Christian leader: Avoid yoga!

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler says that Christians shouldn't do yoga. Mohler told the Associated Press that it's not good to think that "the body is a vehicle for reaching consciousness with the divine." Of course, yoga practitioners, including Christian ones, vocally disagree. The controversy started with an essay titled "The Subtle Body – Should Christians Practice Yoga?" that Mohler posted on his blog late last month. Yesterday, Mohler responded to his critics with another post, titled "Yahoo, Yoga, and Yours Truly." Now, it's worth noting that Mohler's organization isn't a fringe group. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is the country's oldest seminary affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, and is apparently one of the largest theological seminaries of any kind in the world. From the Associated Press:
Mohler argued in his online essay last month that Christians who practice yoga "must either deny the reality of what yoga represents or fail to see the contradictions between their Christian commitments and their embrace of yoga."

He said his view is "not an eccentric Christian position."

Other Christian leaders have said practicing yoga is incompatible with the teachings of Jesus. Pat Robertson has called the chanting and other spiritual components that go along with yoga "really spooky." California megachurch pastor John MacArthur called yoga a "false religion." Muslim clerics have banned Muslims from practicing yoga in Egypt, Malaysia and Indonesia, citing similar concerns.

"Southern Baptist leader nixes yoga for Christians"


  1. I listen to a Fundamentalist Christian podcast called “Rapture Ready Radio” (for kicks) and they HATE Yoga.

  2. I have a co-worker who is deeply conservative Christian, who attended seminary college. (In this case, Methodist.) He told me, in no uncertain terms, that meditating is dangerous because if you open your mind up, any sort of demon could enter.

    He was serious. It helped me to see that, despite it’s status as a “mainstream” religion, (certain) Christians believe in demons and witchcraft just as much as any Wiccan.

    Christians who fear other religions do so not because they don’t think something’s there, but because they fear there might be.


    1. It helped me to see that, despite it’s status as a “mainstream” religion, (certain) Christians believe in demons and witchcraft just as much as any Wiccan.

      ~raises hand~ As a Wiccan, I’d like to respectfully point out that we’ve never believed in ‘demons’ the way that Christians have always believed in demons. And that their idea of witchcraft (summoning Satan) and my idea of witchcraft (worshipping Nature) is really, really not the same thing at all.

    1. Back when I did practice tai chi, I was told on a couple occasions (by “Christians” of course) that it was somehow deeply wrong.

      Since I did not take them seriously enough to listen carefully to their complaints, I can’t tell you why they believed that, just that they did.

  3. I teach yoga upon occasion…I don’t believe in charging money for it so it’s not something that puts food on my table…I agree with this man, not to say we would get along or would

    Liking something that makes you feel nice isn’t a theological justification of that practice. No matter how far people make their yoga stray from a spiritual practice, it remains at root a spiritual/religious practice…it doesn’t matter if you never meditate and heat the room to hundreds of degrees. People are pretty up in arms about this and I’m not really sure why. My advice to christians who love yoga is to keep doing it, but accept there may be some clashes between it and your faiths ideology…but there are plenty of christian capitalist out there and I would say this is a lot easier to make an honest peace with.

  4. Seems like St. Teresa of Avila and plenty of other Christian mystics would consider “the body [as] a vehicle for reaching consciousness with the divine” perfectly compatible with Christian doctrine… Turnabout, how is the mortification of the flesh substantially different from the practices of Hindu or Buddhist asceticism?

  5. Can’t open your mind to know god.

    Can’t use your body.

    Mohler said he objects to “the idea that the body is a vehicle for reaching consciousness with the divine.”

  6. I can see the future of religion. There will be a book written that will include dumb ass crap like this, and people will abide by it because it was written in this book. Today’s crazy talk is the futures religion.

  7. I encourage any reader who assumes the worst — that this is merely xenophobic and insular spouting — to be sure that you read Mohler’s article before forming judgments about it.

    Whether one accepts or rejects his argument, he’s theologically on strong ground. His essential argument is 1) yoga cannot be completely divorced from its spiritual history and context, and 2) its context and goals are alien to basic mainstream Christian theology as it has existed for the last thousand years. I would argue that both of these claims are clearly true.

    When HH the Dalai Lama argues that most people should remain within their formative religious traditions and not mix and match, observing that there are fundamental differences between different spiritual approaches, he generates no controversy or charges of bigotry. I think what we have here is a substantially similar claim.

    I would argue with many of the details of his reading of the history of yoga, particularly Mohler’s claim that yoga traditions seek union with God through the body. Perhaps some do, but the Rajayoga expounded by Patanjali’s Yogasutra most certainly does not. It is a vehemently dualistic tradition that asserts a complete separation between body and mind.

    I do not agree that Christians should not do yoga, but I do agree that people should be thoughtful about what they’re doing and why, and not approach spiritual practice as a smorgasbord. What Mohler sees as the chaos of postmodern relativism, I see as a lack of reflection.

    1. Really, I’d argue just the opposite; in this case the Dalai Lama is just protecting his revenue stream. Traditions are made by people, for people, a ‘one size fits all’ option for individuals who are far more complicated than that.

  8. Nothing particularly new here; I remember, sometime in the early 1980s, being dragged by a friend to a Christianist movie that “exposed” Star Wars (and especially the idea of “The Force”) as insidious Hindu propaganda.

    1. “Nothing particularly new here….”

      A-men! (pun intended) I guess I kind of take it for granted, having spent 23 years in Texas (and a substantial fraction of them not far from the seminary in question). Time was you couldn’t buy model glue (a toy) on a Sunday, assuming the place of business was allowed to be open on Sunday.

  9. Lobster,

    For the record, Transubstantiation is a Roman Catholic thing, and fundy Christians like the guy from the article don’t believe in it.
    Catholics != Fundamentalist

    1. Catholics != Fundamentalist

      And from the point of view of most fundamentalists:

      Catholic != Christian

      (Seriously, whenever someone wants to start evangelizing me and ask me if I’m “a Christian,” I usually just say “no, I’m Catholic” and they leave me alone.)

      The is also germane to Anon #5’s comment (“Seems like St. Teresa of Avila and plenty of other Christian mystics…”). The Fundamentalists tend to hate Catholic mystics and saints a lot more than they hate Catholics.

  10. This is the same flavor of the same misguided religious nonsense that has happening for the last 2000 years, we as a species have advanced materially by leaps and bounds but the amazing thing is that spiritually we are still barbarians.

  11. I worked at a Methodist organisation for six years and found them to be great, helpful, open minded people. But even the Methodist church near to me here in the UK has banned yoga being practised there. Completely bonkers.

  12. Is good to see Christians and Muslims can agree on something. Too bad it’s always fear and/or hatred of another group, be it Jews or Yoga practitioners.

    1. Many orthodox Jews have similar concerns with Yoga, since it has roots in or similarities to idol worship. They don’t think Yoga particpants are engaged in idol worship necessarily but there is a Jewish rule to avoid even the appearance of idol worship.

      Meditation is a different issue. Jews have practised forms of meditation for thousands of years, they just haven’t advertised that. See Aryeh Kaplan, Meditation and the Bible.

  13. In my experience and practice Yoga has simply be been a discipline of stretching with controlled breathing.

    You can tell me that I cannot divorce that from its spiritual background all you want, but saying so won’t make it true. Maybe we should just call what I do “stretching with breathing.”

    Also, the purpose for meditation has always just been to relax. Period.

    Even without Western influence, there are different interpretations within the discipline, even different disciplines. Who’s to say there can’t be more? A Christian Yoga? An Athiest Yoga?

    I’m not claiming anyone else’s views on this as racist without further context. But this argument strikes me as just downright silly.

  14. Someone should warn him about the growing popularity of other heretical exercise regimes, like Pontius’ Pilates.

  15. Christianity could really learn a thing or two from Jainism.

    Specifically that whole part about not dealing in absolutes.

    So if you are a practicing Christian, you should beware of the spiritual roots of Yoga, as it is based, within Buddhism/Jainism?

    Why? Because it might conflict with the “rules” of Christianity?

    Even if the practicing Christian decides that their severity of faith might differ ever so slightly from another Christian?

    lol @ Christianity.

  16. @15: “Christianity could really learn a thing or two from Jainism. Specifically that whole part about not dealing in absolutes.”

    Not dealing with absolutes? Jainism is the poster child for absolutes. That’s why you have Jains to this day sweeping the ground in front of them as they walk, lest they accidentally step on an insect.

    “So if you are a practicing Christian, you should beware of the spiritual roots of Yoga, as it is based, within Buddhism/Jainism?”

    Classical yoga is based on neither Buddhism nor Jainism, but Samkhya.

    1. A few monks not wanting to kill bugs has absolutely no effect on the Jains and non Jains around them.

      Large swaths of Christians telling other Christians and non Christians how to live their lives, both spiritually and morally, has the effect of making them look like hypocritical, absolutist idiots.


  17. I think the problem (in many instances) the traditional Christian antagonism for “the body,” which seems based in the Adam and Eve story when the apple is taken as a metaphor for sexual relations. And everything builds from there.

    As I recall from teaching comparative world religions, the early Catholic church undermined the resurrection of the body, by saying that Jesus’ body was just a temporary thing because He was part of a unified spirit-based trinity. So many assumptions there.

    Most unfortunate. I wonder if people studied metaphors in their English classes a little harder, they might realize that other interpretations are possible and acceptable. Including, in this case, literal interpretations.

    So many conservative Christians believe in the absolute infallibility of the Bible in its most straightforward, literal sense, yet assume these two conjectures as being the obvious and only possible truth.

    For example, the rapid rise of the LDS church (the actual religion, not the polygamist wahoos) is largely based on literal interpretations of those two stories, thus, the body is good, a person is a whole being (spirit + body = soul) and yoga would probably great fun for a women’s Saturday activity.

    Then again, LDS people’s take on beliefs in regards to final judgement (we will be judged by whatever we actually believe) isn’t that far off from Hindus (all religions are just different rivers leading to the same ocean), so perhaps the yoga thing shouldn’t be that surprising.

    1. Catholics think Jesus is an equal part of the divine trinity, but the official position is that he had a fully human nature, too.

  18. Makes perfect sense. The more people do things like yoga, or qigong, or running, or whatever else to renew their acquaintance with their bodies, the less they live in fear, the less use they have for authority. That’s bad for business, if you’re in the business of telling people what to believe.

  19. Granted, a certain amount of bias exists in the article in question.
    “don’t mix and match religions” — Aren’t we all looking for the divine, I.E. doing the same thing in a different way?

    “Yoga is inextricably rooted in spiritual practice” — Except that even Krishnamacharya, one of the founders of what is recognisable as modern yoga said that in order for yoga to become “a vehicle for all people” that religious connotations had to be removed.

    Yes, it came directly from the Vedic texts… But the form that is practiced Now is no more a Vedic tradition than Giving children toy guns at Christmas is a Pagan Tradition.

    Yes, giving presents at the solstice has been done for a long time.
    Yes, some of those poses have been done for a long time.

    Absolutely everything else around and about them have changed… The spiritual connotation especially in the hands of modern americans. I am sure depending on where you’re standing and who you’re talking to, you get a different experience of Yoga. I am sure that some people have done more to preserve the Spiritual Roots of Yoga as a tradition in their practice.

    But there are many who have only the goals of flexibility and relaxation in mind. There are many who see it merely as a form of exercise.

    What you Put In is What you Get out. It would probably never even occur to some people that there is anything in Yoga that has anything to do with spiritual practice. So they’re probably not going to have any spiritual experience with it, Or change any beliefs because of it.

    And whatever happened to that whole “Your body is your temple” thing?

  20. LOL! It’s always such fun when one woowoo quackaduck points hostile fingers at other woowoo quackaducks.

    “Your make believe festive ritual of silly is evil!”

    “No it isn’t! Your make believe festive ritual of silly is evil!”





    … ad infinitum

  21. he’s theologically on strong ground.

    If by theology, you mean manual of social control techniques. The lion snacks are worried that a little relaxation and mind-opening might lead their cash cow minions to question the social order that keeps their leadership in Cadillacs, MacMansions and delicious, delicious rent boys.

    Any religious philosophy that says that you should limit your awareness comes from the infernal realm, not the divine one.

    1. @30: What kind of half-baked hippiespeak is that supposed to be?

      “Theology” is an actual discipline with an actual history, as are “Christianity” and “Yoga”. It’s not bigotry to say they have fundamental points of disagreement.

      It’s obvious you didn’t read my words — did you at least read Mohler’s?

      1. I read your words. What I didn’t do is accept the cramped, crippling, little paradigm that you tried to squeeze the discussion into. You’re espousing dogma. It’s particularly ironic that you invoked the idea of xenophobia given that xenophobia and dogma have been BFFs since the dawn of time.

      2. “‘Theology’ is an actual discipline with an actual history, as are ‘Christianity’ and ‘Yoga’.”

        Christianity is a “discipline“? Yoga definitely, and I can see how the argument could be made for theology (though I doubt Mohler’s students at the SBTC are encouraged to pursue it with the rigor implied by such a label, lest they educate themselves into unbelief), but how does such a heterogeneous belief system as Christianity, with its divergent texts and diverse practices arising from an endless string of schisms, qualify as a “discipline”?

        1. Of course theology is a discipline. How else are you going to study something that can’t be proven to exist, for years, and keep a straight face about it? Belief is hard work, believe me. I tried.

  22. At a point in history with our world facing war, genocide, environmental destruction and a host of other moral dilemmas; I’m glad to see someone in the Church with the intestinal fortitude to bring this very important issue to the forefront. Albert Mohler is clearly a man who has his priorities in order. Yoga, or pagan calisthenics, is corrupting our youth and spreading misery across our nation and the world. Downward dog is nothing but a downward spiral to hell. Also Pilates. Don’t do those either. Pontius Pilate. See?

  23. My first yoga teacher (40 years ago) was Calculus professor and author George Thomas, who was also a Methodist minister from Texas.

  24. I was invited to attend church with a friend, and went along just to be polite. I can’t describe anything as disturbing as the people waving their hands in the air, singing trance-like about ‘the blood of the lamb’. You want to talk about ‘spooky’?

    I’ll take the yoga, thank you.

  25. Fear not, authentic Indian from India is here to help you figure out what Yoga is all about.

    Hinduism was and is meant to be a civilization, a way of life, not a religion. Hence, Hindus get to redefine what important stuff like Karma, Punarjanma and Moksha mean, because the passage of time might make old definitions irrelevant or inconvenient. It’s the same with Yoga. Hindus today think of Yoga as little more than a form of physical exercise. Yoga is not considered a part of religion and hence there are no issues if non Hindus choose to do Yoga.

    Those who think Yoga is about spirituality or connecting with God are numerically insignificant and part of the fringe, not the mainstream. Unfortunately, when it comes to importing elements of Hindu culture, the West often relies on manuals and scriptures which were popular hundreds or thousands of years ago, or poor summaries of the same.

    Since Hindus have effectively abandoned Yoga to the sphere of secular culture, people believing in other gods do not need to worry about its Hindu origin. The problem is that some people are either don’t know that Hinduism changes with time, or they choose to describe the Yoga of today with adjectives suitable only to the Yoga of the past which was arguably closely linked to Hindu ideas of spirituality.

    1. The problem is that yoga has become part of the mumbo-jumbo sprouted by New Age practitioners everywhere in the Western World (but more so in the US).

      They mix and match all kind of pseudo religious and spiritual concepts which confuse the heck out of other whackos like religious people of all stripes.

  26. What is the problem here?
    Yoga teaches a spirital vew that is wholly inconsistent with any sort of mainstream view of Christianit, drwaing upon Buddhism for instance.
    Yes, some Christians do Yoga and Christianity, but we all have inconsistencies in our beliefs.
    The Biblical creation is inconsistent with geology and astrophysics, but these also are believed by many Christians.

    Note that I’m not saying which is right, maybe the teachings of Yoga are right, maybe Dr Mohler, maybe Stephen Hawking, maybe my friend in the pub.
    But they are not consistent.

    That’s why it is odd for you to paint this man as anything but someone as anything other than someone who noticed that Yoga is a competing belief system.
    The only criticism I might find is that he seems to saying something that anyone with a passing understanding of both systems (like me) noticed more than 30 years ago.

    So it is in no way surprising that someone who does religion for a living has noticed that.

    What is surprising is that the writer makes the claim that this is one of the oldest seminaries in the world…
    He may not be aware that the ‘world’ includes places that were Christian 1,000 years before America was discovered.

  27. “Members of the congregation, don’t do yoga – body postures, mental focus, and breathing techniques are the antithesis of what Christianity is all about. Now, let’s all fold our hands* and bow our heads in prayer** to Jesus Christ***…”

    A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. These Christians engage in a practice that, when described in Hindu / Indian / Sanskrit, is bhakti yoga, also known by the English term “What Would Jesus Do?”. Their prayer asana are fundamentally the same as anyone else’s prayer asana.

    The kind of nonsense — racist, insecure, paranoid, idiotic nonsense — spouted by the head of the SBTS is, when taken to the logical conclusion, the stance that Christians should not stretch before getting out of bed, should stop breathing slowly, never stop to reflect before acting, and should ignore the pains in their bodies and trust that Jesus/God will fix them.

    *Mudra, the hand positions that the faithful use to evoke frames of mind / thoughts / energies / mind states / virtues.
    *Bhakti-yoga – a personal relationship with an avatar (anthropomorphic manifestation of God on Earth) of God. Your Own Personal Jesus. See also the seventeen thousand variations on “Why, in the most trying parts of my life, were there only one set of footsteps in the sand, o Lord?”

    1. “Why, in the most trying parts of my life, were there only one set of footsteps in the sand, o Lord?”


      I think that quote from Jesus was somewhere in Revelation.

  28. *chuckle* Why in the world would I have to divorce myself of yoga’s spiritual side? It’s not like I’ve invested it with any belief system other than relaxation and exercise.

    So what’s the problem of relaxation and exercise and Christianity or any other religion for that matter?

  29. Theology debates aside, the SBC is as much a political force as it is a religious one. I think it is telling to see just how many mega-churches are associated with the SBC

    These are the type of people who argue against government overreach and then turn around and seek to limit people’s freedom on their own much more zealous terms. Mohler’s article(s) is(are) a case in-point.

  30. My local meditation group was looking for a new place to practice and were checking out all the local possible venues including churches.

    The woman they spoke to from the Methodist church freaked. Said that meditiation was bad ‘because it could let the devil in’.

    I guess the whole “Be still and know that I am God” thing passed her and all the rest of them by.

    Meanwhile, in the darkest jungles they think that some illness is caused by a witch who must be burned.

    White civilized folk are just as stupid.

  31. The above cites Albert Mohler, Pat Robertson, John Macarthur, and Muslim, in my line of Christianity (Wesleyan and Emerging/Missional) all ofthe above are fringe groups of their respective denominations/religions.

    Mohler is consistently becoming the figurehead of a conservative reaction to political and religious changes in America, but the fact is he is still reactionary, and not actually a progressive Christian force. Just another conservative, while the real progressive and Jesus-like people (Gabe Lyons, Dan Kimball, Rob Bell, Francis Chan, Greg Boyd, Shane Claiborne, etc.) are ignored.

    1. Agree. Amongst mainstream Catholics and Protestants in the U.S. who are aware of him, Mohler is widely known as a reactionary, extremist-conservative crank. Hopefully, non-Christian readers won’t make the mistake in believing that he somehow speaks for all of my co-religionists in any, authoritative manner. Really folks, he’s just another predictable, conservative Southern Baptist – nothing more.

      Oh, BTW – my bog standard Episcopal church has a Zen meditation group. The existence of which I’m sure would give this guy violent facial tics. ;)

    2. Anon # 49,

      Based on a quick skimming of some websites, the Progressives you list seem like real stand-up guys and very admirable. Thanks for the tip, because, even if this atheist is never going to sign up for your religion, I can get behind doing good works. Also, it helps to be reminded that there are good Christians out there. You may scoff at that statement, but we sure do not see a lot of the good guys in the news these days.

      They are not the public face of modern Christianity. The extreme right wing freaks get all the headlines and seem to be moving the center to the right, as in the political landscape.

      I’m afraid you guys need to police your own. If these shitweasels are making heinous statements in the name of Christianity, your team has to be just as noisy and raise a stink every time. You have to be REALLY LOUD and VISIBLE about fighting against homophobia, sexism, superstition, repression of sexual freedom, racism, censorship, the intrusion of biblical mythology into mainstream public schools especially in the sciences and into scientific research and all of that.

      Turning the other cheek is all well and good. But if you aren’t going to stand up in a big public way about the right wing Christain wackadoodles, you can hardly fault David and the rest of us for seeing the fundies as flag bearers for Christianity.

      Do, please, fight hard and neutralize these guys politically and socially. They are, in a way, a Christian problem. And I think offsetting the damage they do and the image they present, would be a top priority for progressives.

      I would really like just to go my atheist way, never have another conversation about this kind of stupidity and hatred and greed and viciousness and toxic self-serving crap ever again. And if Christians were all about altruism and compassion and personal growth, I could rest easy and not feel the need to spread the atheistic word. It would be nice to think of religion as something benign. As it stands, I can’t.

      I’m so sick of the religious stupidity. I’m so sick of reading about modern-day human beings who have shut off their brains and act like superstitious savages out of the dark ages. They need to STFU and go away so that responsible grown ups can go about their business and try to themselves and their planet from, as was pointed out early in the thread, genocide and war and environmental catastrophe.

      And yeah, do a little yoga without harassment.

    3. Glad you mentioned Dan Kimball as a force for good. He is one of my oldest and dearest friends, and a sincere person.

  32. I think their view is correct. They should not practice Yoga.

    They should also not use any technology invented since the time that their religious doctrine was created, nor should they use any of those things that their leaders have opposed over the centuries.

    This includes computer, the internet, printed books, modern medicine, vaccines, anesthesia and pain medicine, mixed fibers and polyester blends, the internal combustion engine, the airplane, and millions of other devices invented despite their wholehearted opposition.

    They can still use the fire, the wheel and the lever, but it has to be made out of wood.

  33. What’s even funnier is that in the esoteric/mystic community, it’s pretty widely believed that Jesus’s ‘lost years’ were spent in India studying yoga. But Christianity and Jesus parted company about two millennia ago.

    1. Wrong. His lost years were spent partying in LA with Harry Nilsson and heckling the Smothers Brothers.

  34. I’m sorry I missed the yoga class at my Methodist church last night. They’re pretty popular.

  35. Don’t forget the Orthodox Jews are against this too. In their language they refer to it as “strange worship”.

    Let me assure you athletes can get by quite nicely without it.

  36. It took 50(!) comments for someone to give a comical reason to avoid yoga?

    Mine was ‘I avoid yoga because the bikram style my friends go to is really too damn hot, so drippingly sweaty and everyone is in better shape then me.’

    As to the dogmatic, the existential, the spiritual connotations in these arguments here, I can only quote (St.) Mayfield, who said: “If there’s Hell below. . .we’re ALL gonna go.”

  37. Having only this year embraced atheism, the novelty of Christian fundamentalism is still there for me. Isn’t it strange to Christians there there is a hell of a lot that you can’t do, but hardly ever do you see an article about what you can do?

  38. It would seem to me that Yoga is quite compatible with Christianity, Islam and Judaism, for is it not true that the body is the temple of god? So by maintaining the temple you are honoring god
    You don’t need blinkered religious leaders, for the reality is that a person who comes to you and says I am your leader is a liar and a false prophet, for there are no leaders, but teachers instead. You will not listen to a fool if he cannot teach you math, so why would you listen to a fool whose utterances make you question his wisdom? You don’t need made up rules. All you need is your religious text, a resolution to live by it and a strong dose of common sense and you will do right by your god.

  39. In the Eastern Orthodox church there is a practice very similar to yoga, revolving around continual inner chanting of “The Jesus Prayer”

    And although Christian leaders like to claim that it is distinct from yoga, once you look into it you can see that basically it’s the same, and the Church is just parsing words to claim it’s something different and uniquely “Christian.”

  40. Yoga, Pilates are already banned in Malaysia by the government. Football jerseys are also banned (following a football team is seen as possible idolatry).

    Oh also movies that are banned at some point there include:
    Space Jam
    Babe 2: A pig in the city

    1. uhh, you need to get your fact checked.

      yoga is not banned in malaysia – the islamic council issued a fatwa that its prohibited for muslims to practice yoga. if you’re non-muslim you are free to practice it.

      pilates has never been banned nor were it ever under scrutiny.

      football jerseys are not banned – the islamic council also issued a fatwa prohibiting muslims wearing religious symbol of others eg crosses.

      the fatwas are not enforced by the government, but are issued merely as guidelines for muslims so they do not have any doubt on what they are doing.

      and the movies were banned for showing animated porcine characters as the authorities at that time deemed it too sensitive to be shown in cinemas. you can still buy it legally in vhs/dvd/bluray format as that is considered private viewing.

      1. “pilates has never been banned nor were it ever under scrutiny.”

        Good old Pontius Pilates, he’ll never be approved by the church.

  41. Christians bad mouthing yoga.

    This strikes me as another “Macys vs. Gimbels” case, i.e. they’re bad mouthing the competition in order to prevent some of their customers from going across the street and trying another provider of spiritual services.

    Not too far off from Scientology’s scathing hatred of psychologists, methinks.

  42. What does this guy know about yoga. He likely doesn’t even understand his own religion. The recent survey conducted by the Pew Forum had many surprising facts, such as: Fewer than one-in-five people (16%) correctly identify Protestantism as the faith that traditionally teaches that salvation comes through faith alone.

    Also: Just 46% of those polled correctly identify Martin Luther (1483-1546) as the person whose writings and actions inspired the Protestant reformation.

    And… only 42% of American Protestants correctly identify the Dalai Lama’s religion as Buddhism. Seriously?

    1. only 42% of American Protestants correctly identify the Dalai Lama’s religion as Buddhism.

      Paraphrased from SNL’s Gandhi and the Bear c. 1983:

      Gandhi: The road to nirvana is paved with positive intentions.
      Julia Louis Dreyfuss: Nirvana? I think I ate in a Stuckey’s there once.

  43. QUOTE: “Whether one accepts or rejects his argument, he’s theologically on strong ground. His essential argument is 1) yoga cannot be completely divorced from its spiritual history and context, and 2) its context and goals are alien to basic mainstream Christian theology as it has existed for the last thousand years.”

    Except that all theology is entirely arbitrary, and if all Christians (or the vast majority) decided that yoga was in fact actually compatible with Christianity, then, hey, whadda ya know, it would be. (And judging by the comments on this thread, such a change in attitude amongst Christians already has happened to some degree.)

    Even if there were still a few other practitioners crying and screaming and hollering how it isn’t, and how dare you sir, change Christian theology as it has been practiced for the last 2000 years?

    If such a hypothetical were to happen, and you were on the side of keeping alive the 2000 year tradition, then I suppose it would be time to start your own schism. What fun! You get to be in charge and wear the giant hat now!

  44. I grew up in Canada’s Bible Belt and was given the same rules about yoga, way back in the 80s. It got me out of a lot of lame gym classes because I could tell the teacher her yoga unit was against my religion.

    It goes hand-in-hand with the mentality that acknowledging anything below the neck is risking a rapid transit ride to the big H. We had a saying: “No having sex, because it might lead to dancing.”

    Fortunately, I grew up and now practice all three activities with zeal.

  45. Let me see if I can model the thought process:
    Yoga has (long-sidelined) spiritual elements; wait, that could cause people to stop going to our church for enlightenment! And that weird hatha bow thingy looks like demonic possession, I swear.

    Since when did a church begin implying that there was only one correct path to your experience of God? Wait, nevermind, I think I answered my own question. Franchises hate, fear and denigrate competitors.

  46. These guys need to reconsider the dimensions of historical, spiritual Christianity – which they have devolved into a mere literary appreciation society, fixated on a single text.

    Meister Eckhardt and San Juan De La Cruz are those who’s lives, experience and writings would prompt immediate recognition in any long-term devoted practitioner of prananyama and spiritual, hatha yoga.

    To say nothing of this text, contemporary with the emergence of Bhakti yoga in India and dhikr khafi in Persia. It remains a classic – preserved within Christian circles for over 700 years, without formal sponsorship.

    The Spiritual Guide, by Miguel de Molinos, is another book that would be recognisable by spiritual practitioners of yoga. The emphasis on the proper master/disciple relationship is explored in its correct dimensions – including the error of wayfaring without guidance of one already well-travelled through the pitfalls and blind avenues, awaiting would-be practitioners.

    Again, many hundreds of years of treasuring and protecting this book in Christian circles testify to a native tradition in the church, of meditative quitism, actively practised – despite persecution from the ecclesiastic hierarchy.

    This condemnation came from the same churches, which consider their theological founding and the model for priesthood in the work of St. Thomas Aquinas. Yet it is in Aquinas’ explanation of the via negativa that one may clearly see a theological orthodoxy in quietist practices, still classed as heresy in Catholicism.

  47. See also the seventeen thousand variations on “Why, in the most trying parts of my life, were there only one set of footsteps in the sand, o Lord?”

    “What, you didn’t want to learn to walk by yourself?” Oh wait, that’s Hekate (Whom I adore), not Jesus.

  48. In reality the Southern Baptist organization is heretical to anyone who has read and remembers the statements of Jesus in the 4 books of the New Testament that are widely believed to be written (or orally passed down) by the 4 apostles, Mark, Luke, Paul and Ringo [sic ;-) ]. For example, “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Heaven!”

    That statement right there cuts all pastors of mega churches out of being Christian.

    Furthermore, in many places in many translations of the Bible, Jesus tells us to pray in private, not in public, so as not to allow people to think that you may be praying to impress them as opposed to praying to contact with G-D. So for these people to gather together to pray (wail, even) in public, on TV, is a sin against the word of Christ.

    So his order to stop using Yoga to improve our physical well being, to maintain our G-d given bodies in the best order we can, is just another heretical statement, with no foundation in the teachings of Jesus Christ whatsoever.

    Anyone who reads the Bible and remembers what it says knows that preachers are the biggest sinners on Earth. These pseudo-Christians trying to influence history into their fantasy about what Christianity is are as evil (to a real Christian) as the Egyptian god-ruler who enslaved the Jews, or the Babylonian king who enslaved the Jews.

    Frankly, I read the Bible they gave me in Sunday School, like 4th grade maybe? and realized that it was the biggest pile of self-contgradictory gibberish one could collect from ancient goat-herders, and anyone in the 20th century (at the time) who thought that rules laid down for goat-herders 3000 years ago should apply to people now, today, when we know real rules about the physical world, like how lightning occurs, is bat-shit insane!

    When I was like 9 I knew those preachers on the radio were nuts, and the ones on TV today are thieves stealing from the people they fool into thinking that they preach the truth of Jesu.

  49. “…the idea that the body is a vehicle for reaching consciousness with the divine… That’s just not Christianity”


    The traditional Christian attitude towards the body is much more akin to the whipping post and the rack.


  50. Yoga by itself is not a belief system. I haven’t read any of the historical scripts, but at least as it is practiced now it is more of a holistic system of exercises for the body.

    Yoga classes teach you breathing exercises and various positions; there’s no talk of religion anywhere. So I wonder why the zealots feel so threatened by it.

    Hinduism taken on its own is very different from the Abrahamic religions – it has no commandments and absolutely no concept of conversion or proselytization.
    I think the concept of ‘We are all embodiments of the divine’ and the fact that you get to define how you connect with the deity(ies) of your choice – whether through daily prayer or visiting temples or meditation or what have you – is what gets the Abrahamic religion fundie zealots into a twist. It effectively cuts out the middleman of church or priest, and becomes a highly personal form of worship.
    I’m sure there are Christians too who worship Jesus similarly, even if they don’t regularly attend church or read the bible.
    It works for them, even if the church may say it doesn’t.

  51. Think for yourself and question authority. It’s hard to believe that people are so unwilling to believe in the faith that exists in all of us…we are all manifestations of God, and actually buy the latest flavor of crap from this fundamentalist. This guy puts the ‘Mental’ into fundaMentalism. Truly. It is time, now, people, brothers and sisters, family all, to completely reject the dictator-like thinking behind this type of thing, and reject the absurdity inherent of fundamental religions. Help each other out, believe you are lovable, spread love, be nice to all of God’s creatures, and feel the divinity of practices like Yoga. Doreen Virtue writes that those who invented yoga sent forward in time prayers for us. She says the Angels encourage us to utilize the divine practice of Yoga to strengthen our minds and bodies. People like Molher are afraid that he’ll lose out on the almighty Dollar, which he worships, if we find our own way and our own paths to God.

  52. You would think that an individual such as Mohler who puts such store in the bible would be a little more comfortable with contradiction.

  53. Matt 23
    13″Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.[c]
    15″Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.”
    It seems to grow in faith means to live progressively in spirit.

    Jesus and Paul are talking about this experimental knowledge in the depths of God that transforms in a series of states that reveals and invites us to have a personal encounter and relationship with the living God.

  54. “Mohler said many people have written him to say they’re simply doing exercises and forgoing yoga’s eastern mysticism and meditation.
    “My response to that would be simple and straightforward: You’re just not doing yoga,” Mohler said.”

    Clear, simple, and concise.

  55. Yoga is a false religion? Of course it is – they all are!

    And anon @ 84 –

    Think for yourself and question authority.

    Yeah? And just who are you to tell me to think for myself?

    Doreen Virtue writes that those who invented yoga sent forward in time prayers for us.

    – talk about putting the mental in…

  56. Mr. Mohler!

    You must avoid blogging as Jesus never used computers so if he never used computers then how come all christians shall use it.

    Isn’t it closed mind buddy Mohler!

  57. There are plenty of passages in the Bible that reference the body as a sort of temple. The idea being that you take care of it, and you will be able to worship better.
    I’m not religious myself, but my mother used to quote that scripture at me as her justification for doing yoga.

    1. You’ll need to quote the Bible verses to convince me of your interpretation. In fact, for many centuries Christians abjured and despised the body, never cleaning it, indeed scourging and mortifying and starving it, treating it with contempt, and as the source of sinning. The “body” for them is merely an earthly vessel, of no worth whatsoever, especially next to the “spirit” and its worlds, both its present and that of its asserted future.

      Here’s some Bible verses concerning the body: and I see nothing in them about the body being worthy of respect. Instead, it is to be sacrificed to God.

      Don’t tell us what the Bible says, if you cannot quote the verse – you may only be mis-quoting Thoreau, or Buddha:

      “True Christians” abjure the body: they do NOT worship it.
      Quite the contrary, in fact: they despise the body. And all of its pleasures.

  58. I find it hilarious how one can so easily find contradictory quotes in religious texts. Which one do you decide to follow?
    Is the body a temple or something to be treated with contempt?

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