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Monday, July 20, 2015

Yoga, Breathing Techniques, Mindfulness, and Essential Oils: Are They Okay?

This post is the first part of my research into these popular health practices. Let’s explore them together.

We’ll begin with origins:
  1. Yoga—Hinduism (3,500-4,000 years ago) and Buddhism (2,500 years ago. Buddhism began with Siddhartha Gautama, "the Buddha." Buddhism's roots are in Hinduism.)
  2. Relaxation Breathing Techniques—Buddhism, possibly begun by Buddha himself
  3. Emptying the Mind, TM, Mindfulness, and Meditation—traditional Buddhist practices
  4. Essential Oils—Ancient Egyptians, Indian Hindu Vedic traditions, Persians, Greeks, and Romans all used distilled oils in healing.

By looking at the origins, we can draw at least one conclusion: of the four, only Essential Oils seems not to have religious overtones, except in India. The other practices actually originated with Hinduism or Buddhism.

Let’s take one at a time. We’ll begin with yoga.

Not too long ago, I watched the testimony of a young woman who had done yoga for several years. She says that it is impossible to do the exercises without the breathing and mental part of yoga. She describes an actual buzz she got from doing yoga. It's a long testimony (over an hour), but if you’d like to watch it, you can access it here.

When people do yoga, they’re usually listening to instructions from a leader. Some of these leaders are actually yogis, which are people who have reached a certain level of “spiritual” awareness. He (or she) guides the participants in breathing exercises that enable the movements and positions.

I looked at a web site that specializes in helping people towards joy and self-realization through yoga. It makes the blasphemous statement, “The goal of our . . . practices . . . comes from the Realization in direct experience of the center of consciousness, the Self . . . which is one and the same with the Absolute Reality. This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Adviata Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which complement one another like fingers on a hand. . . . Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the Absolute.”1

The Bible says that God is the only God: 
  • Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else (Deuteronomy 4:39).
  • For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else (Isaiah 45:18).
  • Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else (Isaiah 45:22).

 The Bible teaches that a person should live to Christ and die to self.  
  • I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith (Romans 12:1-3).

Jesus said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself (Luke 10:27). Christianity has nothing to do with fixating on self. It’s about loving God and others.

A former yogi, L. G. Marshall, shares that the word yoga means “union with self” and comes from the Hindu belief that everything is God. There is no distinction between man and God. Man is equal with God. “Yoga was always meant to be imparted by a teacher that stayed with the student for long periods of time. Constantly monitoring, constantly instructing, constantly observing the student. The Indian gurus that teach yoga are always in a disciple/devotee relationship with their students.”2

The Bible says we’re to be guided by the Word of God. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105).

Our minds are to be renewed by Jesus’ words: If so be that ye have heard him (Jesus), and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:21-24).

I watched and read quite a few testimonies from Christians who had done yoga, yoga instructors, and people who have studied yoga. I chose several to share with you. I believe each one will reveal aspects of yoga you may never have known about. I know I learned a lot, and I think you will, too.

For example, did you know that there's a "salute to the sun" series of positions? I didn't. I think you'll be fascinated by listening to what others have to say about their involvement in yoga.

Some interesting testimonies from people who practiced yoga: (Thorough, good information about the principles of yoga.)

As people who love the Lord, it is important to have an understanding of the world around us. I find that here in Europe, yoga is very popular. But, is it something Christians should do?

Please listen to or read some of the testimonies in the links above and share your thoughts in the comments.

(My next post will be about mindfulness and meditation.)

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