“A warm welcome to Zingcreed, the totally independent blog that is preparing the way for the post-Christian era. Sometimes believers just leave me speechless. I can find it quite hard to articulate my feelings about some Christian comments without being rude. I know that that won’t get anyone anywhere. Excuse me if I don’t write very clearly on the yoga topic (halloween is in the pipeline) but I’m doing my best.
I first came across the idea that Christians should not practise yoga in the letters pages of an English Roman Catholic paper a couple of years back. It was either the Universe or the Catholic Herald. At that time I did not write Zingcreed or I would have dashed off a comment there and then. I was only reminded of this view when I came across it again in the magazine of the UK Evangelical Alliance earlier this year.
Their argument goes like this:
Hatha yoga and Christianity are incompatible because yoga is based on Hindu spiritual teachings. The exercises have been created to ‘open up chakras’. These 7 chakras are spiritual energy centres in the body. Through these the kundalini – the latent ‘serpent power’ coiled at the base of the spine – passes through a person as they move toward greater enlightenment. Each chakra is also linked with a certain Hindu deity. The ‘serpent power’ is from Satan. Some Hatha yoga postures are actually worship e.g the ‘Salute to the sun.’ By practising Hatha yoga it could be argued that one is penetrating a spiritual realm beyond the natural realm; a higher sphere that the bible teaches is dominated by powers subservient to the Prince of Darkness.
If the teacher of the class subscribes to the whole yogic philosophy there will be a subliminal transfer from the teacher to the student. Yoga is full of spiritual seduction and practitioners will connect with a power that is not from God as revealed through his word.
What I really want to know is why should any Christian want to believe the kundalini story? To an atheist like me it is an interesting Hindu cultural artefact, and if Hindus want to believe it that’s up to them. It’s none of my business what they believe. I’m not one of them so I don’t have to believe in it. My muscles and joints will benefit from the exercises whatever concepts do or do not flow through my brain. Yoga cannot be less beneficial because one is agnostic about the existence of chakras or Hindu deities. If you are a Christian and you believe in chakras etc, then you are making a rod for your own back, creating problems that we atheists never experience. Just stick to believing what the bible tells you.
Of course that is part of the problem for fundamentalists, whether Catholic or Protestant; they believe in Satan and demons and angels. So, in a sense they’ve brought it upon themselves.
I have experienced yoga on two occasions: I started going to classes when I lived in Trinidad. I was the only male in the room, and it soon dawned on me that the women present were all there to loose weight. Well, that didn’t bother me; it was when the yogi started to teach us to breath into the top third or bottom third of our lungs, that I realised his grasp of human anatomy and physiology was somewhat limited, and I lost confidence in him.
Later, when I taught at a girls’ school, one of the Hindu pupils started ‘salute to the sun’ sessions before classes each morning. She explained that it gently exercised every muscle in the body. Sounded good to me – I encouraged her and came to as many sessions as I could fit in.
Meanwhile, 50% of English evangelicals say Christians should never do yoga, and of the rest 23% wouldn’t try it themselves.
Their loss, I think.
“Should Christians do yoga?” by Paul Gosbee and Alexandra Davis in Idea magazine from the Evangelical Alliance (Jan/Feb 2016) p.20
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