Earlier on, I was listening to a sermon by a Christian fundamentalist type on the subject of apostasy. As far as he was concerned, adherence to false teaching was rife in the church, including among Evangelicals, and it was something we (Christians) need to be aware off and counter else we could easily go astray and thereby compromise our testimony. One example he cited was the acceptability of the practice of yoga among some Evangelicals.
Checking online, I find Yoga has been defined as a “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” and one Christian response to yoga practice is: “We do not chant to Ganesha (a Hindu god). We do not have statues of Buddha, nor do we have Christian symbols displayed. I believe that none of these are necessary for a full, rich yoga practice. Yoga is not a part of my theological beliefs, but it has enriched my spiritual practices”.
Many years ago, when I became a full time community worker, I attended a conference where for the sake of balance and light relief one of the sessions turned out to be one on yoga. While I was aware of the spiritual roots and aspects of yoga, I did not at the time see any harm in taking part as I was pretty sure the emphasis was going to be on stretching and relaxation and spirituality would not come into it. One of the other attendees, also a Christian, but having in earlier life before her conversion practiced yoga, decided to sit out the session because of her past experience and present convictions.
Yoga, along with many other practices whose origins are in eastern, mystical religion, is something that I have come across many times since and being looked on favourably, but it has tended not to bother me as I was quite able to take a similar stand to that of my friend without making a song and dance out of it. Yet it is something that cannot be ignored if concerning members of the “flock”, which I as a “shepherd” I have a responsibility for, when I am faced with the challenge how to advise those who might take up yoga or anything else that have these new age type undertones, or if I am put in the position like that of one church minister of having to decide whether to allow my church premises to be used by a yoga class.
As a gospel preacher, I have a duty “to earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints”, without being sanctimonious or judgmental or ungracious or thinking I have all the answers or failing to prioritize the need to love my neighbor. It seems to me that part of the practice of yoga is to open oneself up to spiritual forces, and those that do not derive from God himself, including eastern mysticism or introspection, are harmful. I can not therefore support the practice of yoga and I am prepared to be ridiculed, including by other Christians, for saying so. Meditating on the Lord and doing stretching exercises are good but yoga is NOT.