Should Christians Do Yoga
Its still making headlines in magazines and on television, its still being touted by healthcare professionals, and its still enticing consumers at local department stores. What am I talking about? Well, yoga, of course.
Praised by many for its calming effect and wellness benefits, yoga is gaining cultural acceptance even in some Christian circles.
But should Christians be practicing yoga, considering the questionable Hindu underpinnings? If not, is there a safer, Christian alternative that could keep our physical bodies in top shape?
These are the kinds of questions I posed to actress, singer, public speaker, personal trainer, and author Laurette Willis, simply because so many Christians have been confused about this same subject. And knowing that Laurette had been involved in yoga and the New Age for 22 years before coming to Christ, I figured she would know the spiritual ramifications firsthand.
Plus, she is also a certified personal trainer who has developed a stretching exercise program that incorporates Scripture called PraiseMoves that she considers the Christian alternative to yoga. I was curious how her postures differed from those of yoga and how she infused Scripture into her workout routine. She covers much of these details in her latest book BASIC Steps to Godly Fitness and on her DVD PraiseMoves .
Why You Should Stay Away from Yoga
The Christian Yoga Controversy
Laurettes Story: Sucked into Yoga and the New Age
Finding Christ on April Fools Day
What Does The Bible Say About Meditation
The room was dim, the instructors voice was calm and those few moments of stillness were a breath of fresh air in the middle of my frantically busy day. As I slipped my shoes back on and exited the studio, I was glad that my friend had invited me to take part in the meditation class, but at the same time my soul felt a little unsettled. Repeating phrases like, everything I need is already within me, seemed contrary to the roots of my faith. I wondered if meditation is something I should participate in as a Christian? And does the Bible have anything to say about it?
The answer is that the Bible has a lot to say on meditation and it gives us clear instruction on how we should take part in the growing trend of mindfulness. Meditation is a good practice that is encouraged in the Old and New Testament alike, however Christians should be sure their meditative thoughts are fixed on the right things. The ultimate question for any Christian who participates in meditation is this: what is at the center of your meditative focus self-enlightenment or God-alignment?
What Does The Bible Say About Controversies Like Yoga
Christians have struggled to determine what is right or wrong for them to do for centuries. The Corinthian church lived in a sinful city full of pagan practices, and Paul encouraged them to be wise about their choices in 1 Corinthians 10:23:
I have the right to do anything, you saybut not everything is beneficial. I have the right to do anythingbut not everything is constructive.
There is indeed a lot of freedom in the Christian faith because our God has always been the God who looks at the heart.
The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart,1 Samuel 16:7.
But Paul reminds us that our freedom in Christ is not a wild freedom to do whatever we want. Loving our neighbors is a hallmark of a mature Christian.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself, Galatians 5:13-14.
Christians have an extremely helpful resource in the Holy Spirit to guide them. Seek the Holy Spirit as you face choices to either practice yoga or refrain from it, or judge those who do or dont practice.
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak,1 Corinthians 8:9.
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Bible Verses About Meditation
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,Nor stand in the path of sinners,Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!But his delight is in the law of the Lord,And in His law he meditates day and night.He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,Which yields its fruit in its seasonAnd its leaf does not wither And in whatever he does, he prospers.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heartBe acceptable in Your sight,O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
Let my meditation be pleasing to Him As for me, I shall be glad in the Lord.
I have set the Lord continually before me Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
When I remember You on my bed,I meditate on You in the night watches,
I will meditate on Your preceptsAnd regard Your ways.I shall delight in Your statutes I shall not forget Your word.
This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.
I will meditate on all Your workAnd muse on Your deeds.
Great are the works of the Lord They are studied by all who delight in them.
Go to the ant, O sluggard,Observe her ways and be wise,
It Keeps Our Focus On The Right Things
When we meditate on the Word of God, it teaches us exactly what we should spend our time thinking about, and focusing on.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
And when we begin to meditate and focus on the right things, it pleases God:
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord.
Its so easy to get hung up on all that is going wrong in your day, especially if things start off on the wrong foot. But, if we are not careful, we will literally allow the devil to keep us in a bad mood, or bad frame of mind ALL. DAY. LONG.
This is why I keep my pocket bible handy. And thank God for bible apps!
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Can Meditation Be Dangerous
What should cause Christians to pause when theyre participating in meditation? Frankly, theres a lot of dangerous meditation out there. Any thought or practice that is pointing our meditative affections to serenity, success, or to a deeper understanding of self could be moving us away from a focus on Jesus. Most of us arent driving to the local yoga studio for our daily meditation session, but whether we know it or not, most of us are making space in our thoughts to meditate on something. We need to be aware of it and we need to be cautious. Ill give a current cultural example of this:
The past few years, droves of women have hung on every word that comes from the mouth of Rachel Hollis. While I do think she has plenty of advice and enthusiasm that greatly benefits many women, I also think practices like the ones emphasized in her Start Today journal and Start Today Podcast need to be handled very carefully.
She doesnt call her morning routine meditation, but it fits easily into the category of mindfulness. She encourages women to take a few minutes every morning to focus their thoughts and to set the intention for where theyre going to go that day. I have no problems at all with this practice. I have a problem with the direction in which she points the focus of every woman who follows her advice.
Christian Quotes About Meditation
Fill your mind with Gods Word and you will have no room for Satans lies.
The important aim in Christian meditation is to allow Gods mysterious and silent presence within us to become more and more not only a reality but the reality which gives meaning, shape and purpose to everything we do, everything we are. John Main
When you cease from labour, fill up your time in reading, meditation, and prayer: and while your hands are labouring, let your heart be employed, as much as possible, in divine thoughts. David Brainerd
Give yourself to prayer, to reading and meditation on divine truths: strive to penetrate to the bottom of them and never be content with a superficial knowledge. David Brainerd
By meditating on Scripture you are transformed into the person God intends you to be. Meditation is a blend of your words to God and His Word to you it is loving conversation between you and God through the pages of His Word. It is absorption of His words into your mind by prayerful contemplation and concentration. Jim Elliff
The most important thing I had to do was to read the Word of God and to meditate on it. Thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, and instructed. George Muller
The more you read the Bible and the more you meditate on it, the more you will be astonished with it. Charles Spurgeon
When we find a man meditating on the words of God, my friends, that man is full of boldness and is successful. Dwight L. Moody
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What Biblical Meditation Is
Not only is biblical meditation about focusing on God through contemplation on his Word, its about quieting our hearts with Scripture and a deeper intimacy with Jesus.
The particulars of biblical meditation can vary, but the practice isnt complicated. A meditative practice that helps me is sitting quietly and thinking over a passage piece by piece, breaking it apart and dwelling on each word and line of Scripture. I would not be surprised if many of us, even those who scoff at the concept of meditation, have engaged in it without realizing it:
- If youve ever sat with a Scripture and gone over it repeatedly, trying to understand each word, youve meditated.
- If youve ever been compelled by a sermon or passage of Scripture to sit and think over a single attribute or testimony of God, youve meditated.
- If youve ever felt tempted and brought a Scripture to mind, going over it repeatedly to gain Gods strength and rest, youve meditated.
Meditation implies wonder and thought, remembering the Lord in all his glory and pondering him in his fullness:
I will remember the deeds of the Lord yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God?
Encouragement In Times Of Trouble
Even as Christians, there is no shortage of of obstacles, challenges and hardships that we will face in life. However, the bible makes it clear, that we have everything we need through God’s Word to endure trials when they come, and to come out strong in the end.
Though rulers sit together and slander me, your servant will meditate on your decrees. Your statutes are my delight they are my counselors.
Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight.
No matter how dark things get, how low you feel, or even when you feel everyone has abandoned you, remember that you can find comfort in God’s Word.
Oftentimes, it really is as simple as pausing in the midst of craziness, and reflecting on the fact that God is with you and is still in control.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth”.
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What Does Modern Yoga Look Like
Yoga, as it is practiced in the West today, certainly diverges from the yogic practices of ancient India. Yoga is a popular exercise that combines breathing, movement, and meditation. Imported to the United States from India over a century ago, yoga has long been praised for its physical and spiritual benefits.
Research shows yoga can help manage stress, ease depression and anxiety, improve mood, and enhance the quality of sleep. In addition, yoga has been shown to increase flexibility, improve balance and coordination, reduce pain, and increase strength. This adds to the modern-day support of yoga, as it is seen for its health benefits rather than its spiritual practices.
But What About The Apostle Pauls Teaching
But what about what the Apostle Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 8? He writes to the Corinthians concerning eating food offered to idols and says, Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that an idol has no real existence, and that there is no God but one. For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earthas indeed there are many gods and many lords yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist .
Paul goes on to explain that not everyone has this knowledge and therefore is still convicted about eating food offered to idols. He also goes on to say that it is sinful to participate in eating this food in front of people convicted by it. Paul states, Therefore if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble . Could Pauls teaching here apply to yoga, too? Does this make yoga permissible for us as Christians?
I think there is a plausible argument here, but I dont see it as the same. Even though there is no such thing as other gods besides the One True God , there is an enemy who prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour . And there is a spiritual world . Therefore, wed be wise to think deeply about yoga.
The Power Of Prayer And Meditation
Pray before and after you read Scripture
Another way of meditating according to the Bible is to pray before you read scripture. We are to be completely immersed in Scripture. We learn about God and are changed by His Word. It is so easy to grab your phone and read a verse and think that youre good for the day. But thats not quite it.
We need to take a moment to pray to praise the Lord for providing His Word, to pray that He calms our hearts and help us to understand what we are reading. We need to pray that we are changed by what we read so that we can become more transformed into the image of Christ.
19. Psalm 77:6 I said, Let me remember my song in the night let me meditate in my heart. Then my spirit made a diligent search.
20. Psalm 119:27 Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
21. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Always be joyful. 17 Always keep on praying. 18 No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is Gods will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
22. 1 John 5:14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
23. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Meditating On The Bible Brings Spiritual Growth
Spending time meditating on God and on His Word is one way that we progress in sanctification. Gods word is our spiritual food and you have to have food to grow. Meditating allows it to seep in deeper and transform us even more than if we read it quickly and fleetingly.
44. Psalm 119:97-99 Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.
45. Psalm 4:4 Be angry, and do not sin ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.
46. Psalm 119:78 Let the insolent be put to shame, because they have wronged me with falsehood as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
47. Psalm 119:23 Though rulers sit together and slander me, your servant will meditate on your decrees. 24 Your statutes are my delight they are my counselors.
48. Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
49. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
50. Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
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