Because nothing's more relaxing than an ideological debate, consider this during your next downward dog: are yoga and Christianity compatible?
Matthew Lee Anderson of Christianity Today summarizes the conflict: some say yoga is "a degraded form of spirituality incompatible with the Christian life," while others claim it's "a way of integrating the body into a relationship with God." Anderson's a bit vague on where he stands in regard to yoga's supposed degradation, but he does say this:
The way to minimize yoga's appeal as a spiritual practice is to recover an understanding of the body that makes the practices we see in Scripture more compelling. Such a theology could also take on a more evangelistic tone: If ever the dignity and status of the body were in question, it is now, and evangelicals have an opportunity to welcome bodies of all sorts, giving them an intrinsic dignity and worth they may not have elsewhere.
It's not clear, at least to this unchurched reader, which Scripture-based practices he's referring to, but it's probably not PraiseMoves, a "Christian alternative to yoga" developed under the theory that "yoga's breathing techniques [...] can be an open door to the psychic realm" and can even leave a person open to "demonic influences." Even some evangelicals mock PraiseMoves — back in 2005, Agnieszka Tennant wrote that PraiseMoves was basically just yoga with "biblical explanations and biblical-sounding names for the poses." Tennant herself is solidly pro-yoga:
My natural response to any deep-breathing exercises is an emotionally felt love of God. Soon after I take off my socks and do a couple of poses, spontaneous prayers soar to Christ. Give me five minutes of yoga, and my mind immediately goes to the metaphor of God's spirit being as omnipresent and as necessary as the air.
As many have pointed out, most yoga practiced in the United States is pretty far removed from its Hindu origins. Some Christians may find these origins unpalatable, but your average yoga class is basically just breathing and stretching. And if that's all it takes for a demon to get at you, we have a lot more to worry about than yoga.
God Has A Wonderful Plan For Your Body [Christianity Today]
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