want to try it because it is new, hip, and trendy. First the Hollywood celebrities get into it, and then the famous preachers like anti - Trinitarian T. D. Jakes and Rick Warren (who promotes a lot of New Age ideas) start saying its OK, and then church people want to start doing it. We really have to examine our hearts and ask ourselves what is it about us that would make us want to go after something like yoga in the first place. All things may be lawful to us, but they are not expedient. People really start need to acknowledging the facts that A) there is a war going on, B) eternal souls are at stake, and C) evil spirits are real and false religions deal in them. Now a lot of people hate Christian rock and rap music; but at least those are people whose purpose (for all we know) is to praise God. But this stuff has nothing to do with praising God and we know it. As for TD Jakes and others calling it "Christian yoga" and claiming that you can pray to God while doing it ... why? Was there something wrong with the way that you were praying yesterday? If so, yoga is not going to fix the problem! There really should be some sort of three - step test that a Christian should put himself through before taking on some new practice or doctrine. 1) Was I doing this yesterday, 2) if not why do I want to do it today, and 3) will this make me more pleasing to God and help me get closer to Him. I can say with a high degree of confidence that 90% of the time or more the answer to the last question in particular will be no, and if that be the case why mess around with it? Simple: to please and glorify yourself, and that is EXACTLY the purpose for yoga in the first place. Which means that you will be incorporating the spiritual aspects of yoga whether you know it or admit it or not!

  3. #3
    This is similar, but not exactly the same matter as Paul makes mention about eating meats to idols in 1 Corinthians 8 and 10. These passages are often the argument for participation in Eastern related activities, whose philosophies are grounded in idolatry. While food is simply food, activities related to the worship of foreign God's is conversely more malignant in nature. As Paul had to proceed in what would be considered simple matters, he wrote in 1 Corinthians 3 “And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.”

    Paul surmised case and point on this and other divisive matters, in the two above chapters. “Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. Let no one seek to fulfill himself, but the good of his brothers.” Chapter 8:4 could read (paraphrased) “So then, about exercising using methods known to be subject to other gods: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.”

    Weak here does not infer that someone who does not accept another view as a person who is less spiritual. Paul does not condemn the one that does not accept eating meats offered to idols as wrong. He knows that all have questionable preferences that others might find offensive, like drinking wine or participating in Christmas for example. The scripture might go on to read (paraphrased) “For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, practicing Yoga, won’t that person be emboldened to participate too? (Meaning, against their conscience unto sin) so this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge.” 1 Corinthians 8:11 goes on to state “When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I choose to do causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never do it again, so that I will not cause them to fall.”

    The Jerusalem Council settled the matter by urging Gentile converts to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols (Acts 15:29). This decision was made not to promote legalism but to keep peace within the church. Since eating meat offered to idols was a divisive issue—carrying the possibility of scandalizing fellow believers—abstinence was expedient. This would be true of participating in Eastern practices, however the love of self and “my rights” supersede the love of others in these times.

    Summation, it would be better never participate in anything offensive to another believer, than to cause a believer to sin against his conscience. This would include arguing in favor of something that is known as a conflict to another believer. The principle here is that the conscience of a weaker Christian is more important than individual freedom. Doing something “permitted” should never hinder the spiritual well-being of another brother or sister. The Christian glorifies God when he limits his freedom for the spiritual benefit of others. Love dictates that all Christians make allowances for their weaker brothers. Having the “right” to do something does not mean we are free to do it in every circumstance, regardless of its effects on others.
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