I first discovered yoga in high school. The high school I attended offered a class and I decided to take the class. I enjoyed the class. There was some aspects of it that I found a little odd such “washing your face” with your hands. It was hard for me not to giggle but the lights were dimmed so I just smirked and contained the laughter on the inside. But after the class, I would feel relaxed and rejuvenated. Off and on I have done yoga and every time, I enjoy the effects of yoga. It reduces stress, stresses my muscles, strengthens my muscles, and calms me.
Hypothyroidism, Adrenal Fatigue and Yoga
If you have read any of my other posts, you probably know I have hypothyroidism. Adrenal fatigue is closely connected to hypothyroidism. After 2 years of slowly but surely getting my ducks in a row, I have begun to feel better and have more energy. But out of nowhere, I began having a hard time going to sleep at night. I would be tired and just could not drift off to sleep easily. Then, I would be so tired during the day. I would fight the drowsiness all day until bed time. I had had this problem previously so I knew it was hypothyroidism or hypo related. I began re-investigating the reasoning for my inability to drift off to sleep and stay awake during the day. After digging, I realized it was my adrenals. I had stopped taking my Ashwagangha and I was under some stress. Long story short, I began taking the Ashwaghanda again and began to look into ways to reduce my stress.
If you do a very quick Google search on “ways to reduce stress,” yoga is sure to come up as well as exercise in general. I knew I had enjoyed yoga previously and with adrenal fatigue, I knew I needed to take it slow with my exercise routine and this time, I wanted to do something I enjoyed. Yoga was also on the list on ways to help recover your adrenals.
After only a short week of doing yoga in my home, I was excited about picking up yoga again. I also had no idea what the difference between yoga and pilates was. I have always wanted to try pilates but just have not got around to it. So what did I do? I got on pinterest of course! I pinned this yoga pin and that pilates pin. Well my pinning interest in yoga/ pilates triggered a pin suggesting Christians shouldn’t do Yoga. I was aware that yoga had some ties to Hinduism/Buddhism but the way I saw yoga was nothing more than an exercise. Well, I decided to read the pin which encouraged me to dig in for myself.
Should a Christian practice Yoga?
Whether it be right or wrong, here is the conclusion I came to.
Is Yoga a religion? No. I think this is where most of the misconceptions come from. Religious people take part in yoga such as Buddhists and Hindus. Hindus do use yoga in their religious practice. If yoga was in fact a religion, Buddhist and Hindus could not partake in yoga. Buddhism and Hinduism is 2 different types of religion that have different beliefs. Therefore, if Hinduism = yoga then Buddhism ≠ yoga. Yoga in itself does not suggest anyone to bow down to a god/gods or denounce such faith. A yoga instructor might have different views on this. A Hindu might see yoga as an important part of his religious practices while an Atheist sees no spiritual connection at all. Just like if I was a yoga instructor, my Christian beliefs would more than likely leak into my class. http://www.yogajournal.com/article/teach/when-religion-and-yoga-are-confused/
If yoga is used during religious practices of other religions, doesn’t that make yoga a part of a religion? Yoga can be part of a religion just like praying is a part of many different religions. Muslims pray to Allah, Christians pray to the one and only God, Buddhists “pray” (or some would say “meditate”) to Buddha, self, or other deities, and Hindus pray to many deities. Prayer or meditating is a huge part in all these religions but no single group can say that prayer belongs to them. With that being said, can yoga exist outside of a religious group? The answer to this question lies in the first question. Yoga isn’t a religion therefore it can exist outside of a religious practice. It can be done during religious practices but it can also be done outside of a religious practice.
Will yoga contradict my Christian beliefs? If you are performing the sequences to yourself, another deity, statue, or gods, then yes, it will contradict your religious beliefs. I would even go as far as to say, performing the sequences to God could contradict your personal beliefs as there is not mention in the bible that one must do the lotus pose or any other pose during prayer or for God. Me personally, I see yoga as simply a way to improve my health. It strengthens my muscles, reduces stress, increases flexibility and clears my head. What yoga does for me is what some may feel about running, walking, strength training or any other forms of exercise. Some American traditions stem from other cultures including those who worshipped false God. Take the Olympics for example. If you read up on the history, you will find the Greek ties to the Olympics. The Greeks dedicated their Olympic Games to the Olympian gods. America and as far as I know, other countries, have taken the Olympic games and de-greekified (probably not a word but that’s what I’m going with) the religious ties. When the Olympics take place, the games are not dedicated to any deity, god, gods, or anything religious. The Olympics to Americans is just a competitive sport. It means nothing more than baseball, football, soccer, relays, or any other sport. I think the same concept applies to yoga. If yoga is done as part of your religion, then the act is wrong in regards to Christian beliefs. If you do yoga as a form of exercise, it’s just that. It’s just another form of exercise.
“One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” (Romans 14:4-9)
The yoga teacher will say to do “oms””, “pray to your heart,” etc… I would be lying if I said I have never encountered this. I bought a yoga video on Amazon the other day. The woman said such strange things like “give a thanks to your greatest teacher, your heart,” abruptly busted out in an “om”” while having her hands in a prayer like position and other things. I had to turn off the video. It did feel like I was taking part in some kind of Hinduism, Buddhist or a non-Christian religious practice. The instructor’s views leaked into the yoga video.
There has also been things that have been mentioned in the videos like “as you breath there express your gratitude for the healing in your practice.” Some might take offense to such a comment and some may think nothing more of the comment. I think this may all depend on the person and while I am not 100% on board with this comment, I do appreciate what yoga does for my body just like any other form of exercise, but at the same time, I’m not going to put yoga or any other practice up on a pedestal. I enjoy yoga yes. I feel it benefits my body. But I am not going to give thanks to any sport, exercise or practice because that is all it is to me. It is a form of exercise. Any thanks I give will be to my the Father in Heaven. Any healing that takes place will be from the will of my Father in Heaven. When issues like might arise, I simply ignore the comment much like I would disregard certain comments being made on the TV. If I feel the yoga instructor is trying to make any ties to their religious beliefs and yoga, I turn it off and move to another video where the yoga instructor treats yoga as a form of exercise.
What if I feel yoga is wrong? if your conscious condemns you, then you shouldn’t do it.
Would I be a stumbling block for others? I think this is kind of ridiculous but I did see this brought up in my research so here goes. I personally don’t know anyone that I would personally be a stumbling block by doing yoga (unless talking about clothing choices) but that is not to say it’s not possible. I don’t know of many examples for this particular question but this is the best example I could come up with. Maybe a Hindu that was converted to Christian that once used yoga as a way to pray to the Hindu’s deities might see another Christian as a stumbling block. If that was the case, then no you shouldn’t ask them to join you in yoga, talk about yoga around them, post anything about yoga on facebook or do yoga in front of them.
I personally do yoga in the privacy of my own home. For one, my clothing choices. I wear capri leggings. I wear them partly because of lack of options (finding modest workout clothes is ridiculously hard) but for 2, they stay in place when I am moving around. I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to wear leggings with a form fitting tank for others to see because of being a stumbling block to others. This isn’t the only kind of clothing I wear during yoga but just one example. Another reason I do yoga at home is because I don’t like the expense of paying for a class nor do I want to. I like doing yoga in the privacy of my own home and the option to do it when I want. Sometimes I do a PM yoga an hour before bed to help unwind…. There are many reasons why I do yoga at home but my point is that no one sees me do it unless I have a peeping Tom that I’m not aware of. Of course, that peeping Tom might just be my hubby haha! And if that’s the case, well not exactly a stumbling block for him, lol.
As far as clothing choices being a stumbling block goes, this doesn’t only go for yoga. I have seen runners, walkers, gymnastics, and other athletes that are a stumbling block for others especially men because of their choice to wear immodest workout clothing in public. If you are exercising in front of others or in a class, then put some clothes on that leave a lot to the imagination. In other words, clothing that shows cleavage, butt, lots of leg, lots of back, lots of skin or every curve on your body in public is a stumbling block. Many Christian men have struggled with lust and porn. Seeing a woman in tight yoga pants or short spandex shorts can cause a man to stumble. If you wouldn’t want your husband gawking at another woman in the same clothing, then don’t wear it for others to see. Oh, and for the record, even if your a bigger, or plus size woman, don’t think this doesn’t apply to you. A man can lust after a plus size woman just like he can lust after a model. In all honesty, there are men who prefer a plus size woman over a stick thin woman.
It’s all about attitude
I guess in the end what I am trying to say is that it all depends on what one’s perspective is on yoga. If you look at yoga as a spiritual practice, then it will be a spiritual practice. If you see yoga as a form of exercise, then it will be a form of exercise.