Monday, April 16, 2012

"Holy Yoga"--Exercise or Exorcise?

Last night the local CBS affiliate (channel 5 KPHO) ran a story called Christians Debate 'Holy Yoga'.  There were comments by Mark Driscoll in which he stated his concerns about practicing yoga:
It is absolute paganism.  We do not go into ourselves, we go out to Jesus.
Later Driscoll is quoted as saying:
Some of you think, "Well, I'll just go to yoga and say, 'Jesus.'  Well, that is trying to treat the name of Jesus like a magic formula that you sprinkle over the demonic.
The story also quoted Brooke Boon who is the founder of "Holy Yoga" and the author of Holy Yoga (Faith Words, 2007).  She is quoted as saying:
We pray as the Bible tell us to, we speak truth, we listen to Christian music, we are connecting to one another, so there is nothing wrong inherently with the practice of 'Holy Yoga' being a Christian experience.  Either God is sovereign over all things in all directions for all eternity like he says he is, and we believe that or he's not.  And if he is, then includes yoga.
This is a big topic that has been given sound bites for a quick news story.  Thankfully there has been a thorough Christian analysis of yoga and its alleged "Holy" offshoots.  Elliot Miller has been associated with the Christian Research Institute for over 30 years and in 2008 published a three-part series entitled "The Yoga Boom: A Call for Christian Discernment" which appeared in the Christian Research Journal (vol. 31, nos. 2, 3, 4).  The articles are available on-line and should be considered "required" reading for anyone seeking to look at this topic.  Miller's analysis yields a perspective much closer to Driscoll's than the alternative.  Miller specifically engages the claims of Brooke Boon and finds them to be lacking.  Links to the articles are below.

Part 1: Yoga in its original Eastern context

Part 2: Yoga in its contemporary Western context

Part 3: Toward a comprehensive Christian response
Should one want even more information see The Dangers of Yoga website for more materials--including testimonials of those who have come out of yoga background into life in Christ.