Yoga is not for Christians

If you are an average secular person, you probably never heard anything negative about yoga.

If you are a Christian, you probably heard more positive than negative things about yoga.

Let us be clear from the beginning.

The practice of yoga is grounded in idolatrous and demonic aspects of eastern religions, and Christians who are filled with the Holy Spirit should not partake in it.

As a physician anesthesiologist I regularly ask  patients about their level of physical activity in order to assess their cardiopulmonary status before surgery.  More than half of them claim they practice some form of Pilates exercise mixed with elements of yoga.  This led me to research yoga, and the results I came across were astonishing.

Not only is yoga tremendously popular, but there are many Christians who practice it and there is even “christian yoga” out there.

What is yoga? It literally means “union” or “to yoke” with the universe and the Hindu gods.

Yoga is a school of Hindu philosophy defined as “the stilling of the changing states of the mind.”  Mumbo-Jumbo that makes you smile… But in reality it addresses physical, mental and spiritual techniques geared toward attaining permanent peace.  In the western world we tend to associate yoga with stretching, body posture, breathing exercises and meditation, but these are grounded in a practice meant to unite the individual with the universe and ultimately with the Hindu supreme god.

The Bible strictly forbids Christians from engaging in elements of other religions, in this case Hinduism.  We are called to avoid pagan methods of attaining peace and tranquility, and instead undergo the new birth which will give us a completely new outlook on life:

“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.” Rom 12:2 ESV

Attaining a nirvana state of peacefulness via physical posturing and meditation should never be our goal.  By hiding ourselves in Christ we will attain the “peace that surpasses all understanding” which Paul talks about in Philippians 4:7.

What about the so-called benefits of deep breathing and stretching?

Instead of the physical aspects of yoga, I highly recommend traditional exercise like running, biking and swimming which raise the heart rate for sustained periods of time and have been definitively shown to increase the HDL (good cholesterol) and lower the LDL (bad cholesterol).

Incorporating yoga elements in your life will lead to spiritual downfall because of disobedience to God’s Word which is explicit about detesting other gods and worship related to them.

If you are a Christian, you belong to Jesus who paid the ultimate price for you, and therefore yoga and any practice associated with other religions is not for you. 

What to Do When You Are Faced With the Opposite of the Gospel

It was an early Saturday afternoon when we decided to take the kids for a walk and some lunch on beautiful Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach.

As we were walking we heard a strange chant and percussion-type music behind us.  It was  a procession of Krishna worshippers coming through.  In Hinduism and other eastern religions, Krishna is an avatar, or a physical representation of the supreme god Vishnu.

One of the members of this faith came over to me to invite my family to their family friendly temple.  Having studied the Bible and Christian apologetics more intensely in recent years I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to engage in theological discussion and see where these folks come from.

From the very beginning I told her that I worship the One and only Triune God as revealed in the Bible.

This led to a startling revelation.  The woman informed that she too is a Christian (Catholic) and that she worships Krishna and Christ… and that Krishna and Christ really come from the same “root word.” This of course is the opposite of truth.

She went on to explain how their supreme god is incarnated in different avatars, our Savior Jesus Christ being an example, and how they invite everyone to worship their personal avatar collectively with them.  Everything was about positivity and love, blah, blah, blah… Again the opposite of biblical truth.

Whenever a syncretic discussion of this sort ensues, I highly recommend to Christians to focus on one part of the Gospel: the depravity of man.  

I am referring to the fallen state of man, the evil that men do, the suffering and depravity that exists in the human race.  Expose their way of tackling this most central issue and how man can be redeemed.

She said she believes in the purity of the human soul (whatever that means) and that our mind is merely under influence.

Really?  If that is so, if the human soul is that pure, how is it that a Boston Marathon bomber or a Newtown shooter premeditated and carried out such evil acts out of his “pure” heart?  Why can’t one’s purity overcome such “influences?”

Of course she had no coherent answer, because the real answer lies in human hate and disobedience toward the Real God, our Creator. These people are blinded and they are not able to see their fallen nature.  If they stopped for two minutes to analyze the anger, the jealousy, the adultery, the greed that we all harbor in our hearts, they would realize that we are not pure at all.  They would realize we are in dire need of a perfect Savior.

There is no faith or religion on this planet that is able to resolve this depravity of man, other than the faith that claims that the perfect God Himself redeemed us via His Own sacrifice.

The most ironic thing is that the various avatars and incarnations of the gods of their religions suffer from the same shortcomings as humans: sexual desire and sin, jealousy, hate, war, etc. The very beings they worship are not perfect beings.

Be aware that they quickly turn the discussion to extremely abstract terms.  Instead of wrestling with real issues like why murder and adultery exist, they will go off on abstract tangents of dualism influence, mind over matter, meditation for purity, and such.

Instead of wasting precious time in discussing things in complex philosophical terms, be simple, and be direct.

Man was created in the image of God, but man fell due to disobedience and deserves eternal death.  In His Sovereignty and by grace, God made possible the redemption of man only by believing and obeying Christ, the perfect God-Man who redeemed us by His sacrifice.  Believers in Christ are saved from damnation and are made perfect again in the image of God upon their glorification.

That is the simple and direct gospel that non-Christian worshipers must hear.

How much more simple is this “foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1) compared to thousands and millions of gods and their stories and abstract explanations?

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