Sunday, November 22, 2009

Conflict Between Yoga and Religion

I just don’t get it. Not one piece of my brain can understand how some Christians are against yoga because of the conflict with their Christianity. Do they think yoga itself is a religion . . . that possibly goes against Christianity? Is that what the problem is? Do they think yogis are praying to a false god by doing sun salutations?

After working so hard to get my yoga teaching certification I landed my first teaching gig. Several people in my town have expressed interest in yoga classes led by our parks and recreation department. The rec commission asked me to teach and I, of course, was thrilled. But now we are looking for space to hold the class and so far both churches in town have blatantly turned us down due to the “conflict with Christianity.”

I understand that the practice of yoga originally came from India and was originated by Buddhists, but people . . . let’s MOVE ON. Perhaps the people that are so against this evil thing called yoga should open their minds and maybe learn a little bit more about what goes on behind the closed doors of a yoga studio before they judge. And how Christian is it anyway to judge people and cast them aside if they don’t conform perfectly to their ideals? I wish they would understand that practicing yoga makes people more patient and better balanced. Wouldn’t the whole world be a better place if more people practiced yoga regularly?


yoga said...

Fortunately not all Christians are like this. I certainly so no conflict but a great complement between yoga and Christian spirituality. i know many other Jesus followers who feel the same way.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

yoga is what yoga does...

Ted Lee said...

As a Christian who practices yoga, I think it's funny how some Christians are so against it because it doesn't fit in their religious construct. There are many things in the world that don't fit perfectly in the Christian religious construct (such as suffering in the world, etc.) - that's where faith comes in. As far as I know, I feel great when I practice yoga, and not the indulgent, "I did something bad but I'm definitely going to pay for it in the morning" great, but the spiritually balanced great.

However, if this be any consolation for you, I would say a good 99% of Christians I encounter don't even skip a beat when I tell them I practice yoga.

Anonymous said...

Hear you! They're extarntrics! I'm christiian and love yoga! They prob dont/cant see the whole picture, their shunning out everything thats not them, and not being open minded. It should be for all. has many benitfits! thank you!

Anonymous said...

As a hopeful instructor and fairly devout Christian, I think people like that operate from fear. It's easy to see things that aren't true in a practice that you don't understand. It takes time.

yati said...

It is true, Yoga is not a religion. The various Yogas (Karma Yoga, Bhakti Y. Hatha Y., etc) factually are, however,the progressive practices within Hinduism and its sects. Just as Mass, Communion, Baptism, etc. are not a religion they are inseparably part of a specific religion. Thus, it would be unethical to uproot them from the ir source. As to "yoga originally came from India and was originated by Buddhists", that is also false. Hinuism preceded Buddhism. the Buddha was an Hindu. It was his followers who created a sect/religion from hinduism. the first mention of Yoga was in the Vedas; "Seers of the vast illumined seer Yogically control their minds and intelligence" (Rig Veda V.81).

Jenny said...

I hear this so often and it's such a shame that some religious people can appear to have such closed minds. After all, I think the point of any religion is to find unity between oneself and the universal truth. Surely yoga can help to reach this point even quicker?

yati said... and many others miss the "point." There is unity in respecting other religions but not in stealing from them.
The Yogas are part of Hinduism. What does it say of one's religion when they need to take, rarely acknowledging its origin, practices from another religion...very insulting or is it revealing of another religion's's religion should be a complete path? For those not belonging to a religion other than Hinduism,they are being unethically taught a religious practice by a non-Hindu who is misrepresenting/exploiting Hinduism. also, true religious practices are not conveyed for a fee, but only donations. Take, for ex., a Non-Christian teaching Swim Class at the local YMCA and calling it Baptism, everyone in the West would get the "point" and an uproar would justifiably ensue. Here are some facts vs. the New Age false opinions.
~Sanskrit: The ancient language of the Hindus [Webster's] Note: all subsequent terms are Sanskrit (Skr.) and thus Hindu
~Aum/Om: The most sacred syllable in Hinduism [Oxford World Religions]
~yoga: Skr. "Hinduism" [Webster's]
~yoga: Oneness of Atmana and Brahman [Dict. of Skr. Names]
~yogi/yogini: (male/female) Hindu Ascetic [Oxford World Rel.]
~Atmana: Skr. Self/Spirit; Hinduism [Webster's]
~Brahman: Skr. Hindu Religion [Webster's]
~yoga: Skr. A Hindu discipline [Oxford Am. Dict.]
~ yoga: Skr. A system of Hindu religious philosophy [Thorndike Barnhardt]
~yoga: Skr. general term for spiritual disciplines in Hinduism [Columbia Encyclopedia]
~Swami: Skr. Title of respect of a (Hindu) Holy man or teacher. [Oxford World Religions]
~Guru: Skr. A teacher of worldly skills...more often of religious knowledge...liberation (Moksa). [Oxford World religions]
~Moksa: Release/liberation - the fourth and ultimate goal of Hinduism. [Oxf. World Religion]
~The first recorded evidence of the Skr. word "yoga" is found in the Vedas.
~Veda Skr. The most ancient sacred literature of the Hindus. [Webster's]
~Upanishads: Text in Hinduism which ends or completes the Vedic corpus (body of [Hindu] laws)

Anonymous said...

Sat Nam, (reverent greetings)

I am a Kundalini Yoga Teacher and I experience some suspicion with Christians especially around the chanting mantra. Their fear is that they will be worshipping false gods.

Yoga is a tool to raise your consciousness to experience GOD within.

Religion is simply how you choose to worship that GOD.

I see religion and yoga complimentary and in no way in conflict.

peace to ALL,

Catalyst Yogi