Why a Christian ALTERNATIVE to Yoga?
CLICK ON LINKS BELOW TO SCROLL DOWN ARTICLE
- Yoga Defined & Personal Experiences
- The Dangers of Yoga (and what about Tai Chi?)
- Nine out of Ten Hindus agree: “Yoga is Hinduism”
- WHO is “The Lord of Yoga”?
- “Christian yoga” is an Oxymoron (no such thing)
- Yoga postures are offerings to Hindu gods?
- Where Yoga Leads (according to Hindus)
- “You make me SICK!” Well, thank you.
- “They are teaching YOGA in my child’s school.”
- Concerning Things offered to Idols…ouch.
- PraiseMoves is Born
- PraiseMoves Postures Look Like Yoga?
- The Real Foundation of PraiseMoves (it’s not exercise!)
- The True Meaning of Hatha Yoga – it’s NOT what you think
Why a Christian ALTERNATIVE to Yoga?
by Laurette Willis, Founder of PraiseMoves Fitness Ministry
As a child growing up on Long Island, I was quick to entertain, singing “Hello Dolly!” I was also quick to follow my mother into the practice of yoga. We both thought it was “only exercise.”
Yoga–and now there’s even so-called “Christian yoga.” It’s everywhere. In ads for everything from IT to ice cream, meditative supermodels sit cross-legged in the Hindu Lotus position, contemplating “nirvana.” There are yoga videos for pregnant mothers, senior citizens, toddlers and babies – even yoga for you and your dog! You can work out with yoga straps, blocks, bolsters and balls.
The well-dressed yoga practitioner can wear her loose-fitting yoga togs, carry her yoga mat in her matching yoga tote and dress her daughter in Sesame Street yoga pants (featuring Elmo!). Since yoga is everywhere, it must be okay. Or is it?
Those who think yoga is little more than a series of stress-relieving stretching exercises may be surprised to learn about true foundation of the multi-billion dollar yoga craze in North America.
According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, yoga (coming from an east Indian Sanskrit word which means “union with god” or “to yoke”) is “a mystic and ascetic Hindu discipline for achieving union with the supreme spirit through meditation, prescribed postures, controlled breathing, etc.”
Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines yoga this way: “Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation.”
Yoga in the Mainstream
Over the last several decades yoga has been embraced by the mainstream of society – and even the church. We find yoga classes offered at YWCAs, church fellowship halls, and even elementary schools.
There are an estimated 15-20 million people practicing yoga in the U.S., and estimates of 50,000 to 100,000 yoga instructors offering classes at 20,000+ locations.
As a child growing up on Long Island, I became involved with yoga at the age of seven when my mother and I began watching a daily yoga exercise program on television. For the next 22 years I was heavily involved with yoga, metaphysics and the New Age movement until I came to the end of myself and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ in 1987.
I call yoga “the missionary arm of Hinduism and the New Age movement.” We don’t often think of other religions having missionaries, but the philosophy and practice of yoga have been primary tools of Hindu “missionaries” to America since “Indian priest and mystic” Swami Vivekananda introduced yoga to the West at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.
Swami Vivekananda “Indian priest and mystic” who first introduced yoga to the West at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Called “Hinduism’s greatest modern missionary” by Swami Palani in Hinduism Today.
Interestingly, Swami Vivekananda is attributed with the idea of combining the theory of “evolution of the soul” with his teachings of Hinduism. Instead of working out one’s “karma” by becoming a grasshopper, ant or human in progressive lives, he taught an “evolution of the soul” whereby the individual continues in an evolutionary process to “manifest the god within.”
Apparently he understood that Americans wouldn’t buy into the traditional Hindu belief in reincarnation. Not many westerners could imagine they would ever come back as a lower form of life. A higher form of life perhaps, but certainly not a lower one. Have you noticed how many people – even Christians – believe in reincarnation? One can just keep coming back until they get it right. Sadly, this false teaching leads people away from the necessity for a Savior. And if we progressively get better with each life, why aren’t we all living in Blissville now?
Some consider this Hindu belief a theory to be embraced. Interestingly, definitions of “theory” in Webster’s include, “a speculative plan, conjecture or guess.” Do you remember when evolution used to be called the “theory of evolution?” It’s seldom called a “theory” any longer outside of Christian circles. Promote a theory long enough and it becomes the truth? “Not hardly,” as my country cousins would say. But I digress…
Yogananda cleverly chose to demonstrate that yoga was completely compatible with Christianity. Wearing a cross, he came to America in the 1920s with the Hindu religious text, the Bhagavad Gita, in one hand and the Bible in the other. He reasoned that yoga was the binding force that could connect all religions.
From experience I can say that yoga is a dangerous practice for the Christian and leads seekers away from God rather than to Him. You may say, “Well, I’m not doing any of the meditation stuff. I’m just following the exercises.” It is impossible, however, to separate the subtleties of yoga the technique from yoga the religion. I know because I taught and practiced hatha yoga for years. Hatha yoga is the most popular yoga style available on store-bought videos and in most gyms. For an eye-opening account of the background and meaning of “hatha yoga,” please see my notes at the bottom of this page.
Perhaps you have sensed uneasiness while doing yoga (what some call a “check in your spirit”), but you ignored that quiet nudge. I urge you to pay attention to it. Jesus Himself said, “…the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice” (John 10:4).
The yoga mudra (hand gesture or “gateway”) for Namaste (“I bow to the divine in you”), is a Hindu gesture that pre-dates Christianity. The Bible speaks of praying with uplifted hands or “hands spread up toward heaven” (1 Kings 8: 22 and 54; 1 Chronicles 6:13)
“Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice” Psalm 145:1
Your yoga teacher may bow to her class saying, “Namaste” (“I bow to the divine in you.”). Poses have names such as Savasana (the Corpse Pose) and Bhujangasana (the Cobra or Snake Pose). References are made to chakras or “power centers” in the body, such as the “third eye.” The relaxation and visualization session at the end of yoga classes is skillfully designed to “empty the mind” and can open one up to harmful spiritual influences.
As Christians, you are instructed to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2), not the emptying of your mind. Many believe that transformation process occurs as we meditate and feed on the Word of God – renewing our minds by filling them with God’s thoughts, not emptying them or filling them with the prideful thoughts of man.
For an enlightening article and brief video on what the Bible says meditation REALLY is — and the dangers inherent within “creative visualization,” “contemplative prayer” and even what some are calling “Christian meditation” — please see: http://praisemoves.com/2010/10/christian-meditation-what-is-it/
(and what about Tai Chi?)
It seems the enemy has a counterfeit for almost everything the Lord offers. (NOTE: When I use the phrase “the enemy” I am not referring to a person or group of people. Rather, “the enemy” refers to satan, the devil, the enemy of your soul. We love people. We hate sin and the author of it; the one Jesus calls “the thief” in John 10:10 and “a murderer” and “the father of lies” in John 8:44.)
While mind-numbing tranquility may feel good for a time, it’s a poor substitute for the “peace which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) and “the joy of the Lord (which) is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
Yoga’s breathing techniques (pranayama) may seem stress-relieving, yet they can be an open door to the psychic realm – inhaling and exhaling certain “energies” for the purpose of relaxation and cleansing.
What is Pranayama?
According to one yoga website: “Pranayama forms a vital step in the path to ascendancy (i.e. liberation, freedom or salvation) through Yoga. Pranayama is derived from 2 Sanskrit words – Prana (life force) and Ayama (control). Therefore, in its broadest description, Pranayama would mean the control of the flow of life force.”
In other words, pranayama involves manipulation of so-called life-force energy, and is part of the twisted “plan of salvation” through yoga.
In Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus, he refers to the enemy of our soul as “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). “Air” in this instance does not mean the oxygen we breathe. Rather, Paul is referring to what some call the “second heaven” or “psychic arena.”
The first heaven is the atmosphere we can see (planets, sun, moon and stars). The third heaven is where God dwells (2 Cor. 12:2). Hence, the “second heaven” is that realm in-between, an atmosphere wherein angelic and demonic forces dwell (Daniel 10:10-13). Dabbling in this arena as if it were a playground is certainly not what we as believers are called to do.
It can be quite dangerous manipulating “life force energy.” Those who do so are moving into the realm of psychism, magic, and witchcraft—where the “god of this world” as Paul called him has “blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Cor. 4:4).
[Be sure to read "The True Meaning of Yoga" at the end of this article by Yogacharya Vishwas Mandlik, Vice Chancellor of Yoga at Vidya Gurukul (Yoga University). He outlines the true meaning and purpose of Hatha Yoga, the form of yoga taught in most gyms, fitness centers and even churches.]
What About Tai Chi?
Whenever you see the words prana (Hinduism), chi (Chinese, Tai Chi), ki (Japanese, martial arts), or mana (Hawaiian Huna religion), they are all referring to the same thing. Like yoga, Tai Chi and traditional martial arts involve similar manipulation of life force energy, thus opening the door to deceptive spiritual influences.
PraiseMoves Scripture Sequences, where we flow from one PraiseMoves posture to another as we recite verses of Scripture, may be considered “The Christian Alternative to Tai Chi!”
Both chanting and the customary relaxation period at the end of a yoga session also have an agenda that may surprise the weekend yogi. Before becoming a Christian, I remember numerous instances of “traveling outside my body” during yoga relaxation periods. I wonder who – or what – checked in when I checked out? Whether you believe such phenomena can happen or not, some medical professionals claim such experiences have led to psychosis.
(Note: While Christians cannot be “possessed” since the Holy Spirit resides in your re-created human spirit, one may be “oppressed” by demonic influences.)
Again and again we hear or read, “Yoga is just exercise,” or “Yoga is a science. It is not religion.” But what do Hindus and true yogis say?
“Yoga is Hinduism,” said Professor Tiwari of the Hindu University of America. You may read the full article from the Sept. 5, 2005 issue at: “Stretching for Jesus” – TIME Magazine.
From the article in TIME:
“‘Christian yoga is an oxymoron,’ agrees Laurette Willis of Tahlequah, Okla. She says yoga led her to dabble in a rootless New Age lifestyle until she became a Christian in 1987. Willis now speaks to Christian groups against yoga, offering instead a series of poses called PraiseMoves.”
The same TIME magazine article describes the viewpoint of Pope Benedict XVI when he was Cardinal Ratzinger:
“Catholics face a more formidable skeptic. In 1989 the Vatican issued a document saying the practice of Eastern traditions like yoga ‘can degenerate into a cult of the body,’ warning Catholics against mistaking yoga’s ‘pleasing sensations’ for ‘spiritual well-being.’ It was signed by then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger–now Pope Benedict XVI. In a 2003 document the Vatican further distances itself from New Age practices, including yoga.”
Quoted in Hinduism Today
At left, Professor Subhas Tiwari of Hindu University of America. “The simple, immutable fact is that yoga originated from the Vedic or Hindu culture. Its techniques were not adopted by Hinduism, but originated from it… The effort to separate yoga from Hinduism must be challenged because it runs counter to the fundamental principles upon which yoga itself is premised…
“Efforts to separate yoga from its spiritual center reveal ignorance of the goal of yoga.“ (HinduismToday.com – 9/1-3/09).
A staff member of an east coast Classical Yoga Academy wrote to me, “Yes, all of yoga is Hinduism. Everyone should be aware of this fact.” This staff member went on to say she didn’t appreciate my “running down of the great Hindu/Yogic religion.”
Power Mass and Gentle Genuflecting?
“The ‘Soul’ purpose of the asanas (yoga poses) is to create a healthy body, calm mind and emotions in order to enter the spirit realms.
“It is for this Soul purpose that, of all the Hindu/Yogas, Hatha Yoga was supposed to be kept, relatively, secret. Sages realized that the immature would emphasize the body, thus, completely distorting the spiritual intent. Feeling good at the expense of others is not an ethical choice.
“Imagine treating Baptism and Communion as an Underwater Therapy and Wine Tasting business!” says Swami Param.
“Envision a Fitness Rabbi, Diet Pope and Gaming Imam! Picture Hot Baptism (at your local gym), Power Mass and Gentle Genuflecting! How about a 200 hour Certified Communion Teacher greeting students with Hallelujah and denying any Christian connection? How about marketing Baptism pants to display one’s physical accomplishments!
“As ridiculous as this seems, this is exactly how callous, absurd and insulting is the NAY (New Age Yoga) crusade.” Swami Param is president of the Classical Yoga Hindu Academy in Barnegat, N.J.
Yoga is “just exercise,” right?
Guess who is “The Lord of Yoga”? This Hindu idol (god/demon) is only 1 of the 330 million Hindu gods. Yoga postures are offerings to these gods. This “Lord of Yoga” is also known as “Shiva, The Destroyer” and “The god of Death.”
Who is Shiva?
While Hinduism recognizes 330 million gods, the trinity of chief Hindu gods includes Brahma (creator), Vishnu (preserver) and Shiva (destroyer).
According to Websters, Shiva is the Hindu god of destruction and rebirth.
Shiva is Lord of Yoga (Yogeshwara) – according to Bhagavad-Gita
And the first Hatha Yoga teacher – according to Hatha Yoga Pradipika
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (HYP) is a classic text for Hatha yoga (the type of yoga taught in fitness centers and many churches). According to this text, “The (real) Yogi becomes the creator and destroyer of the universe, like God.” Ch. 4.76, HYP
Yoga is motivated by a spirit that inspires self-deification — with a promise of reincarnation. That sounds familiar!!! “And the serpent said unto the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5).
People ask me, “Christian Yoga is okay, right?” Well, you tell me.
Listen to the description of this book about “Christian Yoga Metaphysics” and tell me if you can spot anything Christian about it:
“A. K. Mozumdar was the founder of the Christian Yoga Society and this book outlines much of its spiritual philosophy. East and West and brought together to allow those from both spiritual backgrounds to enhance their growth and to possibly experience an all-pervading Oneness in the universe. This is an important spiritual work that is capable of transforming an individual. From reading it, one may discover a unique path to follow and achieve spiritual peace of mind.”
“If man thinks and acts, is not the thinker and actor God? If God is all life, then all lives are God. The creative power is the very nature of the being of the Creator; hence the creative power is God. Life is the Creator, and will never be reduced to the level of its own creation. This knowledge sets a man free.”
No, A.K., knowledge of the truth that Jesus is the only Way, the Truth and the Life sets one free. I for one am SO grateful that Jesus, the King of Glory, lowered Himself and came to earth as a man, His own creation, that He could be the perfect sacrifice for mankind.
BUT WAIT A MINUTE!!!
Proponents of today’s “Christian yoga” are not followers of A.K. Mozumdar!
Most likely that’s true. However, consider the intent of Mozumdar calling his book, magazine and practice “Christian yoga.” He was named the “Father of Christian Yoga,” and the Founder of the “Christian Yoga Society.” And he was Hindu!
Why did famous yogi Paramhansa Yogananda come to the U.S. in the 1920s wearing a cross and saying that yoga was completely compatible with the Christian faith? How many gullible people were drawn away from Christ as a result and into Yogananda’s SELF-Realization Fellowship?
Take a look at the “Aims and Ideals” of the Self-Realization Fellowship:
- To disseminate among the nations a knowledge of definite scientific techniques for attaining direct personal experience of God.
- To teach that the purpose of life is the evolution, through self-effort, of man’s limited mortal consciousness into God Consciousness…
- To reveal the complete harmony and basic oneness of original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ and original Yoga as taught by Bhagavan Krishna…
A Possessed Evangelist?
Why did the apostle Paul finally tire of the bewitched woman who was proclaiming what many would say was the truth about them?
“Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, ‘These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.’ 18 And this she did for many days.
“But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And he came out that very hour. 19 But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities” (Acts 16:16-19).
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, would YOU want a devout Hindu, or a New Ager, or secular humanist, or a person possessed by a spirit of divination to teach and proclaim the Gospel to YOUR children?
God is NOT the Author of Confusion
“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints” (1 Corinthians 14:33).
Question: If God is not the author of confusion, who is?
Answer: The enemy of your soul, satan.
“Christian Yoga” versus PraiseMoves
A so-called “Christian yogi” and I shared our viewpoints on “Up for Debate.”
You can hear the debate and read two astounding testimonies from women who listened to the program HERE.
Even more deception with so-called “Christian Yoga.”
There are those who seek to validate their teaching yoga to Christians by placing words such as “Holy,” “Scripture,” “Atoning,” even the redemptive name of our God (Yahweh) before the word yoga.
Do not be deceived. Remember, so-called “Christian yoga” IS yoga.
I’m reminded of these words from Timothy:
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
“6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth“ (2 Timothy 3:1-7).
I was one of those gullible women! I was “always learning,” but I was never able to come to a knowledge of the truth–until I came to the end of myself and surrendered to the One whose name IS Truth.
What does that mean? You can find out more here: A Very Special Invitation
ChrIslam is supposedly Christianity mixed with the Moslem faith. Most Christians would agree that Christianity and Islam cannot be mixed. So, why are some so ready to believe one can mix Christianity with Hinduism?
ChrIslam = Islam, just as “Christian yoga” = yoga.
Christianity is a relationship, not a religion (although many have made a religion out of it). Relationship is God-made. Religion is man-made.
Note: I’ve been told the church sign photo at right is a fabrication. However, you can Google “Chrislam” and see where it is an emerging trend among those who seek to discredit the truth of God’s Word.
Read full article: “Meet the Founder of so-called ‘Christian Yoga’” HERE
Did you know that yoga poses are offerings to the 330 million Hindu gods?
Can you see a twisting of Romans 12:1 here (“present your bodies a living sacrifice”)?
George P. Alexander, Ph.D., who taught World Religions at Biola University, is a friend of our family. Born in Sri Lanka, George grew up in India, the birthplace of Hinduism and yoga. He told us that yoga poses are actually offerings to the 330 million Hindu gods.
“Many Westerners who practice yoga today are unaware that the physical positions assumed in yoga symbolize a spiritual act: worshiping one of the many Hindu gods,” Dr. Alexander said. “To a Hindu, yoga is the outward physical expression of a deep spiritual belief. You cannot separate one from the other.”
Since yoga is tied so strongly to Hinduism, can there be such a thing as “Christian yoga,” or would that be an oxymoron (a contradiction in terms)? Many practicing Hindus as well as Christians agree that since yoga IS Hinduism, the two cannot be combined.
One of our PraiseMoves Instructors spent three months on a missionary trip to India several years ago. She said her group often saw people performing yoga poses in front of statues of the gods in the streets! Some brought offerings of flowers, some fruit, some themselves…
Acts 15:29 tells us to “abstain from things offered to idols.”
In an article dated May 14, 2006, Darryl E. Owens of the Orlando Sentinel quoted Sannyasin Arumugaswami, managing editor of Hinduism Today. Arumugaswami said Hinduism is the soul of Yoga “based as it is on Hindu Scripture and developed by Hindu sages. Yoga opens up new and more refined states of mind, and to understand them one needs to believe in and understand the Hindu way of looking at God. … A Christian trying to adapt these practices will likely disrupt their own Christian beliefs.”
In an article entitled “An Open Letter to Evangelicals” from the January 1991 issue of Hinduism Today, Swami Sivasiva Palani writes:
“A small army of yoga missionaries – hatha, raja, siddha and kundalini – beautifully trained in the last 10 years, is about to set upon the western world. They may not call themselves Hindu, but Hindus know where yoga came from and where it goes.”
Swami Palani goes on to write:
“We hope this proves useful to you. I close with a quote from Swami Vivekananda, Hinduism’s greatest modern missionary, spoken in January of 1895, ‘What I now want is a band of fiery missionaries.’ It’s a hundred years late. But it appears he’s going to get his wish.”
In the West, the term “yogi” is used to refer to anyone who practices yoga. However, in the Bhagavad-Gita, the god Krishna says that the true yogi is one who has surrendered himself “fully unto me.”
Besides these historical evidences, I can clearly state from my own experiences and those of many I knew while in the New Age movement, yoga class was the door that led us into the New Age Movement.
New Age is a combination of a number of religions and has as its foundation pantheism (the doctrine that all forces, manifestations, etc. of the universe are God; also, the worship of all gods) and astrology (the belief that the positions of the sun, moon, stars and planets guide or affect human affairs, and can foretell the future).
According to Swami Vishnudevananda, one of yoga’s most influential leaders, hatha yoga “prescribes physical methods to begin … so that the student can manipulate the mind more easily as he advances, attaining communication with one’s higher self.”
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi taught that through meditation, not salvation through Jesus Christ, “a sinner comes out of the field of sin and becomes a virtuous man.” This is an example of the erroneous philosophy of “salvation by works.”
It seems the student is being manipulated as well. Yoga’s “least religious” form, hatha yoga, influences one’s spiritual life as unmistakably as any one of the dozens of other yoga techniques. Hatha yoga is actually seen as the stepping stone to raja yoga (the form said to involve “psycho-physical meditation techniques to attain an experience of the truth and ultimate liberation from the cycles of death and rebirth, or moksha”). Anyone want to join me in a collective, “Yikes!”?
Yoga claims physical and mental disciplines bring about union with God. According to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (once associated with the Beatles), meditation “brings us more ability for achieving something through right means, and very easily a sinner comes out of the field of sin and becomes a virtuous man.”
Oh, really? Sounds like salvation by works (instead of by grace) doesn’t it?
The Bible tells us: “For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet now God in His gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins… We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed His blood, sacrificing His life for us” Romans 3:23-25 NLT.
While most of the emails I receive are positive, there are a few which disagree with my viewpoints about yoga – some strongly (I was even credited with the remarkable ability of making someone “sick” once or twice!).
You may study or teach yoga (or so-called “Christian yoga”) and believe it is completely compatible with your Christian faith. Perhaps you feel your relationship with the Lord is unshakable, but I ask you to consider for a moment the young Christians and non-believers in your life. We all have people we influence by how we live our lives.
In light of the facts – the religious philosophy and history of yoga – take a look at Paul’s warning to believers in the Corinthian church about meat offered to idols, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being… If anyone says to you, ‘This was offered to idols,’ do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience’ sake…not your own, but that of the other… not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24; 28-29, 33).
Consider the Example You Set
To strong Christians (strong in their relationship with the Lord as well as the strong-willed, strong-minded ones) I say: Certainly, you may not be adversely affected by the subtle seeds of doubt and New Age thought planted in yoga classes.
You may even be going to a yoga class that is devoid of much of the New Age lingo and Hindu phraseology. And if not, perhaps you are able to see there is nothing inherently right or wrong with the “meat” or poses offered to idols (1 Corinthians 8: 4-8).
Perhaps you are oblivious to the visualizations and suggestions during the “meditation and relaxation” at the end of yoga class, the talk of chakras, auras, breathing in prana (the “life force” connecting us to the “Universal Life Force”) and getting in touch with our higher self to unite with “Universal Mind” (remember, I was a student and teacher of this stuff for 22 years).
However, would you agree there are people in your life you influence? Do you think there may be some unbelievers and new believers watching you?
Might someone young in the faith be watching you and saying to herself, “You know, she’s a strong Christian and loves Jesus. She does yoga at the YMCA (what does that ‘C’ stand for? Oh, yeah ‘Christian’). Seems there’s nothing wrong with it. But the Y is six miles from my house. I think I’ll take that yoga class being offered down the street at the Ramalama-Ding-Dong Ashram” (NOTE: Not its real name, but those who have been there know the place of which I speak.)
This young follower may not have your discernment. She may be like my mother and I were – weak and unskilled in the Word of God and open to the deceptions of the enemy. Do you think she could perhaps wind up in the New Age movement as I did?
Are we responsible for living our lives in such a way as to be a help or a hindrance to the cause of Christ? That’s a pretty tall order, isn’t it?
What’s wrong with this picture? A young lady, perhaps in her 30s exclaimed to me recently, “The ‘C’ in YMCA stands for ‘Christian’? I didn’t know that!!!” That should be a clarion call to the YMCA/YWCA. Perhaps the wrong message is being broadcast.
Should you be concerned? I would.
“But they’re not teaching any of the religious aspects of yoga, just the exercises.”
Okay. What are they calling it?
So, in future years when your child is visiting a bookstore and passes by the ‘metaphysical/Hindu/Buddhist/occult/what-have-you’ section and sees books on “yoga” (some of which are highly religious and occult in nature), he/she will equate it with the warm fuzzies received during those “harmless little yoga sessions” in Ms. Winkie’s 3rd grade class, and immediately buy the book.
Or, they may later go to college and live down the street from an Ashram, see the word “yoga” and get those wonderful warm fuzzies, sign up for classes and be on a whole ‘nother path quicker than you can sing, “Swami, how I love ya.”
(I was “blessed” by famed yogi Swami Satchidananda at the Ananda Ashram in upstate New York when I was ten years old–less than three years after we began yoga “just for exercise.”)
Many parents have written to me with their concerns about the various yoga curricula being offered around the U.S. and Canada. I’m sure parents in Europe, Australia and elsewhere are encountering similar challenges. When something is so widely accepted in mainstream society, those of us who sound the clarion call are seen as “fearful” and “extremists.”
If it were me, I would urge the principal to look into offering stretching exercises instead. That’s one of the reasons why I developed PowerMoves Kids (PMK). I was concerned about the prevalence and growing acceptance of yoga in schools.
“PMK” is being used in a number of public schools (as well as private and home schools). It’s completely non-religious — plus it has the added benefit of Character Education (and all Character Education points back to Truth, doesn’t it?).
“PMK” combines stretching with character-building quotes. It’s the first classroom program to combine Fitness with Character Education – please see: www.PowerMovesKids.com .
From personal experience, I know where the study of yoga can lead for children as well as adults.
If your children are at a Christian school (yes, believe-it-or-not, some Christian schools are teaching yoga) or home school, know that PraiseMoves for Children is also available (DVD, not curriculum–yet).
But ANY good stretching program is a better choice than yoga. Look around, there are several good DVDs available on just good, healthy stretches for children, athletes and adults.
See article “Parents May Sue Over Yoga in Schools” – in California public schools.
Keep in mind that yoga postures are “offerings to the 330 million Hindu gods,” and Acts 15:29 admonishes us to “abstain from things offered to idols.”
Quoting from 1 Corinthians 8:1, 9-13 – be forewarned this is hard to read:
“Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up (makes arrogant), but love edifies (builds up). But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”
So it is not out of a spirit of fear we avoid yoga, but could it be out of wisdom and love for others – perhaps those who are not as spiritually mature as we are? Can we do such things out of love for others? That’s too hard, isn’t it? What if I LIKE IT???!!!
Christian Schools and home schools may also use PraiseMoves for Children
Again, looking at the “ouch” from 1 Corinthians 10: 28-29 and 33:
“But if anyone says to you, ‘This was offered to idols,’ do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience’ sake…’Conscience,’ I say, not your own, but that of the other… not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”
So – it’s not all about ME after all. I win when I make the decision to come in third place: 1st – “Love the Lord your God with your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” 2nd – “and love your neighbor” 3rd – “as you love yourself” (Matthew 22: 37-39).
“What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything?Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?” (1 Corinthians 10:19-23).
Your Walk versus Your Witness
While practicing yoga may not seem to have an adverse effect on your Christian walk, it may be affecting your Christian witness. Of course not everyone who knows and trusts you will jump into yoga and find themselves engulfed in a New Age lifestyle for 22 years as I was, but some weak ones might – and be hopelessly lost as others have been. Would you agree that we are responsible for planting seeds of faith or doubt that can lead people to Christ or away from Him?
Planting Seeds of New Age Religion
I remember planting numerous seeds of New Age philosophy when I taught yoga classes – enough to make anyone without a firm foundation of Biblical knowledge doubt the veracity of God’s Word and fall prey to satan’s question to Eve, “Has God indeed said…?” (Genesis 3:1).
For example, I was convinced that there was no such thing as “sin.” All we had to do was “get in touch with god within and connect to Universal Mind.” One of my favorite New Age parrot-isms was, “Nothing is either good nor bad, but thinking makes it so” (quoting Shakespeare like it was Bible!). Another favorite: “All is good. All is God.” And the real kicker whenever something bad happened to someone, “Well, they obviously drew this to themselves on some level to learn something.” What insensitive nonsense!
“Sin” I reasoned “is an acronym for self-inflicted nonsense.” How clever. How humorous. How deadly – for if there is no such thing as sin, then there’s no need for a Savior. And if there’s no need for a Savior, then why did Jesus come? Oh, He was “just a good Teacher.” Then why didn’t I follow His teachings? In John 3:3 Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again (from above), he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
But Yoga is NOT Meat!
For those who would argue with the scriptures in 1 Corinthians 8 and 10 and say, “But yoga poses aren’t MEAT!” Okay. Here’s a scripture that’s even clearer. I believe the Lord drew me to this scripture when I was praying to understand the differences among yoga, so-called “Christian yoga” and PraiseMoves – Acts 15:29. The apostles were gathered together considering what rules should be placed on the Gentiles who were coming to Christ. Should they be circumcised, follow the dietary laws, etc.?
Led by James, Jesus’ half-brother, they wrote a letter that has since become known as the Jerusalem Decree. In it they wrote:
“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: That you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, From things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell (Shalom)” Acts 15: 28-29.
“But I have a lot invested in being a yoga instructor (or student)” you may say.
Sometimes the measure of our growth in the Lord equals the size of the sacrifices we make to follow Him.
If you’ve been feeling “stuck” spiritually, letting go of yoga may be the next step the Lord is asking you to take.
“Yoga is Like Meth”???
Some may remember the great controversy stirred up by Rev. Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Seminary when he wrote in October 2010 that Christians who practice yoga “must either deny the reality of what yoga represents or fail to see the contradictions between their Christian commitments and their embrace of yoga.”
I stood up for Rev. Mohler and shared in an interview my take on his comments.
“I agree,” says Laurette Willis, Director of PraiseMoves Fitness Ministry. “I admire Rev. Mohler for taking a stand, and we can see from comments he has received that many have been angered by someone standing up for the Truth.“Yoga is like a drug to some,” she says. “I noticed that Mohler said he was ‘really surprised by the depth of the commitment to yoga found on the part of many who identify as Christians.’
“Something amazing happened to a Fitness Center owner in Texas a few years ago,” Laurette continues. “She and her husband wanted to get rid of the yoga classes in their 4 facilities in order to have their instructors teach PraiseMoves instead. She told me that some of her members were so incensed that their yoga ‘drug’ was being taken away that it reminded her of people coming off Meth when she worked as a drug rehab counsellor!
“The Fitness Center owner told me, ‘We felt convicted by the Lord to get rid of the yoga classes since we’re followers of Jesus Christ. We decided to replace the yoga with stretching/toning classes until our trainers were certified in PraiseMoves. But a number of the members went ballistic! I asked them what they liked so much about the yoga – and they told me the stretching and toning! I told them we had that, but no! They said they HAD to have their yoga. It was like a DRUG!’
“Amazing,” says Laurette. “That’s why we call PraiseMoves ‘The Christian ALTERNATIVE to yoga.’ The foundation is the Word of God we meditate upon when doing these stretching and strengthening postures. Bible-Jesus-the Word is ALL THE DRUG WE NEED!!!”
PraiseMoves certainly isn’t for everyone, but stretching exercises are! Find a good book on stretching and flexibility. Look for videos that are purely about stretching the body – not the mind and spirit.
The believer’s walk is one of renewing the mind on the Word of God (Romans 12:2), as we do in PraiseMoves, not emptying it – a practice common in yogic meditation.
No, you don’t have to do PraiseMoves – but why not consider a stretching and flexibility class instead of yoga? If still unsure, please pray and ask the Lord about it.
“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God” 1 John 3:21.
The first Harvest House-published PraiseMoves DVD (2006).
In February 2001 I began praying about an idea I believe the Lord gave me for a Christian alternative to yoga, PraiseMoves. I’m careful to tell people it’s not “Christian yoga,” which I believe is an oxymoron (a contradiction of terms). What would you say about the woman who says she’s a “Christian Buddhist?” Wouldn’t you think she’s bit confused?
“Christian yoga” is an example of syncretism (an attempt to blend conflicting beliefs, religions or philosophies). Actually, PraiseMoves is a Christ-centered alternative to the practice of yoga.
When I told my husband Paul (also a former New Ager) about the idea, I asked him what he thought of the name PraiseMoves. His first words were, “Well, praise moves God.” That’s it! I thought. Here’s exercise we can do which is good for the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (our body), which also renews our mind on the Word of God, refreshes us spiritually, and moves us to praise our Beloved Lord! Praise moves us closer to Him, too!
Over the next two years, I prayed, studied and developed the PraiseMoves® technique. Our foundation scripture is 1 Corinthians 6:20, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” People who have been looking for a safe alternative to yoga have told me PraiseMoves is answered prayer. I also believe it can be a “witty invention” to win the lost.
Intermediate/Advanced PraiseMoves Posture: The Altar This is its accompanying scripture we meditate upon or say aloud while doing The Altar: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1
PraiseMoves postures are integrated with corresponding Bible scriptures. For example, during a posture named “The Altar” (at left), we consider the scripture from Romans 12:1: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”
Dr. Steven J. Scafidi, a chiropractor in New Jersey writes:
“I have been experiencing terrific results using PraiseMoves and have been recommending it to my patients. I am thankful to Laurette for a program that combines Christ-centered worship with the physical benefits often attributed to yoga.” (read more Testimonies)
There are several PraiseMoves DVDs, and we are blessed to train people interested in becoming Certified PraiseMoves Instructors, starting their own Fitness Ministry to bring this Christian alternative to churches, gyms, health clubs and recreation centers across the U.S., Canada, in Europe, South Africa and Australia.
Holly Robaina, in article entitled “Take a Pass on Yoga” on ChristianityToday.com does a marvelous job explaining the dangers of yoga, so-called “Christian yoga” and how PraiseMoves is definitely different. Read it here.
Other links available with good info about yoga:
- The Truth About Yoga – originally in Today’s Christian Woman
- Probe Ministries recommends PraiseMoves as the Christian Alternative to yoga
- “LifeWay’s Fitness Expert Promotes Yoga – New Age Movement continues to Haunt Southern Baptist Convention” – by Bud Press, Director, Christian Research Service
- And more articles including those about so-called “Christian yoga” at:
- Christian Research Services
- MacGregor Ministries
“But wait a second, these postures sure look a lot like yoga poses.”
Intermediate/Advanced PraiseMoves Posture: Lamed (one of the PraiseMoves Alphabetics postures based on the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, below). In Hebrew, Lamed means the Tongue.
This is its accompanying scripture we meditate upon or say aloud while doing the Lamed posture:“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit,” Proverbs 18:21
I’ve discovered there’s not an infinite number of ways the human body can move. Some of the PraiseMoves postures resemble yoga poses while others do not. For example, the 22 PraiseMoves Alphabetics postures are based on the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet (such as Lamed, at right).
If I may be so bold, I consider PraiseMoves to be a redemptive work of the Lord. Realizing that “redeem” means to “buy back” or to “restore” something to the way it had once been, I like to think that moving our bodies to glorify God may not be such a new idea.
Two thousand years ago Paul wrote that “your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit” and that we are to “glorify God in our body and in our spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). King David “danced before the Lord with all his might” (2 Samuel 6:14) around 2800 years ago. After the Exodus from Egypt and crossing the Red Sea on dry ground Moses’ sister Miriam and the women danced and sang a song of victory to celebrate God’s triumph over their enemies about 3500 years ago (Exodus 15:20).
Critics tell me yoga is a “science” that goes back at least 5,000 years. If that is true, then I KNOW glorifying the God of the Bible in body, soul and spirit must go back further than that.
How can I possibly know that in light of the fact there doesn’t appear to be any references earlier than Exodus 15:20? Because I know that satan is not a creator. He is not capable of creating anything. God is the Creator (John 1:3 says of Jesus, “the Word made flesh” that “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” and “For by Him all things were created…visible and invisible… All things were created through Him and for Him” Colossians 1:16).
The enemy can only twist what God has already created to serve his own wicked purposes. In fact, the word wicked means “twisted,” like the wick on a candle or wicker furniture.
Here’s an example: Imagine a piano was taken from a “honky-tonk” that was consumed by fire. Nothing is left of the place but ashes and rubble. The establishment was one that was clearly dedicated to carnality and sin, as well as “filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness,” as the James 1:21 in the King James Bible would call it.
The piano is the one thing that survived the blaze. Is it possible to “redeem” (to buy back, to bring out of darkness) this piano once used to glorify the enemy? Can we clean it up and use it in a church? Is that possible? Or should we destroy it? Is it beyond being used to bring glory to God?
Can we redeem the actual notes of the music scale once used in songs that worship everything but the Lord God — and use these SAME NOTES to offer praise and worship choruses to our Creator? Yes, indeed! Glory to God!!
Destroy all music because of ungodly music?
Are we to throw all music out the window because of the ungodly music in the world? Or can we redeem the notes on the music scale, the instruments, and the singers to offer worshipful praises to God? Of course we can!
Since “wicked” actually means “twisted” (like the wick on a candle I mentioned earlier), I like to think of PraiseMoves as a way to “untwist” beneficial stretching and strengthening exercises back to glorify God.
I’ll admit there are certain poses and gestures we will NOT do in PraiseMoves because of their appearance and close association with other religions. For example, did you know that the so-called “Praying Hands” gesture (putting one’s palms together with fingers pointing upward) is a mudra (Hindu prayer gesture) which pre-dates Christianity?
Yes, even though we love the paintings of the little children with their hands in that position while kneeling beside their beds saying, “Now I lay me down to sleep…” It is still too closely linked with the Hindu “Namaste” greeting (“I bow to the ‘divine’ within you”) and other Eastern religious practices, so we will not use it in PraiseMoves.
Besides, the Bible speaks of praising the Lord with uplifted hands, not palms pressed together: “Thus will I bless Thee while I live; I will lift up my hands in Thy name” (Ps. 63:4); “Lift up our hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord” (Ps. 134:2); and “…and the lifting up of my hands as the evening offering” (Ps. 141:2).
At right is The Standing Cross posture with its accompanying scripture, “For the message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing; but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Having spent 22 years in yoga, metaphysics and the “New Age” movement, I am like Christianity Today writer Holly Robaina in the “Take a Pass on Yoga” article (link above). I have a “big nose” for anything even slightly metaphysical or leaning toward “mystical Christianity.” Just like a recovered alcoholic or former smoker can smell alcohol on someone’s breath or can tell if there’s been smoking in the non-smoking hotel room, former New Agers like Holly and I are super-sensitive to anything even vaguely “New Age-y.” And yes, as a recovered alcoholic and former smoker myself (by the amazing grace of God), I’m super-sensitive to those smells, too.
Radical Thought Alert: The Postures are NOT PraiseMoves’ Foundation
What?! Isn’t this all about the stretching postures? No. The foundation of PraiseMoves is neither exercise nor the stretching postures.
The FOUNDATION of PraiseMoves is the Word of God which we speak aloud or meditate upon while doing the PraiseMoves postures.
The healthful stretching postures are merely a “witty invention” to get us more into the Word of God – and to get more of the Word of God into us!
If the truth be known, the stretching poses are not the foundation of yoga either (as you see from its history detailed above).
“But yoga poses are beneficial!” I hear some say. “My doctor/chiropractor/physical therapist told me to start doing yoga and now my shoulder/arthritis/fibromyalgia is better.” Well, certainly. There is evidence that yoga poses are quite helpful for physical ailments. They can even be stress-relieving (although yoga cannot bring true peace-only God through a relationship with Jesus Christ can do that).
True, one could hardly imagine something entirely unfruitful to be much of a trap for anyone. Without physical benefits, I doubt people in the Western hemisphere would ever practice yoga. I don’t argue with its physical benefits. If every time someone did yoga they said, “You know, I would rather have hit myself on the head with a brick,” we wouldn’t even be discussing yoga—few would do it!
May I throw a wild analogy at you? If one wanted to poison an animal, they wouldn’t plop a glob of poison on a plate and yell, “Here, boy!” A more likely scenario would be to put the poison in the middle of a nice hunk of juicy meat or some other food they’d enjoy. “Hmmm. Looks good,” thinks the animal. “Smells good. Sure gonna taste good.” Yep, it sure tastes good. Ah, but at what price?
Did you know that 98% of rat poison is corn? Only 2% is the arsenic that poisons the rat. Sorry. I told you it was a wild analogy.
Interested in More Information? Please see: Compelling Evidence by a former yogi, TM’er and student of “The Maharishi.”
And one more…
– it’s NOT what you think
by Yogacharya Vishwas Mandlik, Vice Chancellor of Yoga at Vidya Gurukul (Yoga University)
“The term Hatha Yoga has been commonly used to describe the practice of asana (poses). The syllable ‘ha’ denotes the pranic (vital) force governing the physical body and ‘tha’ denotes the chitta (mental) force thus making Hatha Yoga a catalyst to an awakening of the two energies that govern our lives. More correctly the techniques described in Hatha Yoga harmonize and purify the body systems and focus the mind in preparation for more advanced chakra and kundalini practices.
“Let us see the meaning of word Hatha, it is made up of Ha + Tha. “Ha” means Ida nadi, (moon principle) or left nostril and “tha” means Pingala Nadi (sun principle) or right nostril. Nadi means psychic passage of energy which can be compared with nerves in physical body. Hatha means balance of Ida and Pingala Nadis, or balancing of mental energy of Ida and Vital energy of Pingala Nadi. Ida Nadi can be compared with Parasympathetic Nervous system and Pingala nadi can be compared with Sympathetic Nervous System. So Hatha Yoga practices results in balancing the entire nervous system. The basic purpose of Hatha Yoga is to purify the Ida and Pingala Nadis and then uniting these 2 forces with the third Psychic Nadi Sushumna, which carries Kundalini at Ajna Chakra (eyebrow center).”
“It’s just exercise…right?” Or is it?
For more, please see “Yoga is Religion” by L. G. Marshall, former yogi
and the blog post “Meet the HINDU Father of ‘Christian Yoga’”