Rethink yoga

March 13, 2014
Deborah Raiees-Dana

We are cultural beings. We learn what is acceptable from those around us, and that becomes our unconscious reality. When something is said often enough it becomes true for us, regardless of its ultimate reality.

My devotional this morning highlighted the fact that when the Israelites were in Egypt they had no revelatory word from God, so the giving of the law and the isolation of the tribes in the desert was a means of installing in them a new culture. But cultural shifts are hard, and once we’ve accepted something as reality, we don’t easily let go.

Belief in a spiritual realm where angels and demons are real has largely been dismissed by mainstream Christianity. We have a lot of teaching about God, but we are “ignorant about the plans and schemes of the enemy” (2 Cor. 2:11). Demonic influences have been explained as ignorant superstitions or as the results of mental illnesses. And as long as we believe Satan and his powers are not worth considering, he is free to attack and lay the blame wherever he sees fit. Judgementalism and self-condemnation result.

I pray as I write this that neither of these reactions results from my comments. It is my hope that we all acknowledge the real possibility that we may be deceived or ignorant in certain areas, and that we all desire truth, no matter how disconcerting the truth may be.

My story is too long and complex to explain fully, but I was saved while in elementary school, experimented with witchcraft in junior high, started drugs in high school and was deeply involved with the New Age—including yoga—during my college years. About 30 years ago I turned back to Jesus. About 20 years ago I began the process of being delivered from numerous demonic spirits. I’ve had to wrestle with the reality of how demonic spirits have affected my life as a Christian over the years, but the freedom I’ve experienced and have seen others experience has been the most beautiful thing I’ve known since salvation.

This column is not a theological exegesis, but rather a heartfelt cry. I understand that yoga has become an accepted part of the American culture. The National Institute of Health promotes it vigorously and much of the Church has accepted it as harmless. I have to disagree.

As I have been thinking of all the arguments and reasons why yoga is not as beneficial as we’ve been led to believe, it all keeps coming back to the fact that yoga has its roots in the worship of demonic Hindu gods.

I believe that while yoga may offer some benefits, those benefits have hidden, demonic strings attached. I spoke to one of our chapel speakers years ago about this. He was a Dalit “untouchable” from India who had become a Christian. His view is that yoga is the beautiful face that the very ugly religion of Hinduism uses to sell itself to Americans.

Please know that my intention for writing this is one of love and concern. I understand that most people will probably disagree with me. It is not easy for me to publicly share my story, knowing that it is so counter-cultural. But if my story will bring hope or truth to anyone, it is worth it. I am very open to respectfully discussing any of these issues further. There is more I have left unsaid than I have said.

Ask God to reveal his truth, and then be willing to seek it out. Google “yoga” and dig a bit. Research the presence of exorcism in the Early Church. Search the Scriptures.

We don’t need to be afraid of the demonic realm, but we do need to be wise.

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