Words for Women: Idols


Photo by Harsh Patel via Flickr

One of my Facebook friends posted a link to an article entitled “The Yoga Deception” from Spirit Life Magazine. It was a fascinating article about the danger of Christians becoming unintentionally entrenched in Hindu practices without realizing it, the conclusions of which I don’t necessarily completely agree. But one particular line caught my attention:

I have heard of one Christian who is so entrenched in yoga that they have vowed to never give up yoga even if God himself told them to stop.

It’s a sobering thought, isn’t it? As Christians, we should be so focused on God that it is His will we seek and His will alone. Anything that shifts that focus is an idol.

I’m not saying that Christians shouldn’t practice yoga. I’m a sometimes-practitioner of it myself. I’ve modified my practice for some of the reasons stated in the article because I was uncomfortable with the mantras and will not do transcendental meditation. Most “real” yoga practitioners will say what I do isn’t yoga at all without the spiritual aspects, and that’s fine. I don’t believe there’s any Biblical basis for the idea that putting your body into a particular position can open the floodgates of “bad things” that the writer and Carl Jung seem to hint could happen.

The real danger is more insidious. Anything we make first priority in our lives, whatever we put into that highest place of honor, regardless of how good they may be for us, has the potential to become an idol. Anything we pursue to the exclusion of all else has the potential to divert us from the will of God, whether it be work, family, hobbies…or yoga.

So this is my challenge for myself, and I hope you’ll join me: Where are your priorities today? On what are you focused? Is it time for some change, some realignment in your life towards the things of God and away from things that are merely distractions? If you’re like me, the answer is probably yes.

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  1. Bonnie Doran says:

    I’ve heard this concern before about yoga. I practice yoga with a Christian instructor who adds prayer and a spiritual aspect. I haven’t tried any other classes so I don’t know how entrenched the Hindu content may be.

    • Carla says:

      Yes, it’s not a new concern, but this article is interesting in that the writer seems to think that the asanas themselves can do harm. (I don’t happen to agree with that stance, as I don’t think there is anything inherently evil in a body position.) I do think it’s a danger for those Christians who find themselves replacing their faith with the spiritual and holistic aspects of yoga.

  2. Jennifer Major says:

    Growing up in Vancouver gave me the exposure to ALL KINDS of stuff. Eastern religions were very prevalent and accessible. I don’t do yoga, but I know the spiritual elements can easily undermine one’s faith and add a level of idolatry that is SO subtle!!
    I’m one of those people who seek God when pain is present, so in a way, I am thankful that I’ve been given the opportunity to spend alot of time seeking Him.
    I couldn’t do yoga if you paid me!!

    • Carla says:

      That’s an interesting perspective, Jennifer! Growing up in California, I certainly had the same exposure. I think it’s one of those areas that people need to consider prayerfully. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Jessie Andersen says:

    Wise Words, Carla. I think some Christians can take things like Yoga to the extreme at both ends. Some rid themselves totally with anything that has any pagan backgrounds while others immerse themselves too fully into it. I’m glad you’re broaching the subject with the focus on our priorities, which should be on Jesus Christ.

    • Carla says:

      Thanks, Jessie. I think it’s one of those considerations that people need to approach thoughtfully and prayerfully. I do think if we go too far to either extreme, we miss the real message of grace and freedom in Christ.

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