"Surely Lord, You have rejected and forsaken Your people, the house of Jacob, because they are filled with customs from the east and with soothsayers who foretell like the Philistines." Isaiah 2/6
In the past several decades yoga has become increasingly popular in the West, both as a form of physical fitness and as a meditation and relaxation technique. Over the years many people have asked me about yoga. Is yoga physical exercise or is it something more? Should a Christian practice yoga? What are the spiritual aspects of yoga and how does it affect the individual? What exactly is yoga? As one who came out of New Age occultism, including a belief in reincarnation and eastern meditation, I believe it is important to have a clear understanding of these practices and how they relate to us spiritually.
The word yoga comes from the ancient Indian Sanskrit word and means to yoke or unite and has always been a part of the spiritual practices of Hinduism and Buddhism. These eastern philosophies teach that we all have a divine (God) nature within and are One with God and the universe, only we don’t know it. Many people practice yoga as a form of exercise, but the goal of all yoga is to come to an awareness or realization that the higher self or spirit within us is God. How is this done?
In order to grasp the spiritual concepts of yoga, it is important first to understand the basic design of man. When God created Adam, he created him in His own image as a three-part being: spirit, soul and body. Genesis 2:7 says, "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground (the physical body), and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (the spirit body), and man became a living soul (the mind or will)." 1 Corinthians 15:44 says, "There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body." At the fall, when Adam sinned, spiritual death occurred. That is, his spirit man died and became dormant or encased in the prison of his mind (soul) and flesh. That is why Jesus said, "You must be born again," because there must be a rebirth or regeneration of the spirit of man by the Spirit of God. This is also what is meant by Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 15:50, "Now this I say brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God," because only spirit can touch the spirit world and only a spirit reborn by God's Holy Spirit can inherit the Kingdom of God, which is not of this world (John 18:36).
Through the different breathing exercises and by willfully emptying the mind through concentrated meditation, a shift in consciousness occurs within the mind and nervous system, very similar to that of the drug-induced state of the shaman or sorcerer. A doorway to the spirit realm is then opened; the pineal gland or "third eye" of Hinduism is activated and a demonic spiritual connection is made with the spirit of the person who is then "liberated" to have all kinds of spiritual experiences, especially the sensation that they are eternal spirit and one with God. This is what is meant by the yogic terms self-realization and unfoldment; the discovery or awakening that the self is God. In New Age occultism this movement through the spirit world is called astral travel or astral projection. In reality it is sorcery because any entrance into the spirit realm through any means other than Jesus Christ is the same as witchcraft (John 10:9, Galatians 5:20, sorcery/pharmakeia/drugs).
Ecclesiastes 10:8 says, "Whoever breaks through a wall, a serpent will bite him." In Hindu mysticism the Kundalini force or "serpent power" is represented by the Cobra and is believed to be the god-force or connecting energy within all living beings. These experiences are genuinely real, however, they are not from the Holy Spirit but from a deceiving spirit. From the earliest times the enemy has attempted to deceive people using spiritual experiences that are not from God. "Surely Lord, You have rejected and forsaken your people, the house of Jacob, because they are filled with customs from the east and with soothsayers who foretell like the Philistines (Isaiah 2:6)." The practice of yoga goes all the way back to the eastern religions and cannot be separated from its spiritual roots, which teach that man is God; a doctrine of demons that discounts man's sin and the need for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. This belief that man is God is also tied in deeply with the eastern teaching of reincarnation, which says there is no death. This is the same lie the serpent spoke to Eve in the Garden of Eden and the same lie that will deceive so many before the return of Christ (1 Tim. 4:1, 2 Thess. 2:11).
Some Christians believe they can participate in yoga for exercise only, while meditating on the Holy Spirit. But in every way yoga is linked with an ancient religious system that exalts man and opposes the true sovereignty of God. The various "asanas" or poses in yoga are positions of worship to the Sun god, Baal. The eastern form of meditation with repetitive phrases or mantras is a way of blanking out and emptying the mind, similar to the chanting of shamans, and is a gateway to the spirit. This is why Jesus told us not to use "vain repetitions" when we pray. Even the breathing exercises are designed to lower the level of oxygen in the bloodstream while increasing the level of carbon dioxide, another "trigger" in the nervous system which opens a doorway through the mind to the spirit realm. Many occultists have written about this method of entrance and travel through the astral realm, including Aldous Huxley in his book, The Doors of Perception.
Jesus said in John 10:9, "I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved." Because man is a spiritual creature, he searches for spiritual experiences, sometimes through "doorways" other than Jesus. God loves us and truly desires to give us spiritual gifts and experiences so we may know Him better (Ephesians 1:15-23), but it must always be Him who initiates these experiences through His Holy Spirit. It is through the Word and a relationship of faith and obedience that the Lord reveals Himself to us, both practically and supernaturally.
The wide embrace of yoga, especially by Christians, represents a "bridge" of occult teachings from the east to the west and has been a major doorway for the enemy to gain entrance into the Church. While the spiritual elements are subtle, they are extremely dangerous. 1 Timothy 4:1 says that in the last days many will depart from the faith and that seducing spirits and demonic doctrines will be the chief reason for this departure from truth. Just as in the days of the prophets, when God called His people to come away from the customs of the east, the Lord is still calling the Church to be a people separated to Himself. If you have had any past involvement in yoga or in any of the occult teachings of the east, ask God's forgiveness. Renounce yoga and the demonic spirits associated with sorcery, asking the Lord to close every doorway to the spirit realm that is not through faith in Jesus Christ, because "He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24)."