In September, Albert Mohler wrote a post about Yoga and Christians. I read it and agreed with it but didn’t think much more about it. But it seems to have become a serious topic of debate and today I read an article about it from the Associated Press. Here is the link to Mohler’s post and a few quotes.
Some questions we ask today would simply baffle our ancestors. When Christians ask whether believers should practice yoga, they are asking a question that betrays the strangeness of our current cultural moment — a time in which yoga seems almost mainstream in America.
Then later he quotes from the book The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America by Stefanie Syman a proponent of yoga:
There certainly was no better proof that Americans had assimilated this spiritual discipline. We had turned a technique for God realization that had, at various points in time, enjoined its adherents to reduce their diet to rice, milk, and a few vegetables, fix their minds on a set of, to us, incomprehensible syllables, and self-administer daily enemas (without the benefit of equipment), to name just a few of its prerequisites, into an activity suitable for children. Though yoga has no coherent tradition in India, being preserved instead by thousands of gurus and hundreds of lineages, each of which makes a unique claim to authenticity, we had managed to turn it into a singular thing: a way to stay healthy and relaxed.
He then summarizes with:
The embrace of yoga is a symptom of our postmodern spiritual confusion, and, to our shame, this confusion reaches into the church. Stefanie Syman is telling us something important when she writes that yoga “has augured a truly post-Christian, spiritually polyglot country.” Christians who practice yoga are embracing, or at minimum flirting with, a spiritual practice that threatens to transform their own spiritual lives into a “post-Christian, spiritually polyglot” reality. Should any Christian willingly risk that?
The article today in the Associated Press:
A Southern Baptist leader who is calling for Christians to avoid yoga and its spiritual attachments is getting plenty of pushback from enthusiasts who defend the ancient practice.
Southern Baptist Seminary President Albert Mohler says the stretching and meditative discipline derived from Eastern religions is not a Christian pathway to God.
Mohler said he objects to “the idea that the body is a vehicle for reaching consciousness with the divine.”
“That’s just not Christianity,” Mohler told The Associated Press.
Mohler said feedback has come through e-mail and comments on blogs and other websites since he wrote an essay to address questions about yoga he has heard for years.
“I’m really surprised by the depth of the commitment to yoga found on the part of many who identify as Christians,” Mohler said.
It is funny how some can defend yoga as not being what it is. I remember when yoga was first becoming popular and most Christians then were not so swept up in the yoga craze and they understood the risk of spiritual “emptying”. We as believers should be filling our minds with Scripture and with Christ. I also never considered letting my children take Karate for similar reasons. What causes those who claim to be believers to play around the edges of other religions with little thought of the effect or the will of God?