History of Yoga – What is Yoga?
Today, many people are taking up yoga techniques for physical exercise, and most don’t know the history of yoga. They believe there is nothing wrong with implementing this form of exercise into their daily regiment to promote a more healthy body.
However, the practice of yoga is much more than a system of physical exercise for health. Yoga is an ancient path to spiritual growth, and originates out of India where Induism is practiced. The practice and goal of yoga dates back to the Upanishads, written between 1000-5000 BC.
History of Yoga – Is it spiritual?
The history of yoga is based in the Indus Valley civilization. The techniques are practiced by the Indus to initiate spiritual growth. The yogis encourage union with the finite jiva (transitory self) and with the infinite Brahman (eternal self). Brahman is a term used by the Hindus to mean “God.” So, what are we supposed to unite with? Yogis usually think of God as an impersonal, spiritual substance, coexisting with all of reality. This doctrine is called pantheism which is the view that everything is God. In the Bible, God reveals Himself as the personal Creator of the universe.
Since it is taught by the yogis that everything is God, it then stands to reason, man is God. Christianity, on the other hand, teaches us there is a clear distinction between man and God. Since God is the Creator, we are one of his creations and created “in the image” of God.
Unlike the yogis, the Bible presents man’s primary problem to be sin -- a failure to conform to God’s character and standards. The solution is Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. He calls men to freely receive all the benefits of His salvation through faith in Christ alone.
Yoga views man’s problem primarily in terms of ignorance. Man simply does not understand he is God so the solution is enlightenment, or an experience of union with God. In order to reach that goal, there must be a lot of striving and effort which is not needed in the Christian viewpoint.
History of Yoga - Is yoga safe?
Can the methods used in the yoga techniques for exercising be separated from the philosophy? The answer is a distinctive “no” because yoga is considered to be a practice of psychosomatic exercises. There is no way to separate the two. The yoga scholar will tell you that in order to practice yoga in the fullest, one must experience what is called the “kundalini” effect within meditation. What does this mean? For spiritual lessons to be grasped by the soul within the person, the chakra, or different locations within the body where a circle of metaphysical and/or biophysical energy resides, join together in the process. Kundilini stimulates the chakra center to open and release the energy held within. If not done properly, some believe that a person can injure the brain.
By researching the history of yoga, we learn that it is not safe spiritually. Yoga teaches us to focus on ourselves instead of on the one true God. It encourages us to seek the answers to life's difficult questions within our own conscience instead of in the Bible. It also leaves one open to deception from Satan, who searches for victims that he can turn away from God (1 Peter 5:8).