Yoga may not send you to Hell, but it won’t get you to Heaven
Matt Walsh, above, described here as ‘a hipster Christian blogger’ and ‘basically an outright asshole’, last week went gunning for Christians who see no harm in yoga.
He reported here that he tweeted:
It’s kind of amazing to see all of the Christians who think nothing of going to a yoga class. There are many excellent ways to get in shape that do not involve participating in Hindu worship.
This tweet, he said, led to him being:
Mocked relentlessly … especially by Christians who find any criticism of yoga to be not only wrong but hilarious.
Here’s just one of the tweets that upset him:
You can see other piss-taking tweets here. I particularly like:
My friend sneezed and I said ‘gesundheit’. Now we’re both German. I should have been more careful.
Walsh, an “asinine” Catholic, went on to explain all that was wrong with yoga.
We know that yoga means ‘to yoke’ or ‘to unite’. It has its roots as an ancient Hindu practice meant to unite a person with his body and with the universe. The classic mantras that people repeat in yoga to help them meditate – ‘so’ham’ means ‘I am the universal self’ – are all in service to this mission of ‘oneness’.
It is a pantheistic practice because it derives from the belief that we are all a part of some great flow of cosmic energy, which has no original Author, and which we all are born and then reborn into over and over again. Yoga is supposed to bring us into harmony with this ‘energy’ … Hindus had their spiritual purposes for yoga, we have ours.
Neither purpose seems at all compatible with Christianity.
So, if we follow the trajectory of yoga, we begin with pagan spiritualism, trace it through the anti-Christian counter-culture revolution, then sprinkle on a bunch of new age gibberish, and here we land with the modern day yoga class. Is it really crazy to think that perhaps this thing – with its combination of ancient paganism and new age mysticism – may not be an advisable hobby for Christians?
He then quoted “a well-written article” by a pro-yoga writer named Katie Kimball, who agreed that:
Practicing yoga could be a sin. [It] could be a pathway down which one could fall into pagan worship and away from God. However, doing a yoga pose is not an automatic pathway to Hell.
Walsh went on to suggest that there were better ways of exercising that did not endanger one’s soul.
What is the point of trying to re-purpose pagan worship for the sake of getting a nice workout? What’s wrong with just using an elliptical machine? How is the Kingdom advanced, how is an individual’s actual spiritual fulfillment attained, by participating in a pagan ritual?
There may be some physical benefits to bowing to Mecca five times a day. I’m sure you could get a nice lower back workout.
Apparently, there are.
But, of all the ways to exercise your back, why would you choose to prostrate yourself to Allah? Indeed, I wonder how the Christian yoga apologists would respond to a workout routine based around Muslim prayer?
My guess is that they would make every argument against it that I have made against yoga. But they don’t apply it to yoga because yoga is just a ‘normal’ part of their life, and so they don’t question it.
I see a comparison here with something like a Ouija board or a horoscope. Yes, you can mess around with those things relatively innocently, not actually seeking to summon spirits or ascertain your future from the stars, but why? Is this a form of entertainment that Christians should seek out? What’s wrong with just playing Monopoly instead? Why mess around with it?
I don’t think you’ll automatically be possessed if you do yoga. I don’t think all yoga practitioners go to Hell. But neither do I see how a pagan ritual could ever help someone get to Heaven, and maybe that’s reason enough to leave it alone.