What Is Yoga?

Yoga means “to yoke.” It is often explained that this means the goal of yoga is to yoke together mind, spirit, and body. But that is not the truth of the term. “Yoga” actually refers to the goal of the practice: to attain ultimate knowledge, wisdom, and freedom by losing one’s sense of self and uniting with the Divine (or Supreme Consciousness, Godhead, or other names depending upon the tradition) in much the same way a drop of water loses itself and becomes one with a puddle.

The term “yoke” also explains the yoking of energies, or spirits, that are invoked to aid in the deepening of practice. These energies are invited into the practitioner and their practice in multiple ways: by the practice of worshiping deities and energies with poses of the body (for example, the sun salutation is a series of movements that pays homage to the sun god), by repeating mantras (each sound, word, and phrase invokes its corresponding spirit), of specific breathing exercises (Ujai breathing is one example, also called “Serpent Breath” or “Breath of Fire”), or by setting the intention to invite the spirit of a specific teacher, loved one, or deity to yoke with the practitioner and help deepen their practice. This is where Christians are encouraged to plug in Jesus and make it a practice for him.

But yoga is not a universal, religiously neutral practice that Christianity can be plugged into, as is being propagated. Yoga is an ancient spiritual pagan practice. The religious doctrine and the practice it outlines are completely opposed to Biblical teachings. Yoga was thought to have been practiced for some time before its religious text, called the Yoga Sutras, was recorded around two thousand years ago. This text explains paths of practices with the final goal of ultimate “freedom” from all attachments and sense of self–of becoming one with god and reaching “ultimate knowledge.”

The Lord of the Bible repeatedly and strictly commands against having anything to do with pagan gods. He tells us that they are not gods at all (He is the only real God), but demonic forces disguising themselves as deceptive powers (see Bible). The pagan god of yoga, called Ishvara, is claimed by the Yoga Sutras to be the source of all knowledge (Yoga Sutras, 1.25). This god Ishvara is represented by the symbol and sound of “Om” (1.27). Practitioners are instructed to repeat this name (mantra repetition) to deepen their practice (1.28-29). This means that chanting “Om” is not a meaningless practice of sound vibrations calming the body. It is an invocation of the spirit associated with Ishvara. Practicing the movements of yoga paired with breathing techniques and meditation are also said to deepen the practice (2.46-55). I was taught across varying New Age paths that meditation was necessary to develop in order to “open” oneself and to “progress” on the spiritual path. Yoga is one of these paths. The Yoga Sutras expands on reaching the goal of ultimate knowledge by practicing meditative exercises.

The Yoga Sutras outline a path of sorcercy and divination through developing meditation. These practices are repeatedly and adamantly prohibited in the Bible. The Lord reveals that the truth behind these practices is that the “knowledge” and “power” are coming from demonic spirits, often masked to appear as esoteric experiences of light and goodness (see Bible). The Yoga Sutras explain that by following this yogic path, the practitioner can attain special abilities to tell the past and future (3:16, 3.22), discover spirits and communicate with master spirits (3:25, 3:32), enter into another person’s body (3:38), levitate (3:40), speak with animals (3.17), discover knowledge of past lives (3.18), read the minds of others (3.19), not feel hunger or thirst (3:30), and other attributions of sorcerers and mediums. According to the Yoga Sutras, the mastering of meditation lays the groundwork for these powers and leads to what is called “absolute knowledge of all that can be perceived” (3.5). It states that one can also open oneself to such “supernatural powers” with drugs, mantras, and yoga (4.1).

The possibility of supernatural powers and “wisdom,” of earning one’s way to ultimate freedom may sound exciting and appealing to some. It is supposed to sound appealing because it is a trap. Demonic forces are behind these supernatural experiences of seeming peace, light, and supernatural knowledge and powers. I both experienced this firsthand and discovered numerous scriptures in the Bibleexplaining this reality. It is the goal of these powers to keep people separate from the real and living God, the only God–the Lord–who says one can’t earn his or her way to freedom no matter how hard he or she may try. It’s something the Lord gives freely to anyone as a gift. One simply has to choose to accept by faith that Jesus is who is says he is: the only path, the only Savior, the only God. For more on this, see Salvation.

What About My Yoga Class?
The yoga we know in yoga studios and gyms is one of the practices along this path outlined in the Yoga Sutras. The path encourages meditation to quiet and open oneself to the spiritual, esoteric realm. Yoga is a movement meditation. See Yoga “For Jesus” and “Exercise Only” for more information.

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