Yoga and Christianity Essay Sample
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The author of “Yes to Yoga”, Agnieszka Tennant, seems to argue that yoga can easily be stripped of its Hindu implications. He says that even though it was originally Hindu, he is entirely invulnerable of being contaminated by any god or goddess apart from Christ. He was wise to implement the scenarios in which yoga is exercised today: inside secular American gyms. Not only did he powerfully demonstrate that all
that all forms of Hinduism are nearly extinct from the yoga which is commonly practised, he went as far as to say that any Hindu gods or beliefs should be of no concern to a Christian. By comparing yoga to spiritual meat which he puts into his body, he was able to apply several verses from the book of Corinthians to support his argument that simply because yoga was originally Hindu, we are not under any obligation to abstain from it or “not put it in our mouths”. In summary, he defended his position that he would never be snatched away from a God as great as God the Father, especially by non-existent entities.
Worship, according to him, is a conscious state of mind, and he would never hand his mind over to anyone except the God of the Bible. In short, he made a powerful stand saying that yoga should be a perfectly fine practice for any Christian to engage in, especially since he believed it brought him closer to God, the same way Hindus used it to bring them closer to their gods. However, his argument tends to be very subjective, lacking a universal point of view. In the article “The Subtle Body – Should Christians Practice Yoga?”, Dr. A. Mohler takes a very dogmatic stand against the idea of a Christian engaging in yoga. However, the majority of the article seems to focus on how Americans (and Christians) have gradually come to accept yoga and are beginning to believe that it can easily be stripped of its Hindu implications. He continuously contrasts today’s society to older societies where yoga was a “heathen” practice and totally out of the question. However, he does not really get to why yoga is wrong for Christians to practice until much later.
In the closing few paragraphs, Mohler manages to assemble one very strong argument. Yoga, by definition, is meant to increase one’s level of consciousness and connect them to the divine. This is not appropriate for a Christian who is supposed to rely on Christ for everything in life and meditate on His word alone if they need guidance. He acknowledges that Christians simply cannot deny the fundamental contradictions that their faith has with the concept of yoga. He closes by demonstrating that yoga’s physical aspect simply cannot be separated from the spiritual one. Overall, he seemed to be making a pointless argument at the beginning. But near the end he did manage to establish a very strong stand that most would have to agree with. Rheana Murray’s article “Hindus want to take yoga” stands against the idea that Christians (or any other non-Hindu group) should practice yoga.
Because the stand is taken by Hindus themselves, they make a powerful argument. They give many real-life examples to prove that Western societies are desperately trying to rip all Indian roots out of yoga and adapt it to fit their own beliefs. It was a fact that almost no one could deny, that yoga was hardly even seen as Hindu by anyone who practices it because it had been modified in so many ways. Interestingly, a Hindu organization was launched in an effort to rejuvenate yoga to its original roots. They made several arguments to persuade the reader that yoga is a spiritual practice in itself. However, they have nothing wrong with Christians practising yoga, but they claim that it is simply not compatible with Christian doctrines (monotheism, exclusivism etc.). Overall, they presented a non-biased point-of-view demonstrating that it is not appropriate for Christians to practice yoga.
My personal opinion is that it is alright for a Christian to practice yoga as long as they can truly strip it of all spiritual relations. However, this is probably next to impossible for most people because of how inter-related the two aspects of yoga are. Tennant powerfully demonstrated using the scripture in 1 Corinthians 8 that there is actually no harm in practising yoga as long as their is not worship of other gods involved. And Paul seems to agree with him, assuming a parallel can be drawn between yoga and food sacrified to false gods. Paul states that there is nothing wrong with eating meat sacrificed to other other gods because food does not actually bring us closer to God. It is wrong, however, if one with a weak mind interprets it as an act of worship to another god. Obviously, worshipping any gods except God is sinful for a Christian as is demonstrated in Exodus 20:3-4. The reason for my stance is that there are physical benefits to practising yoga.
This is something that cannot be debated. People who were previously unable to walk have been cured by engaging in yoga. I personally believe that if yoga can conducted in such a way that is honourable to God, God would have no problem in his people using yoga as a physical asset. In 1 Timothy 4:8, Paul states physical health is of some importance, implying that it is not entirely irrelevant in God’s eyes. In conclusion, I personally argue that most will be unable to practice yoga without engaging in sinful spiritual practices. However, for those who can view it only as physical exercise, it is fine. Nonetheless, it is still a very subjective opinion. As the Bible talks about in Romans 14, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and may conduct themselves differently depending on their spiritual maturity. No one is to claim that they are absolutely correct about everything or judge someone else for having different beliefs on a certain topic.
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