To Yoga or not to Yoga … that’s the question.

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The other day i decided to finally do a gym class to mix up my exercise routine a little. So i checked the classes available, picked Body Balance, which is a ‘toning/strengthening/stretching class inspired by a mixture of different exercise techniques’. Wonderful! Off came the running shoes and there, on my little mat, i sat waiting. A lady dressed in tights and a loosely fitted top with the picture of ‘Ganesh’ on it (apparently) then walked in, and announced that the instructor who was supposed to do the class couldn’t make its, so she would be giving us a Yoga class.

Unsure of how i felt about Yoga (being a Christian and all) i contemplated leaving, but thought it would look rather rude… So i shrugged, and decided to give it a go.

Without going into detail, let me just say that it was … interesting, but also FLIPPIN hard work, and i LOVED it. I had a really good time once the workout started, and i particularly enjoyed the balancing aspect of the class, since it’s one thing we all largely neglect!
I walked out sweating like a little piggy, and even more confused about how i felt about it. So, the next day i did it again … and then could barely move. Let me tell you, it’s a great workout.

Since i enjoyed it so much, i decided to find out what it is about Yoga that makes Christians so … resistant. My argument was that i should be able to put my foot on my head if i wanted to! It’s my foot, and nobody should tell me that just because THEY believe i’m saluting some part of nature, i can’t do it. ‘What they believe about where i put my foot is not my problem’ I thought.

So after asking around, I spoke to one of the elders at our church, who chatted to me for a while about it, and then sent me the link to Mark Driscoll’s blog where he speaks about Christians and Yoga and all the rest of it. You can read the blog here:

http://pastormark.tv/2011/11/02/christian-yoga-its-a-stretch

Another good opinion to hear is that of Ravi Zacharias. Having grown up in India himself, he would know:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=ravi+zacharias%2C+yoga

These men are brilliant, and i truly value their opinion since i respect them both so much. So this is what i took out of it…

sacred
ˈseɪkrɪd/
adjective
  1. connected with God or a god or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration.

These men helped me to realise that Yoga is a sacred practise in the Hindu (among others) religion. Each pose is symbolic of what the person should be working on emotionally during the session and it is a time of introspection, the opening of chakras and concentration and meditation, where you receive spiritual enlightenment. Western society has adopted this as ‘just exercise’ and to do that, is actually disrespectful.
Now i think it’s hard for us to understand because we don’t believe that any physical acts bring you closer or further away from God, but as Mark Driscoll pointed out… it’s like someone coming to be baptised, but completely denying the resurrection of Christ.
Well now that doesn’t make any sense, does it?
Can you imagine someone of a different faith coming to get baptised just because he/she likes to swim? What would you tell that person? ‘Well then you’re more than welcome to go swim over there, we’re busy with some sacred stuff here ;)”

At the end of the day, it’s true that we can exercise any way we want, stretch any way we want, twist and turn and lean and move any way we want, in that way we are free in Christ, yes! But we have plenty of other options out there to help us do so (like Pilates for example, where you’ll find many of the same positions) we don’t have to participate in someone else’s sacred activity and use it purely for our own benefit.

This has been a great lesson for me! In every aspect of life I need to recognise the significance of people, cultures, religions and races and treat all with the respect that I, myself would want to receive!

Now i wonder if i can still stand on my head for ages, like i did when i was a kid???

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