yoga and christianity p.II

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up at 5am and can’t get back to sleep. maybe it’s really time to get this entry sorted out and put together right here. how should i begin?i first got intrigued by yoga when i was around 15 and was curious and got interested in new age stuff. i took an interest in wicca, tarot reading, the supernatural, lucid dreaming and had a rather curious and dark interest in the gothic. anything that was of the supernatural and unknown i’m in. well not in as in i dabbled in them. i read about them, i talked to fellow-minded people but never really made any of those love potions (as you can find in witchcraft books) nor dressed gothic for that matter. and naturally, i took a mental note of yoga as well as i’ve seen lots of writing relating it as a spiritual path. i guess it is safe to say that right from the start, i’ve been seeking out my own spiritual journey and trying to understand what spirituality is all about. being brought up in a free thinking family with buddhist grandparents, anything that closely resembled spirituality was going to the temples and praying for good health and academic results. yet spirituality always felt something deeper within than asking the gods to give me something that may not last.

as a superb procrastinator, it was needless to say that i took a good 5-6 years to finally explore my spiriitual path. i finally decided to try out yoga classes (i did hatha yoga) at the local community club and loved it. that period of my life also happened be a time whereby i was trying to decide my career path. as i could never see myself settle for a 9-5 job ever and i could always see myself working in passion and the love for yoga seems potentially great enough, it made me decide to give a yoga teacher training course a shot. in any case, it will be a useful skill and also a way to understand WHY yoga is a spiritual path for many. it seems to me that yoga had 2 prongs to it – physical and spiritual benefit and i was even more curious as to why.

my first teacher training was with the Vivekananda Yoga Centre, situated at Frankel Avenue (Singapore). it was a one month intensive course where you pretty much had to be there every day. my second teacher training course was with Svastha’s Diploma in Teaching the Science and Art of Yoga. Svastha Yoga is developed by A.G. Mohan who is a reputable teacher and yogi in the yoga circle. It was a year and a half diploma course. I was serious enough to decide to go through that anyway. Anyhow, around 4 months into the course, I came to Christ and couldn’t quite go on with the course anymore. what bothered me was a summation of these and probably some other misc. stuff that I left out:

1. In order to obtain my full certification for the first course, I had to chalk up some teaching hours, which I did. I gave a free class at a local theatre production house and had this particular student who was open to trying yoga for the first time. Upon going into relaxation, where students will most likely lie down in Savasana (also known as Corpse pose) and relax all their muscles, this student (I shall call R) said she went to a ‘place’ where she could hear me saying things but didn’t know what I was saying (all I did was cue them what to do during the breathing). R said she started seeing flashes of images (which she cannot recollect what they are) and the only thing she could remember seeing was a pair of bue eyes. It was harder to get her out of the relaxation state I remember but sometimes people fall asleep during relaxation and that’s normal. I went to her to tap her gently and she did get up and was able to share this with me. Having taught her from the angle of physical benefits and possibly spiritual connectivity with the self, I was disturbed. Although this bit of information may or may not matter to you, she is Catholic and she said she’s done some form of meditation before and never had such an experience. In her own rational thinking, she explained that perhaps it was because I called the pose as ‘Corpse pose’ and she had gone through a miscarriage before (and the baby ought to have blue eyes). Side note: If any doctor/psychiatrist is reading this, I do hope to have your comment on this from a medical point of view, if any.

2. I sent out 2 emails after that incident. One, to Vivekananda Yoga Centre. Another, to the course teacher in charge then, M. Agarwal. I was a student trying to fulfill the course criteria and obviously I had a legitimate question that required some answering. NEITHER REPLIED (and I mean up till today). One of my course mate recommended me to talk to this yoga teacher who has around 27 years of experience in yoga teaching and she provided me with these instructions: before the start of your class, imagine a triangle of light around your students and this light comes from the sun. ground your students. imagine that roots are growing from the bottom of the ground and going into the students and visualise a full cycle. the triangle is supposed to protect the students from the negative energy in the place and and grounding visualisation is supposed to keep them grounded (spiritually??) to where they are at their practice. equipped with no other means or explanation for that matter, i tried that. still, i didn’t feel qualified enough. i didn’t feel like i know enough. i didn’t know enough to protect my students, provide any explanation but merely hochpoch solutions that are made up by who knows who. i mean, whoever actually said that burning a charm/talisman, mixing it with water and drinking it will drive demons out of a person? Some god? Yet that’s what some people seem to do through Taoist mediums in exorcism. Where did they get their basis of spiritual knowledge from? The lack of answers seemed to reveal to me that people are FIGURING their way out in yoga and it’s not as scientific as they claim to be.

3. Midway through the Svastha course and considering quitting on it (and being very new to the Christian faith too), I spoke to Indra Mohan about my discomfort when it comes to the meditation portion of yoga. Her response was: meditate on the name of Jesus. Honestly it seemed like good sense when she said it but something in me just won’t click. And through my further research later on, I realise that this is the sort of answers that yoga provides Christians simply because yoga has such strong ties with Hindu (all paths lead to one God; Jesus is one of the avatar/incarnation of God on earth) that it makes absolute sense to replace one God (the one universal force) with another (in this case, Jesus).

4. Going through the courses covers the philosophy of yoga which is closely linked with Hinduism. Enough said.

Having shared all this (if you made it this far!), I still practised yoga. I went for classes. I went for some workshops. and perhaps most of all it was a struggle for me to give it up because I start going out with a guy from my yoga course (because everything seemed right and made sense EXCEPT God did wave a red flag in the form of a receipt in my face prior to making such a decision). Even though I was struggling with whether yoga is leading me astray from what I feel is the spiritually right path, I never gave it all up until the relationship was over and I’m completely honest here because there is no point in being otherwise. I will not be blogging about it if I didn’t decide that hey this is gonna benefit somebody out there and that somebody needs to read this right now.

I know of Christians who wonder about yoga and struggle with coming to a right and wrong about it. I know a Christian who runs a fitness company that has yoga because she loves yoga and can’t give it up and scrap it off the schedules because there are many outlets and the demand is too high on these classes. The dollop she’ll lose out on is very real. Yet even she is starting to sense that it ain’t gonna go with her faith. I know of good Christians who see no wrong in teaching it or going for classes because yoga is very beneficial physically. And even though some may think I’m too harsh in saying that it is a spiritually wrong path, I do believe that in terms of morals, values and spirituality, there is only light and darkness, no inbetween.

I’m not quite done with this topic. I gave too much of my love and time into this and having come this far, the least I could do is share it with others who are equally keen to have an intellectual discourse and to develop a keener spiritual discernment towards what is of light and what is of darkness. and maybe it is appropriate to close with a prayer for as I blog about this, I’m learning something the value of being ok with my past mistakes, being firm on making what I feel is the right decision and non-compromise on my morals, values and spirituality.

Dear Father in Heaven, thank You for Your light in each and every one of our lives. Thank You for giving us a sense of right and wrong and may You be the ultimate navigator as we discern what’s right and wrong in Your sight. May You open our eyes and hearts and spirits to shun what is of the darkness because nothing is grey in your sight and there is no spiritual void in this world. We cling onto You as You are our good Shepherd so lead us and call us and draw us ever closer to You. in Jesus’s most precious name I pray, AMEN.

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4 thoughts on “yoga and christianity p.II

  1. Oh bless you for posting this. Bless you, bless you, bless you.

    “I know of Christians who wonder about yoga and struggle with coming to a right and wrong about it.”

    This is me.

    I used to do yoga only as exercise. I grew up in a Christian home, but I never “got it” until about 5 years ago. I was 29 then, and I couldn’t make yoga work anymore. I was never very happy about the “spiritual” side of it, and when I finally TRULY gave my life up to God, I could not keep doing yoga, even if it didn’t mean anything to me spiritually.

    My sis and I were talking just yesterday about whether or not we could do yoga and be Christians. I think for ME, the answer is no. I don’t believe that it’s OK for me. What if I led someone into believing it was OK for themselves when it wasn’t? That means I caused them to stumble and that’s just not OK.

    I’ve only just read the two “yoga” posts here on your blog, but I intend to read more and bookmark you if it’s OK.

    Thanks again for your views on this topic.

  2. What great insight. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I’ve heard of so called “Christian Yoga” and had to wonder if that was really possible. Like Jayleigh, I intend to come back and look forward to reading more of your blog.
    Melissa

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