Yoga vs. traditional religion

Photo: Courtesy of N. John Shore Jr.We sometimes get questions and comments like, “Do you believe in God?” or “I don’t meditate. I pray because I’m a Christian.” We believe that a well-planned meditation practice is perfectly compatible with any religious belief. N. John Shore, writer and columnist for the Asheville Citizen-Times explains it well:

Asheville Citizen-Times:

Ask John: Should Christians do yoga?

My question is: Do you think that doing yoga and being a Christian are incompatible? Articles I have seen via Google search say they are — that a Christian should basically never do yoga. But I wanted to see what you thought about it. THANK YOU!

Answer: I certainly do not think that doing yoga is incompatible with being a Christian. Just the opposite, in fact. I’m guessing you’ll be pleased to learn that while yoga has its roots in the millennia-old Indian traditions now known as Hinduism, it is not a religion. Like Hinduism itself, yoga has no truck whatsoever with any religion or faith system: it respects them all as equally and absolutely valid.

In short, yoga is not at all in competition with Christianity.

Yoga is a means of exercising one’s body, with the overall intention of clearing and calming one’s mind, so that one might then experience a natural elevation of consciousness. You are a Christian, meaning that you are, by definition, seeking Christ consciousness; you want to contain within yourself as much of the spiritual essence of Christ as possible. Using yoga to help you do that is like using a car to help you get somewhere you want to go. That’s what a car is for. That’s what a car does.

Like a car, yoga doesn’t care where you want to go; it only wants to help you get there. It is a means, not an end. A Muslim doing yoga will draw closer to Allah, a Jew to Yahweh, a Christian to Christ, an atheist to a heightened sense of oneness with all. Anyone seeking an elevated, peaceful, more centered mindset can use yoga to get it. That’s what yoga is for. That’s what yoga does.

Remember that human beings possessed corporeal bodies, and a profound drive towards what we might call The Universal Divine, for a long, long time before Jesus Christ came along. Yoga is perfectly okay with your moving Jesus into the space it calls (for one) The Divine Godhead. It invites you do that. Yoga wants nothing more than to facilitate your relationship with your Higher Power, however you might conceive of that particular and deeply personal phenomenon. And if it can help you break a sweat while you’re doing so, then so much the better.

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The Meditation Center

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Sylva, NC 28779

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