Thoughts on Yoga and the Mind

When I first became a Christian, it was at a friend’s church some distance from where I lived. I didn’t know of anywhere locally where I could grow in my faith. This meant that when I went to stay with my friend, breakfasts were my most-loved times of the day. We’d sit at the kitchen table with her mum – a strong Christian who read her Bible at the start of every day, and we’d talk about spiritual things. If there was a question my friend couldn’t answer, her mum was sure to know.

I don’t remember how we got onto the subject of yoga, but I’m glad we did, because what Iris said has always stayed with me. “They teach you to open your mind,” she told me, “but when you open up your mind, it’s empty – you’re leaving room for the devil. You’ve got to keep your focus on Christ.” That has always been enough to put me off anything that would take over the power of my mind – hypnosis to conquer fear, etc.

The Bible is very clear on this sort of thing too. “We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). How can we use our minds to take thoughts captive if our minds are empty? “Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking” (Romans 12:2). If I’m watching something on YouTube and a scene plays out in front of me, I have to decide in my mind: Is this acceptable or isn’t it? We’re in the world, but as Christians, we shouldn’t just swallow whatever it wants to feed us, and when it comes to something like yoga, you’re being fed more than you might think.

Recently I came across this article, which I’d strongly recommend if you want to read more about the topic. To summarise, yoga has been designed not just to keep you physically fit, but to give you a spiritual experience. It’s based on the belief that these experiences can be obtained through opening up energy-sources located in different parts of the body – a belief found nowhere in the Bible. God isn’t an energy; He’s a personal God. He came into the world and became one of us in His Son Jesus, because He wanted to approach us. Power can be transferred from a yoga teacher to their students during meditation, even if the students may be unaware of it at the time, and think what kind of power this is. Jesus clearly says in the Bible: “The only way to the Father is through Me” (John 14:6), so for those who try to find God through yoga or anything other than a relationship with Jesus, it won’t be God they’re finding. It’ll be a counterfeit – demonic power instead of God’s power; evil spirits instead of the Holy Spirit. That’s why yoga concerns me so much.

However, the article says that once this former yoga teacher came to know Jesus Christ, he was delivered from the evil spirits. That same clean slate is available to anyone who turns to Jesus. I don’t want to leave you anxious, but to give you a warning and offer you hope. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). It’s not opened-up minds we need; it’s guarded minds, protected by the peace of God.

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