Monday, April 26, 2010

Where Does Our Help Come From?

Well, I am going to step out here today and risk being irrelevant. Oh my!  My hope is to get some of my closest and dearest friends to think and investigate the things of our culture that can so easily become the norm to us. I would love to read comments or be provided with additional resources should you have any.

About a month ago I was at home alone. It was right around the time that I went part-time and I was a little stressed out about the whole transition. My stress always manifests itself in physical ways.  I will clench my jaw, my shoulders will hurt, I have headaches and chest pains.  It's really just good, plain fun.

Anyway, I had some time to myself and I was experiencing lots of tension in my neck and shoulders. I decided to pull up a YouTube video and try to couple of yoga exercises specifically for the relief of neck pain. I proceeded to spend the next 30 minutes on the floor of my bedroom in an array of poses and postures. When I was finished I sat up and just felt kind of strange. On one hand I loved the idea of becoming more flexible and relaxed, but on the other hand something just did not feel right.  I honestly can't explain it any better than that.

I popped up and began to search for thoughts on yoga from some of the men that I respect the most.

First, I listened to this sermon from John Piper.  The whole sermon does not solely revolve around the topic of yoga but he definitely addresses the topic and he pleads for us to stop and think about what we are doing.  If your faith is in Christ then I encourage you to listen to the words from Piper.

Next, I sought out what John MacArthur had to say about this issue.  Quickly I found this interview (it is posted on YouTube so don't be surprised by the mix of comments left on this video) and follow up sermon and I thought MacArthur's responses made great sense, particularly in regards to how we should pursue meditation and ways to relieve our stress. It's short and sweet, so watch it, okay?

Lastly, I just think it's important for you to study the terminology, poses and postures of yoga so that you can understand what each of them mean. I think that you would be surprised by some of the meanings.  As a brief example, a few are listed here.

Again, this post is not to make anyone feel condemned for being a Christian and practicing yoga. Afterall, I am just beginning to think about this myself. Rather, it is a call for those of us love Christ with our whole hearts to examine everything carefully; holding fast to that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

I will continue to study this topic and let you know if I stumble across more relevant materials. And of course, I would love the same from you.

Much love, friends,

***You will see a number of anynomous comments below which are from a email thread of some of my closest friends. Lots of different thoughts on the subject. ***


  1. Interesting. Mike and I started doing some yoga with our P90x 12 week program, and also some karate type thing that I can't remember the name of at the moment. I really loved the yoga and when he would say "clear your mind" or the other mumbo jumbo, I would pray and just took that time to relax and stretch, etc. (or mike and I would make silly faces and laugh at each other). I'm off to watch and read what you have found, but wanted to give my gut reaction. I think there are so many things in the world that are founded on pagan theology ... does it mean that we can't somehow incorporate Christ in American traditions or fads, or should we steer clear of anything not rooted in His name? Just a question. Halloween is good example. I actually hate Halloween really, but I would never go as far as not allow Mia Grace to trick or treat or dress up ... I just wont get into all the ghosts and goblins and make it more about fun and make believe. Great post! I'm excited to learn more.

  2. I listened to a sermon the other day from Mark Driscoll and he was talking about how yoga is assuming a position of submission to the spirit world from a false religion. Yoga is hinduism and assumes that we all have a divine spark in us and its about connecting to the universe and not to God. Basically he says its the worship of demons because thats what the origins of it are and its basically a chant to the spirits. Yeah you can stretch and relax and benefit from that, but not if your doing yoga. Your emptying out yourself and not filling it with Christ. Anyways thats what Mark Driscoll's thoughts on it were. You can listen to it on his podcast "Jesus and Demons" Part 2 if your interested.

  3. I love to read your stuff - Court!

    I read the Piper stuff and I have heard Mark Driscoll preach against yogo as well, but this is my stand....

    How do you use yoga? Do you just take the exercises/stretching and use it? Do you go to yoga class and meditate and create an idol?

    If you simply take the physical aspect of yoga and allow God to redeem it, then how is that wrong? How is it wrong to stretch, if you reflected and meditated on the Word of God? How is it wrong to stretch, if you used that time to quite your soul and pray before God?

    If we as believers give, why do we give? Are we giving because we want to be a great humanitarian, or are we giving because God has freely-given to us?

    If we exercise, why do we exercise? Do I do it to steward the body God has given me? Do I do it because I want people to look at me and think I am one BA?

    I use these to show that it is about your heart and your motive.

    Yoga might be okay for some and not for others. It might not be smart for some to engage the world that way or use that method for exercise, but I believe that God can use it and redeem it. We can take just the physical stretching methods and use them for God's glory and our good.

    I wouldn't die for my stance, but as of right now I believe it. I would love to hear more...

  4. Dang, man!
    Those are some harsh stances on yoga...and I love it because yoga is hard!

    Seriously, and along the same line J. already eastablished, I believe God is much more concerned with the inner dwellings than the outward manifestations. If a person has sex outside of marriare, it's not the sex God is displeased with, but the aftermath and mistreatment of the covenant made in union. I'm saving the full explanation hoping it's understood. It's always internal. If I kill a person, my humble opinion is that God is more concerned with my lack of obedience and hate for my brother than the physical act itself. Yoga seems to me to be an outward expression only, with no thought of demons or internal manifestations of another spiritual world. For instance, if I ever did yoga, I really think I would just appreciate the intricacies human body as created by God. Others may use it in a different, inner cleansing kind of way and therefore find themselves in direct opposition to God.

    I think I just said the same thing J. said, but different...get it?

  5. J., I basically am in your corner at the moment, but like you said (which I LOVE) “I wouldn’t die for my stance right now”.

    I guess I just think if we go “there” , as in not practicing or participating in anything that wasn’t originally rooted in Christ, then there is a whole lot of crap we have to get rid of ... No Halloween, no sororities/ fraternities, even Christmas trees for that matter.

    I go with more of a heart deal on the matter. Yoga (a part of P90x) has really brought M. and I together (really just exercising together in general), I feel healthier and am taking much better care of my body. I’m not in defensive mode here, because I could easily give up the yoga part and I know M. would, but I just can’t see how its separating me from Christ at all.

    John Piper made this point in his follow up argument. “Getting yourself into some kind of weird physical position has no impact on your spiritual life whatsoever.” (Laughter) ... I totally agree :)

    If you love Jesus and know that He is the truth and the life, you know that He is the only way, your redeemer, your healer, your complete fulfillment, then how in the world would something like stretching get in the way of the relationship you have with your creator?

    I guess the argument for that would be (because I have to argue with myself :) ) that we should only be filling our lives with things that bring us closer to God, so doing something that has no impact on your spiritually is not healthy or good at all. But, even with that argument, I’d say you can easily incorporate connection with God during yoga, or any other physical movement for that matter. Although, I have to admit here that I never have understood how people run and pray ... Good Lord! My prayers go something like “help me Jesus” “help me finish” “I hate running, God help me” (laughter) and yes, I just stole that from John Piper. I quite like it and it makes me feel more mature than LOL.

    I’d love to hear what others think. And thanks for the heads up on Driscoll. I really like him!

  6. Yeah i completelty agree with paul and jt about the importance of the internal and not external. It's just to me yoga was created as an act of worship and not the worship of the God we serve. I dont know, its kind of one of those situations everything is permissable but not everything is beneficial. Yes we as christians still live in this world but are not of it and enjoy the freedoms of Christ. I guess the main thing i would worry about is those that aren't and dont fully grasp the true meaning of yoga and what it could lead to.

  7. LOL. At our friend dinner, I told T. and J. I did Yoga X (P90X Yoga) and loved it. I didn't meditate or pray to any other gods. I enjoyed stretching out my muscles and loved how relaxed I felt after it was all done. No demon worshipping for G. and me (to my knowledge). I guess I am one of J.'s examples. Where was my heart and mind during Yoga? To be honest, I wasn't praying to my Savior; I had a horrible headache and I was so stressed out. I didn't think about anything but the pain from the position I was in, and it was SOOOO nice not to focus on my headache and life stresses for a short time. Everything can be used for good or for evil, so I will choose, if I even ever have time to do Yoga X again, to use it as a tool to take care of the body God gave me. Maybe I'll even meditate on the things of God if I can think of anything other than my pain from those crazy positions. If you find yourself judging me on my lack of spirituality during Yoga, then you've probably never done Yoga:)

  8. I just saw this but didn't want to read anyone's response in case it caused me to change my own initial thoughts. The first verse that came to mind was the one where Paul is talking about how all things are permissable but not all things are beneficial (totally paraphrasing here!). We had a professor at school talk about some of these issues that aren't absolutes and that is where you have to see what the holy spirit is convicting you of and what is your heart/ motive behind it. You could also discuss the topic of alcohol, for some they just don't have the freedom to drink, it is a personal conviction for them and if they were to drink then I think it would be a sin for them because they are going against something the lord has convicted them of for maybe deeper reasons, the same for yoga, if you don't think you can do it and not let it affect you negatively, then you should stay away from it, but I know many people who do it for the workout and ignore the meditating part! If you've ever done hot yoga, it is awesome, just too expensive to keep up fir me :(

    But it is always good to check your heart in everything you do and I haven't listened to the pastors you listed yet, so they may have a better insight. I feel like this is a way long response! Now to read your responses!

    Our professor also said that if you personally have conviction over a matter be it yoga, drinking, secular music, birth control, whatever, then just because not everyone shares in your same convictions doesn't mean that you should "force" yourself to have a peace about it either, we all have to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and respond when He is trying to work on us!

  9. Court - I just started taking yoga because I needed a new work out and didn't know much (nor do I care too much) about the beginnings of's a great stretch/muscle relaxer for me and I spend so much of my time praying! For me it's been a good way to talk to God about my day. I think, for me at least, it's all about what you use yoga for - and I use it to stay healthy and somewhat fit!

  10. Just listened to Driscoll's Jesus and Demons Part 2 - really good stuff.

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  12. sure miss my old Yaga t-shirts...
    But seriously i love my wife and hearing all your good thoughts.
    "City of God, how wide and far

  13. Some thoughts on the subject from my friend Rebecca...

    -Hindus have a saying, “There is no Yoga without Hinduism and there is no Hinduism without Yoga”.

    -Does doing Yoga help you on your path to holiness?

    -For the health benefits of stretching, I would recommend pilates, which was scientifically designed to increase core strength and flexibility.

    -If you have a strong emotional aversion to giving up yoga exercises, you might need to evaluate why. Could there be spiritual forces at work?