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. 

The Christmas Truce

It was December 24, 1914.  It has now been months since Europe was engulfed in the deadliest conflict in modern history to date.

Though the Germans had made a strong offensive into France, the French, Belgian, and British forces were able to halt them.  But they were not able to push the Germans out of France and a stalemate developed as both sides dug into the earth creating a large network of trenches.

As I read historical accounts of this stalemate I was shocked by the misery these soldiers were enduring under the fog of war.  Heavy rain water, mixed with blood and dirt in these trenches was as inescapable as the fear of death itself.

But something amazing happened on Christmas Eve 1914.  Under the deep darkness of war created by human depravity and demonic influence, the message of the Gospel broke through in a brief but memorable miracle of modern warfare.

In a well documented event, across many portions of the front lines fighting ceased as British and German soldiers came out of the trenches in the ‘no man’s land,’ congregated, sang carols and even exchanged food items.  This lasted several days to the dismay of upper levels of command.

The Christmas Truce was evidence that the message of the Gospel is embodied in the message of Christmas.  War, conflict, and hate cannot quench it.  It shines through as a beacon of hope.

Even though the world cannot achieve “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” mentioned by Paul in Philippians 4:7, the world longs for it.  Secular as well as pagan preach it without being able to attain it.  This peace is given to those who belong to God, those who have been renewed by the Holy Spirit, and those who have accepted the message of Christmas as truth:

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:14

A glimmer of hope on Christmas Eve, 1914 was brought on by remembering the birth of Jesus, and it stood out as an example how the message of the Gospel can bring peace into the world.  But unfortunately over 70 million were killed in the two World Wars because the hearts of men were darkened by the evil in them due to their unbelief and rejection of this Gospel.

But as Christians we rejoice because God “made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor 4:6) and the peace we received is not a just a temporary Christmas Truce, but the evidence of our eternal salvation.

Christ was born! Merry Christmas!

historical accounts:

http://www.1914-1918.net/truce.htm

http://www.history.com/topics/christmas-truce-of-1914

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_truce