Wow what a post of a post. I read the article and the divergent comments by other readers that followed it.
It is really quite sad on several fronts.
Ignorance: ah it truly is bliss. Yoga is not religion. Some religions do incoporate yoga just as some religions incoporate prayer but they do not have exclusive rights to prayer as a result of incorporating it. In that way, yoga is not exclusive to hindus but Hinduism may include it.
Zealots are well read: but they typically use their knowledge to disempower, discredit, and discourage. A guru is not some pastor’s wife who gives classes in Florida. What we have here is a failure to communicate. The sanskrit for guru translates as light shiner. In that definition we are all gurus. Classically speaking however we’re talking about renunciates.
Fear: Yoga leads to the occult? Let’s discuss. Occult comes from Latin occultus (hidden) and usually refers to astrology, casting spells, and magic (so of course David Copperfield and Dionne Warwick are both occult followers). Even if I stretch the passage (I’m using Deu: 18:10-11 from the Torah) there isn’t a correlation to Yoga even when it is not “just exercise” which, by the by, isn’t Yoga at all. And, even if there were a direct reference the passage states that the Lord will drive them out, not some woman with a digital camera and a paranoid-schizophrenia complex. Uh leave the Lord’s work to the Lord.
The Vedas predate most of these texts which means, chronologically speaking they were first. In fact recent data indicates the Vedas may be close to 20,000 years old. And yet there is no specific mention of yoga (even though it is commonly accepted that Jesus spent time in India) as a discipline to be avoided (or partaken).
Insanity-defined: What is the current track record of organized religion? I think it’s a very fair question. What is the state of the planet in the approximately 3,000 years of the Bible? My point is that something is not working properly. We should be very concerned about our own evolution and we should, as a result of that concern do something other than worry about eight women in leotards visualizing “love and light”.
I believe that there are a lot of people who are simply afraid of life and death, and cannot handle ambiguity. They have to believe that there is ONE RIGHT ANSWER or their brains will explode. It is precisely those sorts of people who become fundamentalist in their thinking, whether it's fanatical in a Christian sense or in any other religion. Yoga threatens precisely because it opens minds and stops people from thinking rigidly. If you do spend enough time around yoga in a spiritual sense, you are indeed likely going to find the rigid belief system of a conservative or fundamentalist Christian doctine to be off-putting. So yes, yoga is dangerous - dangerous to closed minds.
I liked one comment that said "Oh brother. I have little tolerance for those whose faith is challenged by yoga of all things"
But you have to understand that most modern Christians believe that their religion was faxed to earth from God, that god and humans are seperate, believe in dualism, and that satan is trying to steal their souls through all sorts of fancy and attractive, yet deceitful, routes. Nevermind that money and things are the modern day "idols," nevermind that people want to catch-phrase the Bible and espouse ideas they don't really live up to. Yoga philosophy is contrary to their belief system because it is not dualistic. That's about it. So yoga is not a religion, but doesn't fit in with theirs, or at least not to orthodox believers. Of course I believe that yoga enhances ANY religous or spiritual view, just as I believe that yoga and religion are not at odds with each other, and that the philosophy of yoga demands that you live up to higher standards than simply "catch phrasing" the beliefs. It's an inward destination and so contrary to the outward moving energies of most people. Whether people "believe" in yoga or not, it is all there is. Yoga is everything and everything is yoga.
Thanks for pointing all this out, Gordon. I couldn't agree with you more. It's interesting to me that ignorant people even associate yoga with organized religion. Technically, Hinduism only became an "organized" religion when Eurocentric scholars landed in the East and attempted to pull all these disparate gods and ideas into one cohesive system of thought--so if you really think about it, yoga predates religion and transcends belief. (And I agree with Candice here--it upends the dualistic, good/bad concepts that are so often the blight of religious thought.) I'd be willing to bet that even though there isn't any documented history of this, yoga was taking root in various parts of the world at the same time as it was in India (the universality of disparate cultures' experiences would seem to point to this). But you can't very well argue with insanity. It's just really sad to me that some people are so fixated on the idea of a localized universal truth that they feel the need to discredit something that has empowered and enlightened for millennia. It's also strange to me that modern Christians are such naysayers considering all the speculation that the missing years of Jesus' life in the Bible were actually spent in India, picking up wisdom from all those "sinful" yogis. :)
Wow, this is very sad. This week in my yoga class we were asked to keep in mind the concept of Compassion. Incongruous with Christianity? Not sure abou that. Yoga is just like running, knitting, or gardening. It gets you to your quiet place so that you can practice whatever religion you choose - or not. It's also fantastic for your body! It makes everything work so much better! I don't know all the history, but I know yoga is amazing for my health.