According to Mark Driscoll, pastor at Mars Hill Church, “If you sign up for a little yoga class, you’re signing up for a little demon class.” Driscoll came to this conclusion as part of a sermon series on paganism in February, but everything has hit the fan once again. I always knew there was something fishy about yoga, but I never equated it with demons. I just thought people looked weird doing it, and I would lose masculinity points if I ever tried it.
R. Albert Mohler Jr., the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, stated recently that the biggest danger of yoga is that is mixes Eastern religious practices with Christianity. I admit, it is a sticky situation when we try to mix religions. It simply creates a way for us to justify our actions without feeling the recourse of disobedience to a certain set of beliefs. Yoga stems off Hindu practices, but let’s be real – how many soccer moms, athletes, and health enthusiasts take yoga classes to jump up to a higher caste system?
If anything, the Hindus should be upset that we have turned their ancient practice into a mainstream business. When I think of yoga, I think of stretching, goofy poses, breathing exercises, and blue floor mats. From what I’ve heard, a lot of top athletes take yoga classes because it is a great way to stretch muscles and develop better core strength. Gyms have even created another yoga denomination – Hot Yoga. By combining hard-core yoga routines with high temperatures, the participants sweat more and burn more calories. In essence, they get more for their money by taking yoga to the next level.
The problem is not so much with the stretching and exercising. It’s more about the mind games that yoga plays on its victims. In his essay, Mohler writes, “Christians are not called to empty the mind or to see the human body as a means of connecting to and coming to know the divine. Believers are called to meditate upon the Word of God.” Ok, fine. Put the NIV Study Bible under your yoga mat.
Kidding, but seriously, I do some of my best thinking when I am running. When I get my mind bogged down with deep thoughts, I forget that I have been running for 4 miles, and I still have 5 miles remaining. Let’s face it – if you ask someone, “How’s life?” a common response may be, “Busy.” We are always on the go. When we’re not working, we still think about deadlines. When we’re working, we’re still worried about how hectic the evening will be with soccer practice, piano lessons, and watching NBC on Thursday nights.
Then comes Sunday, which is supposed to be a day of rest and rejuvenation. Wake up early, eat breakfast, get the kids ready, don’t be late, smile, find a good seat in the pew, sing, pray, take sermon notes, lunch with church friends, home by half time, yard work, dinner, church again. Even church makes us busy. If one hour of yoga every day allows a person to calm down, relax, and forget about how stressed they are the other 23 hours of the day, then more power to them. If a yoga class forces you to do something that contradicts your core beliefs as a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, or atheist, then it probably isn’t the best thing for you.
Have you ever thought about the effects yoga has on a person’s faith?