Volume. XXII, No. 35
Sunday, 24 February 2008

From the Pastor's Heart: Yoga

There are many subjects of which I am ignorant about.  Reasons for this are many.  I have not been interested in certain subjects and so I simply have not studied them, or I have not been exposed to certain matters and do not know anything about them.  I have always felt that pastoral ministry is interesting and rewarding.  One exciting part of the pastoral ministry is that people ask me many questions on various topics.  When I realize that I do not know much of certain things, I begin to study them and find answers for them.  Yoga has not been my interest, and I have not looked into it much.  However, the books and articles I have read recently, spoke about this topic quite loudly, and I realize that Christian leaders have raised their concerns about it over the years. I also realized that there have been lots of discussions about yoga and Christianity, even now.  I have seen yoga in so many curricula in various schools and organizations.  There are many companies using yoga trainers to teach their employees about exercise and meditation.  I also realize that there are Christians who are in favor of yoga as a form of exercise and there are those who are strongly opposed to it.  I thought it may be better to approach from the Hindu Yogi’s point of view about yoga because it originated from Hindu religion. 

Here is a saying by a man, Yogi Baba Prem, a Vedavisharade trained in the traditional gurujural system:  It was quite astonishing to see on the flyer ‘Christian Yoga! This Thursday night....’  I could feel the wheels spinning in my brain. ‘Christian Yoga,’ I thought.  Now while Christians can practice yoga, I am not aware of any Christian teachings about yoga.  Yoga is not a Judeo/Christian word!  It is not a part of the Roman Catholic teachings and certainly not a part of Protestant teachings.  It is not found within the King James Version of the Bible.  It is a Hindu word, or more correctly a Sanskrit word from the Vedic civilization. So how did we get ‘Christian Yoga’?  ‘From this I could conclude that Christian Yoga could only indicate one of two possibilities: 1) Christianity is threatened by yoga and is attempting to take over this system that invaded their turf pertaining to spiritual teachings and techniques, and 2) Christianity is subconsciously attempting to return to the spiritual roots of civilization, the Vedic civilization’” (http://yogibabaprem.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/10/there-is-no-christian-yoga.htm).  Having said this, he raised a question: “why would they [Christians] want to take over yoga?  Could it be due to the decline of members within the Christian church within the last 60 years?”  He answers to his own questions: “(1) yoga, and eastern spirituality, offered answers to the spiritual questions that the spiritually hungry masses had, (2) Christianity was itself looking for answers, (3) Possibly by embracing the technology of yoga and meditation, the Christian church could finally return to the idea of love and acceptance that it believed it was founded upon, (4) possibly in their wisdom, the current fathers of the church realized that their time was coming to a close.”

Here is a saying from Danda of Dharma Yoga Ashram (Classical Yoga Hindu Academy) said, “Is Yoga a religion that denies Jesus Christ? Yes.  Just as Christianity denies the Hindu MahaDevas such as Siva, Vishnu, Durga and Krishna, to name a few, Hinduism and its many Yogas have nothing to do with God and Jesus (though we do respect that others believe in this way).  As Hindus who live the Yogic lifestyle, we appreciate when others understand that all of Yoga is all about the Hindu religion.  Modern so-called ‘yoga’ is dishonest to Hindus and to all non-Hindus such as the Christians.” 

Here are a few exerts from Johanna Michaelsen in Like Lambs to the Slaughter, pp. 93-95: “There is a common misconception in the West that hatha-yoga, one of about ten forms of Yoga that supposedly leads to self-realization, is merely a neutral form of exercise, a soothing and effective alternative for those who abhor jogging and calisthenics ... [However], Hatha-yoga is \'one of the six recognized systems of orthodox Hinduism\' and is at its roots religious and mystical.  It is also one of the most difficult and potentially dangerous [spiritually] forms of Yoga. The term hatha is derived from the verb hath, which means ‘to oppress.’... What the practice of hatha-yoga is designed to do is suppress the flow of psychic energies through these channels [‘symbolic, or psychic, passages on either side of the spinal column’], thereby forcing the \'serpent power\' or the kundalini force to rise through the central psychic channel in the spine (the sushumna) and up through the chakras, the supposed psychic centers of human personality and power. Westerners mistakenly believe that one can practice hatha-yoga apart from the philosophical and religious beliefs that undergrid it. This is an absolutely false belief. ... You cannot separate the exercises from the philosophy. ... ‘The movements themselves become a form of meditation.’  The continued practice of the exercises will, whether you ... intend it or not, eventually influence you toward an Eastern/mystical perspective.  That is what it is meant to do! ... There is, by definition, no such thing as ‘neutral’ Yoga.”

Then you read the following article written by Elizabeth Valerio, “Healthy Manhattan: Stretching toward Jesus” in New York Press.  It’s subtitle is “If yoga is Hindu, why are Christians doing it in church—and to the Lord’s Prayer?:” “To get to their weekly yoga class, practitioners carry their mats past a New York Sports Club and a Crunch gym. Then they walk into a church, where the minister wears a T-shirt and spandex capri pants and recites the Lord’s Prayer while stretching into the sun salute.  They’re part of a growing U.S. movement: Christians who say they are getting closer to God in a non-traditional way.  Christian yoga classes have been the most popular way for adults to enrich their faith in the past seven years, according to the Rev. Thomas Ryan, a Christian yoga instructor who directs the Paulist North American Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations in New York City and authored Prayer of Heart and Body: Meditation and Yoga as a Christian Spiritual Practice. . . . It’s a turnabout of sorts because, for many conservative Christians, the rise of yoga in the United States has been almost blasphemous. Some were uncomfortable with the fact that Christians were adopting a Hindu practice. Others attacked it even more vehemently as widespread sinning, a turning-away from Christianity. . . For Ryan’s students, and others, those conflicts have been reconciled.  ‘The Christ-centered [yoga] format is an effective way for Christians to enjoy the practice, and the many benefits of yoga without the concern that it is in any way contrary to their spiritual beliefs,’ argued Susan Bordenkircher, author of Yoga for Christians. . . . The classes are a mix of prayer and pose, with a contemporary twist of Jesus. A typical session begins with personal prayer followed by the assani, or poses. The sun-salute, perhaps the most prevalent yoga sequence in hatha yoga, or yoga for a physical purpose, is paired with the Lord’s Prayer.  ‘Yoga is something that you should do for your person, but all those ideas come from Hindu philosophy.  It shouldn’t be seen as just a tool for [Christians].’  But Hindu concern isn’t standing in the way of Christian yoga’s expansion. ‘Yoga is here to stay as a spiritual vehicle,” Kapadia said, ‘and I know it will flourish for many faiths.’”

Here is a comment on relationship between yoga and New Age Movement: “As a phenomena which has gained notable attention in the last three decades or so, the New Age movement has been of special interest to those who specialize in the study of religion. The history and origin of this essentially American movement is an especially interesting one.  While several historical trends have contributed to the development of this world view, the main impetus for the New Age movement - both since the 1960\'s, and including its pre-Sixties antecedents - has been the periodic influx of spiritual and philosophical ideas, as well as practices derived directly from the ancient Yoga tradition. . . . Indeed, the greatest single contributor of philosophical concepts and practices to the American New Age movement has been something neither new nor American, i.e., the ancient transformative tradition of Yoga Spirituality” (http://www.dharmacentral.com/articles/newage.htm).  No wonder there are new agers who claim to be Christians.  From the biblical point of view, New Age movement is pagan and foreign to the biblical teachings.  These two cannot and do not go together.  Then, the conclusion becomes clear: yoga is not for Christians.  Hindus know it.  New Agers know it.  One thing is for sure: there is no Christian yoga.  May the Lord deliver us from deceptions!

 Lovingly, Your Pastor

More Lively Hope




Baptism, Confirmation & Membership Transfer on 23 Mar. Anyone interested please see Ps Ki by 2 Mar.

Sunday School Teachers required. Please see Dn Edwin D’Mello.

Church Directory Update: Please provide your contact details to Sis Josephine Wong.

YAF Welcome Night Dinner - Please bring a dish for sharing. Please invite your friends.

Ladies’ Fellowship Election: Nomination forms for new committee available on literature table.

Helpers needed for Senior Citizens’ Fellowship on Tue, 4 Mar, for transport & refreshments. If you can help please see Sis Peng Ha Yeo.


Looking Ahead

Sunday School Cooking Competition and Video: 10am, 10 Mar.

Family Bible Camp at Victor Harbor: 24-26 April. Speaker: Bro David Weng.

BBK: New class begins on 16 Mar. Please see Ps Ki, Elder Lee or one of the Deacons if interested.


Praise & Thanksgiving

Journey mercies: Elder & Mrs Thomas Liaw & family (S’pore), Dn David Yeo, Bro Ngie Joo & Sis Sooi Chin Gong; Bros Jason Tan (Adl); Jonathan Liao (Melb), Sisters Marion Chan, Shu Ai Cho, Alice Lee, Suzane Lim, Clara Sim, Amanda & Amelia Tan, & Wendy Yong (Adl).

Church activities: Men’s & Ladies’ Fellowship Meetings, Wed Prayer Meeting & Bible Study, Working Bee & YAF Bible Study.

Recovery from surgery - Bro Richard Tee


Prayer Items

Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Chua, Rev Peter Clements, Rev Edward Paauwe, Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros S Dhamarlingam, Makoto Kobayashi, Raphael Ng’s father, Richard Pearson, Richard Tee, Winston Selvanayagam; Grandpa Ki; Sisters Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Margaret, Dianne, & Sarah Pearson, Aranka Rejtoe, Susan Veradi, Sylvia White & Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law; Auntie Oei & others in affliction.

Cambodia Missions - Cambodian pastors.

Laos Missions - Bro S Dhamarlingam & family.

India/Pakistan Missions - Pastors & Believers.

Kuching Missions - Teo family.

Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Bro H S Lim.

Orientaion Week at Adelaide Uni - YAF organisers & helpers; God’s guidance.

Journey Mercies - Bro Richard Tee & Sisters Yee Min Tee (Melb), & Tabitha Heah (Adl)

Jobs - Bro Daniel Volvricht.

The Lord’s provision for a new church van and floor coverings for our Sunday School rooms.

Accommodation for Sisters Gillian Ong and Min Yen Chia in Melbourne.

Further study in Melb - Bros Jonathan Liao, Richard & Sis Yee Min Tee as they study in Melb.

Sister B-P Churches in Australia.

Persecution: Believers suffering in Islamic countries.

Ebenezer BPC, Melb: Session Election today.

Evangel BPC, PJ: Elder Dr Lim & Congregation.



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