First of all let me congratulate the Nagaland Baptist Church Council and Nagaland Christian Revival Church Council for coming out boldly with proactive decisions regarding observance of World Yoga Day.
The Churches’ approach of ‘Never on a Sunday,’ is laudable, but begs the question, are we ok if it is on Monday or any other week day? The exercises involved in yoga, the meditations have deep spiritual significance. Their intention is different from other physical exercises.
We are told by some Christians that practicing yoga has increased their well being and happiness quotient, so whats the fuss about? We are also told that these poses are going to fill our coffers, so why not?
The target audience for this article is the committed Christian, young or old, who is in a quandary. To yoga or not to yoga? I want to help you make an informed decision by answering some basic questions.
1. Can a Christian practice yoga without getting caught up in the religious aspects of it?
* The problem is that yoga is religious in nature. The intention of yoga is a way to earn salvation. It is taught within all sects of Hinduism as a means to earn salvation. Meditation is central to all forms of yoga. It is said that meditation helps its practitioners to find release from the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Yoga is a physical exercise by which one works his or her way to God, a non physical uniting with God. The point of the practice of yoga is to unite oneself with God. Yoga is a practice, a life long practice and not a task or a goal to be completed.
2. Is there anything wrong in doing stretching exercises?
* This is a question that needs to be answered since the major part of yoga is stretching. There is nothing wrong with stretching at all. In fact stretching is a very useful exercise to help people stay healthy. The problem comes when one meditates and focuses on the religious aspects of yoga. One needs to distinguish between purely stretching and yoga. So if one is purely stretching and is not practicing the philosophical and religious nature of yoga, then feel free to go on. However, be warned that the very nature of yoga is such that you need to go further and further into it to get the feelings that you first got, and that’s when you may not be able to help yourself.
3. If there are medical benefits from practicing yoga, then why should Christians not be able to practice yoga?
* With any physical fitness programme there are bound to be some positive medical benefits. There are many other great physical fitness programs that are out there with great benefits. So if it is well being and medical benefits that you are after, and if you are a committed Christian, why take the chance in meddling with something that comes from and is associated with, a false view of salvation? Why do we feel like we have to use an exercise that has religious values that we do not subscribe to? Yoga is different from other exercise systems because it is more than just an exercise. The point of yoga is to combine body, mind and soul together.
If you are a Christian that believes that Jesus is the only way to have salvation, (John 14:16). Then the practice of yoga would be detrimental to your walk with the living God. Your relationship with Jehovah is precious and needs to be valued and protected. Our salvation cannot be earned. We know that it is by grace through faith, so we cannot meddle in belief systems that makes nothing of the cross of Jesus Christ, the highest price God paid for mankind. We cannot be saved by works, no matter how good that work may be. We as Christians are to be different from the world, we are not to do things the same way as the world. Rom. 12:1-2. When we try and use the methods of the world in order to get close to God then we are in direct disobedience to God and are dishonoring and trampling under our feet the Blood of the precious Lamb of God which was shed for our sins and trespasses. (Hebrews 6:4-6). Putting our Lord to an open shame is a very dangerous thing.
President, Chakhroma Christian Revival Church Women’s Association, Chakhroma Sub Council Office Chumukedima. H.O. Chumukedima.