Yoga/Yoga and Christianity

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Saint Anthony the Great, a Christian Yogi.

It is a highly debated issue of whether Christians could practice Yoga. From the perspective of Yoga it is no problem, because Yoga teaches the unity of all religions. But within Christianity there are many different opinions.

Yoga and Christianity[edit]

Christianity is a religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus. There are many christian groups with different opinions. Some accept Yoga and some do not. First of all Yog is in the west mainly a body exercise. In this way everbody can do Yoga. Yoga is good for relaxation, fitness and mental health. In Yoga each may go his own spiritual way. Christians are allowed to keep their faith in Jesus. Most important is to which spiritual Master you pray or what role model you have. If you pray to Jesus, Jesus will lead you in your Yoga exercises. There are in Yoga many different spiritual paths and concepts of God. A Yogi can be an Atheist, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu or follower of other faiths.

  • Wikipedia: Some Christians integrate yoga and other aspects of Eastern spirituality with prayer and meditation. This has been attributed to a desire to experience God in a more complete way. Christian meditation is a form of prayer in which a structured attempt is made to get in touch with and deliberately reflect upon the revelations of God. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556), the founder of the Jesuits, contain numerous meditative exercises. Saint John of the Cross (1542–1591) viewed Christian meditation as a necessary step toward union with God, and wrote that even the most spiritually advanced persons always needed to regularly return to meditation. Saint Padre Pio (1887–1968) said: "Through the study of books one seeks God; by meditation one finds him". St. Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582) viewed Christian meditation as the first of four steps in achieving "union with God", and used the analogy of watering the garden. She compared basic meditation (thinking) to watering a garden with a bucket, Recollection (praying) to the water wheel, Quiet (contemplation) to a spring of water and Union (enlightenment) to drenching rain.
  • Christian websites for yoga: (www.kath.ch) "More and more Christians discover yoga and other Far Eastern meditation techniques. The Catholic educational centers are long on this trend and offer a variety of courses. The practice of yoga is not contrary to Christian teaching. Yoga affects not only beneficial to the body and mind, but also enables new approaches to Christian spirituality." Catholic parish of St. Michael in Stuttgart-Sillenbuch: "Yoga is an ancient system of physical and mental exercises that addresses the whole person in his unity of mind and body. Yoga tolerates very well with Christian meditation. Yoga exercises are offered in St. Michael for more than 25 years very successful."
  • Nils: All the holy books of the world form a whole and complement each other. Enlightenment is difficult to understand and can be described by many different ways. Who thinks across systems understands the contexts. In the Second Vatican Council (1963 to 1965) it is stated that God is found in all religions. In Christianity, there is much uncertainty about the path of enlightenment. A major criticism is that the mystics want to redeem themselves and the Christians are saved by the grace of God. In Yoga, we focus on the spiritual practice. On the other hand one can not force enlightenment. It finally comes spontaneously, by itself, by grace.

Discussion[edit]

Anthony's trials in the desert.

(Quotes from Yoga and Christianity)

Jessup: I'm working towards taking it up for concentration purposes, as I have some kind of weird learning trouble and can't focus all the time. I'm hoping that Yoga will help me to be able to be focus and retetain. My friend who has introduced me to it, says that it has helped him a bunch in learning and concentrating.

Nils (Mystic): Yoga is helpful in learning and concentrating. You have to find the right exercises for you personally.

flameburns623: The exercises of YOGA are very good if begun gently, preferably with an experienced teacher. For Christians, a Yogic teacher should not ONLY be aware of physical safety in teaching the postures. But also an instructor who is a Christian.

Nils: It is good to have a christian yoga teacher. But if not, you can pray to Jesus. Then Jesus will lead you in your yoga exercises. Yoga is a body exercise. Most important is what role model and spiritual background system you have. Here is the difference between Hinduistic and Christian Yoga. The essence of Christianity is the dual path of love to God and to all beings (the neighbor). A Christian Yoga is based on these two principles.

Hunter24: I've heard Christians say all the time that Yoga and Buddhist meditation can lead to demonic possesion.

Nils: That is really nonsense. I do Yoga and Buddhist meditation for more than 24 years, and I never got problems with demons. You only come in contact with your own psychic tendencies. If you go deeper with Yoga, you have to learn to deal clever with your spirit and your mind. It is good to have psychological knowledge. And is also good to anchor your mind in positive christian principles. I got a training in Yoga and in Psychotherapy. That was very helpfull for me. I put the main principles in my oracles, so that everybody can train his mind positively.

InJesusItrust: Demons do exist and only someone without firsthand experience can claim they don't. Often times a mental illness is an illness, but if a case is a genuine spiritual attack it may be mistaken for mental illness.

Nils: I believe that demons exist, but we are protected from the enlightened Masters. Our only problem are our negative inner tendencies. What we see as demons are normally negative thoughts, created by ourselves. Exorcism is the wrong practice to overcome these demons. I sometimes had problems with strong opposing forces on my spiritual path. They were often much stronger than me. But I prayed to Jesus, was protected and always ultimately triumphed. Trust in Jesus and love. Love is the strongest force in the universe. Do not become a victim of demons by busying yourself with them or work with fear on the spiritual path. The center of Christianity is love and not fear. This is very important to recognize. Send the demons love, pray for them, and they will disappear. They have no chance against love.

Michael Mayo: Do we not sometimes become too concerned about dangerous spirits when the reality is that we alone are resposnible for our own behaviors and the most important dangers are Lust, Greed, Gluttony, Envy, Anger, Pride, and Sloth?

Nils: That is exactly the way it is. Normally our demons are anger, greed and aggression. They have to be overcome by psychotherapeutical methods and working on the mind. There is a good phrase in spirituality: "Don't care about demons and the demons don't care about you." Most demons in the religions are caused by the religions themselves. They teach their people the fear of demons and the demons are created in the mind.

chataranga: Do some research to see where these customs/traditions came from- I believe each of these came from non-christian sources originally.

Nils: Many gestures and customs of Christianity come from other religions. That's no problem. The religions learn from each other and take the good from other religions. That is precisely why Christians can make yoga. It is only important that they preserve their role models and spiritual background system.

Hunter24: in school i was told that Christians think Demons are irredeamable because the sided with Satan, so why pray for them?

Nils: The devil does not really exist. It is a symbol for the ego. The Bible refers to a devil who came to Jesus as he sat for forty days in the desert and meditated. Shortly before Jesus came to enlightenment, the devil appeared to him. The devil wanted to stop him from destroying his ego and from attaining the point where he could stay in the light. Before the inner conflict within a person dissolve, they strengthen for a time. That is very important to understand. A strong feeling of aversion to a spiritual life appears and the worldly pleasures appear for a time to be more important than god. They appear as a large source of confusion and temptation. With a little imagination, the devil can be imagined. One can see the ego as a sort of inner devil who stops one in the path towards enlightenment. However, this devil is not a being, but a part of the individual’s own self. This is a visualized ego conflict. In the Bible it is described with an image, a presence, but this is not to be taken literally. In Buddhism, the devil is called Mara. Before he achieved enlightenment, Mara came to Buddha. Buddha reached his hand towards the earth, activated his root chakra, and rid himself of this ego conflict. Mara and his entire army of temptation disappeared. After Buddha triumphed, the light of enlightenment flowed within. With Jesus, it meant that angels came and served him, after he managed to overwhelm his ego. Satan does not exist, but in the world exist good and evil. There are good people and bad people. But the bad people are not completely bad. They have good and bad qualities as the good people. But in bad people the bad qualities predominate. Every soul can strengthen the good qualities and overcome the bad. And so it is with demons. Therefor we can pray for bad people and also for demons, that they find the way to God and to love. And if we pray for our enemies (bad people or demons), we overcome them in our spirit. We create love and peace inside and transform us to holiness.

Michael Mayo: I would go own to wonder about the specific nature of the demon problem and what it might have to say about one's spiritual life.

Nils: Understanding the demons means to understand ourselves. It means to find our path to holiness and to paradise.

flameburns623: So far as we know, something there is about Lucifer and the rest of the fallen angels that, having once rebelled against God, they are now irredeemable and beyond prayer.

Nils: In my opinion every fallen angel can stand up again. Every soul can be saved by the grace of God. God is good and omnipotent.

Michael Mayo: Are we to assume that demons can put thoughts into our minds (temptations)? Affect our moods?

Nils: That is an interesting question. On a spiritual level everything is connected. If I create positive thoughts in my mind, I can transform the people in my yoga class. I often experienced this. And thus can negative people or demons influence our mind. We have to protect our mind through concentrating on love, God and positive thoughts.

Principles of the Desert Fathers[edit]

God cares for the body and the lions for the self-discipline.

Desert Fathers is a term for the early Christian Yogis, who lived in the third century a reclusive life in the deserts of Egypt and Syria, either as a hermit or in groups. The main principle of the Desert Fathers was to sit down in the hut (cell) and then "feel the path of effective spiritual practice from within." They called it "your hut will teach you." The skill on the spiritual path is to find exactly the right degree of personal rest and activity. Decisively on the path of enlightenment (inner happiness) is to deal wise with the thoughts. We have to find a way to resolve the mental blockades. Then there is suddenly an inner transformation and man is in happiness. The victory over all suffering is the awakening of the inner light (God consciousness). An important problem of the Desert Fathers was dealing with sexuality. They have talked about it openly. Who represses his sexuality, gets tensions and blocks his enlightenment. On the other hand, too much sex causes attachments and in turn creates internal tensions. The Desert Fathers have been trying to find sensitive their personal way of resolution of sexual addictions and relationship desires. A desert father convinced himself of living alone with the thought, that he had to work much for a relationship. The life of a hermit is much more quiet and friendly. Another desert father saw women only as people (sisters, daughters, mothers, goddesses) and not as sexual beings. A third desert father had a girlfriend in a nearby village. When he was visited by his fellow monks, he hid her. A holy father discovered her, but he did not betray. He only told the monk to give good care of himself. This can be understood that one can have a relationship, but without losing his spiritual path.

The desert fathers dealt also with the question, whether it is more important to help a fellow human being, or to pray. Who is holier, the helper or the prayer (contemplation)? Basically both is important. But the helper is holier than the prayer. A helper could consume in helping and lose his peace of mind. Therefor a helping man needs the rest and prayer, if he wants to find God. The desert mother Synkletika knew that the hermit who want to live a life in God, stands before a lot of inner work and hard fighting. But in the end there would be an unspeakable joy. On the path to God one should not overwhelm oneself. Some hermits need a flower in their hut, and some do not. Suppose someone can not live without a flower, he should plant one. Who needs joy on his way should give himself sufficient enjoyment.

Quotes[edit]

(Excerpts from Sayings of the Desert Fathers])

  • Abba Moses, "Sit in thy cell and thy cell will teach thee all."
  • A hermit said, 'Take care to be silent. Empty your mind. Concentrate on God, whether you are resting or at work. If you do this, you will overcome your problems.'
  • A man who keeps death before his eyes will at all times overcome his problems.
  • Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, 'I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace, and, as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?' Then the old man stood up and stretched his hands towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, 'If you will, you can become all flame.'
  • Abba Ammonas was asked, 'What is the "narrow and hard way?" (Mt. 7.14) He replied, 'The "narrow and hard way" is this, to control your thoughts, and to strip yourself of your own will, for the sake of God."
  • It was said of Abba Helladius that he spent twenty years in the Cells, without ever raising his eyes to see the roof of the church.
  • Amma Theodora said, 'Let us strive to enter by the narrow gate, Just as the trees, if they have not stood before the winter's storms cannot bear fruit, so it is with us; this present age is a storm and it is only through many trials and temptations that we can obtain an inheritance in the kingdom of heaven.'

My experience of Jesus Christ[edit]

Nils (mystic)

Nils: "My parents are atheists. After my studies, I became a lawyer. When I was thirty, I found my spiritual calling in addition to my profession. I did three hours of spiritual exercise daily. In November 1986 I had my first big enlightenment experience. During a meditation while lying down, a warm column of energy slowly rose from my lower belly. As the energy reached my head, my self-consciousness disappeared, I became one with the all-encompassing love of the cosmos. I experienced extreme happiness. I was suddenly able to understand the holy books written throughout mankind's history at a deeper level.

The high point of my spiritual experience was what I felt as the entrance of the Holy Spirit. A thick beam of energy flew from the sky and into my crown chakra. The energy flowed through my body and filled it out completely. On my head was a small flame of energy. This experience is comparable with the Pentecost event. On the heads of the early Christians appeared small energy tongues. Spontaneously arose in me the thought that now I have been blessed by the Holy Spirit. I felt the energy beam as a descent of the Holy Spirit. A short time later I had another amazing experience. When I made my daily walk one evening, I suddenly had the feeling that I was seen from the sky. It was as if at the sky there was a large eye that saw me. The message of this eye was: "You can go your way with trust. You are guided by God." I read the Bible thoroughly from front to back. Through my experiences of enlightenment I could now understand the deep wisdom in the Scriptures. I also understood what the term "God" did mean.

One day I layed on my bed and meditated. My thoughts always came to rest more and more. Suddenly Jesus Christ stood as a great shining light in the middle of the room. Back then I lived for six years as a hermit in seclusion. I knew immediately that this luminary was Jesus Christ. Jesus came to me and floated into me. I was filled with bliss. I rested for some time in this unimaginably large energy of love, peace and light.

Ulla meets God[edit]

Ulla.jpg

Nils: Good day, dear Ulla! Can you tell me something about your life?

Ulla: When I was sent to Sunday school, I liked to listen to the stories of Jesus. Then followed a long period of spiritual sleep, how I would describe it today. I had several friends, but always felt it was not the right man. Until I got a man, with whom I had over 30 years of a desperate relationship. On the one hand, I always wanted to get away from him because he was doing me no good. On the other hand, I was not able to do it. But this negative relationship was at least the advantage that I got interested in religion. As my husband always went to bed early, I was still on long and I busied myself with the various religions. I prayed to God since my childhood. God or Goddess? I wanted to know. I went on a fantastic meditation. I wanted to meet the goddess in a clearing! I imagined how I went to a little house through a garden with flowers. I walked a beautiful forest trail along until I came to the clearing. There I waited for the goddess! This meditation, I did with a wunderfull meditation music. The meditation became independent. The road rose gradually, without being burdensome, and the vegetation was lost. As I looked around me there was suddenly left and right of way only emptiness. When I went higher, I saw before me a bright light. As I approached this wonderful, warm light, I saw a Greek statue of a deity. I went to this wonderful bright, love-emitting light, and asked simply, "So there is not a goddess?" The light being turned to me, changed his form and I looked at my own face. I suddenly knew that God bears within himself the female, male, and everything else. I realized that each of us is a tiny part of God. God wants nothing more than to re-unite with us. But we must be like God, full of love and selflessness. And this is often a long way. I was overcome with such a wonderful warmth, such a deep love and peace, that I would always prefer to stay with God. But unfortunately, I was then quickly brought back to my body. I found no rest and always wanted to come back to God. I meditate every night and was very unhappy that it did not work. Then suddenly I had found the path again, but I saw a lot of branching paths. I realized that one should always be carefully on his way to not fall back again. And then I heard a voice in my heart, who said: "Why do you spend unnecessary time to see me again? Live your life and be happy and make others happy, then you have done a lot?" Since that day my life changed completely. I have no more fears, can see into the hearts of the people, do not have a husband anymore, no more house, no money and I am completely happy.

Yoga of Love[edit]

Love heart uidaodjsdsew.png

The yoga of love is a way to connect yoga exercises with the energy of love. Thus yoga gets a great cleansing power and can lead you on a fast and easy way to enlightenment. Yoga of love awakens the love in you and brings you to a life in love and in the light. Yoga gives you health, beauty and happiness. It brings you into a life in the light and love, if you connect yourself with the enlightenment energy (God, the enlightened Masters). Do yoga as it is good for you. Practise with wisdom, love and joy. Then you only need lifelong endurance. The grace will come to you by its own. Everybody on the yoga path will be filled with bliss, if he or she goes with the power of love. It is only a question of time.

1. Find a spiritual role model you love and you trust. In indian yoga people usually pray to Shiva befor starting with our yoga exercises. You thus do yoga in connection with the energy of Shiva and this energy transforms you. Modern yoga teaches the unity of all religion. You can have the believe you want. You have to find a role model that suits to your believe. You can believe in the power of natur and pray to the sun. Many yogi perform the sun salutation and get by this into a life in the light. You can pray to God, to Jesus, to Buddha or to an enlightened Master you want. If you believe you role model is enlightened, your believe will activate the enlightenment energy within you. If your role model really is enlightened, he or she can help you with his spiritual abilities.

2. Find a picture oder statue of your role model. Have a clear vision how he or she looks like. Read regularly in a book of your role model. Read yoga tales, pray or work with an oracle. A real darshan consits of the three points seeing, hearing and touching. Darshan is the energy transfer. The energy of love can flow into you, if you see a picture, a statue or a real enlightened person you like. Hear the teachings or to read something from the spiritual role model you like. An it must touch you inside. You have to feel love or trust. Then the energy of love can come to you.

3. Give the energy of love to all people. Wish that all people may be happy. Wish that the whole world may be happy. Then the light of your role model flows through you to to world and fills you with love. You get a unity consciousness which is necessary for enlightenment, inner peace and happiness.

4. Make your yoga exercises always with a mantra for your role model and for the all-embracing love. For example: "Om all enlightened Masters. Om inner wisdom. Please guide and help me on my way." "I send light to (name). May all people be happy. May the word be happy." You may formulate the mantras in your own words. Christians can pray to God and for all people. You can also connect yourself with a special enlightened Master as Buddha, Jesus, Shiva and so on.

5. Feel connected with your role model while doing your yoga exercises. Think or speak mantras. Do yoga for yourself and as a way to connect you regularly with spirituality, wisdom and love. Get the power for a life in love and truth from your daily spiritual exercises.

Finding God through the path of enlightenment[edit]

Buddha of Love

God is a mystery that can be seen and understand only by enlightenment. One can see God only in enlightenment. The Bible says: "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." Who cleans his heart (his mind) with spiritual exercises, enters the dimension of God and sees God. With funding of physics or logic, we can describe God very limited. Science cannot explore more than circumstantial evidences for God. If one really want to know whether God exists, one must realize enlightenment.

1. Purify yourself with yoga and mantra yoga. Do yoga for beginners, easy yoga poses with mantra meditation, dynamic mantra yoga, fitness yoga or yoga with positive thinking. Practice the five principles of health.

2. Do kundalini yoga. Kundalini is a great power, which leads us to enlightenment. Read How to Get the Benefits of Kundalini Yoga. Pracice the sun meditation.

3. Do the yoga of love. Send regularly all people light. All-encompassing love is the quickest way to a life in God. Read How to Be a Karma Yogi.

4. Connect daily with God or the enlightened Masters and follow the voice of your inner wisdom. Read in the holy books, pray or think a mantra as: "Om all enlightened Masters. Om inner wisdom. Please guide and help me on my way." You can change the mantra, so that it applies to your personal beliefs. Buddhists say: "Om Buddha". Christians can pray: "Dear God", or "Jesus Christ". Atheists can think: "Om inner wisdom". Find your personal word to connect with the enlightenment energy. Get help from the yoga oracle or the angel oracle.

5. Think positive. Practice the five qualities inner peace, love, wisdom, self-discipline and happiness. Become positive through forgiveness and thankfullness.

Thinking about God[edit]

God painted as a saint in a circle (unity consciousness).

Why is there the word God? Because it is helpful for many people to come to enlightenment. The center is enlightenment, not the word God. God is a mystery, and goes beyond the normal human understanding (the rational thinking, the four-dimensional system of thinking). In the enlightenment, we learn that we are not only on a higher level of relaxation, but in a higher cosmic dimension. And an enlightened can test this. He gets special abilities. These abilities have something to do with omniscience (infinite knowledge), omnipotence (unlimited power), omnipresence (present everywhere) and omnibenevolence (perfect goodness). Perfect goodness means to see the good in all and to act basically positiv.

  • Enlightenment occurs when the tension in the body and mind are dissolved. In the Bible, this is described with the words: "God is found in silence." The tensions are caused by the stress of life and mental false reactions. Tensions can lead to mental abnormalities (neuroses) and psychosomatic illnesses. You can put it like this: "An enlightened is inwardly healthy (whole, a holy)."
  • Meditation and mental work are the two main techniques to resolve inner tensions. In meditation, there are various techniques. You can work with visualisations. Positive images can resolve internal tensions and mental disorder. The center of meditation is inner peace. Then all of the stored stress ultimately emerge by itself and dissolve.
  • The enlightened mind is characterized by inner peace. God is therefore no concept, but from the inner peace unfolds a higher consciousness. One can suddenly think better. The tensions are eliminated. The mental capacity is multiplied. One can think holistically (excluding an ego from the entire cosmic system).
  • By the purified mind one can recognize what God is. God is not a concept but the basic perception of man. A person sees all things as they really are. He sees everything in context. Where previously a man by his ego was fixated on himself, he now thinks and feels egoless as one with the cosmos. If the tensions disappear in man, from the deep inner peace arises a deep inner happiness. The man is one with himself and the world. He feels peace, happiness, strength, love and clarity in himself. He has a higher perception. He can suddenly think above the higher dimensions in the cosmos. The space-time limitation is lifted. And an enlightened sees God as light in the world. He recognizes that there is a higher consciousness that permeates and directs everything. He is in his consciousness connected with God.
  • Spirituality is a way of working on oneself and his mind (spirit). Through spiritual techniques such as mental work (positive thinking) and meditation one can come into contact with a higher level of consciousness (God consciousness, unity consciousness). One sees the light in the world, in himself and in his fellow man. The most effective exercise is to rest, to practice (Yoga, meditation, reading) and to love all beings (to do good for others). You must center your life in inner happiness and find out how you can stay within and grow spiritually. The most important thing in spirituality is the inner voice. The inner voice is the voice of your own truth and wisdom. It is your feeling of rightness.

External links[edit]