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Christian Yoga and Clergy Indirectly Promoting Traditional Yoga

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  • Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
    From: http://www.swamij.com/christian-yoga.htm CHRISTIAN YOGA AND CLERGY INDIRECTLY PROMOTING TRADITIONAL YOGA Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati Whether there is or is
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 25, 2007

      Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati

      Whether there is or is not such a thing as "Christian Yoga," it has
      become a quite controversial topic recently. Many so-called Yoga
      teachers claim that Yoga is just a physical fitness or alternative
      health program, and therefore has no conflict whatsoever with
      Christianity. Meanwhile, many Christians argue that Yoga is a
      religion and should therefore not be practiced in any form by the
      Christian faithful. Still other Christians bridge both of these views
      by creating a new category that they call "Christian Yoga."

      For thousands of years Yoga has been a universal process leading to
      subtle spiritual realization or direct experience, regardless of the
      religious orientation of the practitioner. Many of the principles of
      traditional Yoga are contained in the esoteric or mystical teachings
      of virtually all of the world's most known religions, including not
      only those of the South Asia region, but also those of the Judeo-
      Christian heritage. It has often and correctly been said that Yoga is
      in religion, but that religion is not in Yoga.

      A big part of the confusion about Yoga and "Christian Yoga" stems
      from the fact that modern so-called Yoga teachers and their
      institutions, particularly in America, have significantly distorted
      or devolved the authentic, traditional Yoga of the sages. By
      attempting to reduce Yoga to a mere physical therapy or medical
      treatment, they have effectively thrown out the spiritual roots and
      goals of Yoga.

      Modern Yoga styles and studios emphasize postures. The Sanskrit word
      for posture is "asana" and the root of that is "~as" which means "to
      sit." The Yoga Sutras (ca 2nd century BCE) is one of the most known
      of the ancient texts on traditional Yoga. According to the Yoga
      Sutras, asana or sitting posture is rung three of eight rungs of
      Yoga, and the purpose of that is meditation and the deep absorption
      known as samadhi, rungs seven and eight. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (ca
      15th century CE) is the most known traditional text that describes
      physical postures. Even a glancing overview of that text will quickly
      reveal the true goals of Hatha Yoga as also being the awakening of
      the subtle energy known as kundalini, and the subsequent experience
      of samadhi.

      Ironically, it is the Christians opposed to Yoga who seem to
      indirectly be doing the most in the US to promote the truer meaning
      of Yoga, although it is self-evident that this is not their intent.
      Most of the Christian critics emphasize the orthodox or exoteric
      practices of their religion, and either fail to see, or are opposed
      to the esoteric or mystical roots of their own traditions. Because of
      this, they also either fail to see the utility of traditional Yoga
      for their adherents, or are opposed to it. While they are wrong in
      saying that Yoga itself is a religion, they are most definitely right
      in pointing out the spiritual goals of Yoga.

      The Christian clergy and the followers of Christianity who are most
      outspoken against either Yoga or "Christian Yoga" need to be
      acknowledged and appreciated for doing so much to promote authentic,
      traditional Yoga. They are quite blunt in their descriptions of how
      Yoga is a spiritual practice. While they make the mistake of saying
      that Yoga is a religion, which it is not, Yoga is most definitely
      spiritual in nature. Even the proponents of "Christian Yoga" are
      effectively promoting the authentic spiritual goals of traditional
      Yoga by virtue of the fact that they are attempting to create an
      alternative Yoga, which clearly has a spiritual orientation, although
      theirs is in the context of a specific religion, unlike traditional

      The continued efforts of the Christian clergy opposed to traditional
      Yoga, as well as both the advocates and opponents of "Christian Yoga"
      will bring many fruits for the Yogis and mystics within all of the
      religions active in America. Their efforts will continue to make it
      evermore clear that Yoga truly has to do with mystical, spiritual
      realization, something for which many people have a persistent
      yearning and cannot find in their institutional religions, "Christian
      Yoga" classes, or modern so-called Yoga studios. Though not their
      intent, their convictions will continue to lead many sincere seekers
      of direct experience to the authentic, spiritual methods of
      traditional Yoga.


      Yoga and Institutional Religion

      Mysticism, Yoga, and Religion

      Is Yoga a Religion?

      Modern Yoga and Traditional Yoga

      Yoga and Christianity

      Philosophy, Not Religion
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