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Whaaa? Christians should not do Yoga?


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Since Christians believe that there are no other gods, they should not worry about unintentionally worshipping other gods.

 

I have heard this concern, but it is ignorant in my opinion. It is most often heard from someone who is not confident in his/her own faith.

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Go to youtube and search "Ravi Zacharias on yoga."

 

I think much has to do with your own personal beliefs, how you practice it, etc. I think of it as a great set of stretches. :D

 

ETA - If you want to take it to the Bible, I would refer you to 2 Corinthians where Paul talks about the mature in the faith having no problems eating meat sacrificed to idols, but that they should take care because their freedom could lead others into sin (because the weaker believers get wrapped up in judging the actions of those eating the meat). So I could understand a Christian who does yoga choosing to do it in the privacy of her own home rather than out at a class or with her children.

Edited by AuntieM
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Depending on who you talk to, Christians should also not celebrate Halloween, read Harry Potter, drink wine, use pain killers during childbirth, listen to music, dance, play cards, read any book other than the Bible, serve in the military, not serve in the military, vote democrat, etc.

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Since Christians believe that there are no other gods, they should not worry about unintentionally worshipping other gods.

 

I have heard this concern, but it is ignorant in my opinion. It is most often heard from someone who is not confident in his/her own faith.

 

I don't think the issue is really worshiping other gods in quite the sense you seem to be suggesting.

 

A lot of yoga in the West has been totally stripped of its spiritual content - some of it I suspect might be rather unpleasent to someone who actually did practice it as a spiritual disapline. But it also isn't hard to find people who do practice it spiritually - the yoga studio down the road from me very much takes that approach though they do not advertise themselves as a religious organization.

 

The question then becomes is that spirituality compatible with Christian teaching? The physical aspect of yoga is also based on spiritual ideas - are those ideas compatible with Christian teaching?

 

Now, I think the physical aspects are really about a universal - the body, and a lot of the spiritual aspects are based on universals as well. I'd personally have no problem taking most yoga classes, even from someone with a spiritual approach - I feel that I have a good enough grasp of Christian teaching to sift out anything that might be inappropriate. Not everyone would though, and some might argue the underlying principles of yoga are simply incompatible with the fundamental Christian principles - they tend, for example, to have different teachings on the nature and fate of the body.

 

As for demons - in general, like Hindus, Christians believe that there are intelligent, spiritual beings. Taking on practices which Christianity teaches are spiritually unwholesome could, theoretically, be an opportunity for such a being to take advantage of a person somehow. Kind of like in books or on tv when people unwarily invite vampires in to dine. Most moderns find demons to be a bit of an odd concept, but I think the way to think about them that makes more sense is that they are rather like an idea that can worm its way into our consciousness and be destructive. Hatred of others, self-hatred, fear of the body, excessive love of wealth, are all ideas that if we really let them in can be very destructive. These ideas can have a kind of reality and life of their own.

Edited by Bluegoat
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Remember a year or so ago when I posted about Molly being befriended by a little girl around the corner who was from a very conservative, evangelical Christian family?

 

One of the things that really irked me about the kid (and the parents when Molly visited) was the barrage of questions Molly was confronted with about our completely mundane, boring but a-religious lifestyle. And one of the questions Molly was asked was "Do your parents do yoga?" Molly had no idea what that was, so she said, 'No, I don't think so." and then came home and told us. I burst out laughing because the very thought of my husband doing yoga is heee-larious.

 

The kid no longer speaks to Molly, and Molly's been slightly hurt by this. She's done NOTHING but be kind and accepting of this girl and her family, yet I"m completely irked by the continual, "well, WE have STANDARDS!" comments that were thrown around. As in: "Molly, do you wear shorts?" "Yes, in the summer." "Well WE dont. WE have STANDARDS!" :glare::001_huh:

 

So sorry to hijack, but yeah... the yoga thing baffled me until I read this thread!

 

astrid

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Roughly once a year this same question is asked here. People from both sides will reply.

 

Personally I say it is what you make it. If one believes yoga is simply a form of exercise/stretching and good for one's body, then that is exactly what it is.

 

If one believes yoga is a spiritual exercise worshiping some other god, then that is what it becomes if one takes up the practice.

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Roughly once a year this same question is asked here. People from both sides will reply.

 

Personally I say it is what you make it. If one believes yoga is simply a form of exercise/stretching and good for one's body, then that is exactly what it is.

 

If one believes yoga is a spiritual exercise worshiping some other god, then that is what it becomes if one takes up the practice.

 

 

First, thank you for all the responses. I was really floored when people had told me this. I want to get into Meditating(and not the "UM UM" kind) but the clear your head, deep breathing kind. I was also told that saying "UM UM" is worshipping different Gods. And I thought by doing Yoga, it would also decrease my anxiety's as well while adding in toning and stretching.

 

I am Christian, but not the kind of Christian who is a long skirt, turtleneck, don't listen to any music, or do any dancing type of Christian.

 

I attend Church(on occassion) and listen to all kinds of music. My kids read Harry Potter, and even the Twilight series.

 

It felt like they were comparing ot Yoga to a Ouijia board:confused:

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I did not know much about Yoga. But I have been told that if you are a Christian, you should not practice this. Supposedly, it can bring demons into your soul, or worship other Gods.

 

I'm confused.

 

I remember a few years ago a church in my community advertised a yoga class for women and they renamed it Gogo or Godga or some such silliness so they wouldn't offend those who felt practicing yoga meant worshiping some other gods. I guess it is cool if it made them feel better about it. It certainly is missing a lot of info, if you ask me. My first yoga instructor, 12 years ago or so, was a fellow homeschool mom who had practiced her entire life and made her living as an instructor. In her classes she suggest meditating on God or a power of your choosing. I loved that because her heart was so obviously in the most wonderful and open place, therefore helping us to get there, too. She is a fabulous woman who practices Christianity and makes it beautiful.

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I remember a few years ago a church in my community advertised a yoga class for women and they renamed it Gogo or Godga or some such silliness so they wouldn't offend those who felt practicing yoga meant worshiping some other gods. I guess it is cool if it made them feel better about it. It certainly is missing a lot of info, if you ask me. My first yoga instructor, 12 years ago or so, was a fellow homeschool mom who had practiced her entire life and made her living as an instructor. In her classes she suggest meditating on God or a power of your choosing. I loved that because her heart was so obviously in the most wonderful and open place, therefore helping us to get there, too. She is a fabulous woman who practices Christianity and makes it beautiful.

 

Lots of places around her call it, "stretch and breathe." There was a kerfuffle in our YMCA homeschool PE about yoga class when my eldest was in K.

 

Yoga is *hard work*! It is *real* exercise. You won't get as much from it on your own as you will with an experienced teacher. *I* have never been to a yoga class that linked it with true Hindu practices.

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(where's my eye roll smilies???)

 

I'm a christain. I do yoga. I find it calming, good for stretching, and I can breath MUCH better. other positives as well.

 

There are some chants that I find disturbing, but that's is only a small part of yoga and I was able to modify them. (and of my eight or more yoga dvd's, there is only one that troubles me to that extent/at all. the other's are all great. - or boring. ;) )

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I am Christian, but not the kind of Christian who is a long skirt, turtleneck, don't listen to any music, or do any dancing type of Christian.

 

I attend Church(on occassion) and listen to all kinds of music. My kids read Harry Potter, and even the Twilight series.

 

It felt like they were comparing ot Yoga to a Ouijia board:confused:

 

sounds like we'd get along :)

 

for the benefit of anyone who might like it... There is something out there that is stretching exercises set to Bible verse meditations, called Praise Moves

http://praisemoves.com/

 

 

I'm not big into either praise moves or yoga classes. I like my stretches with cardio and strength and where I get to boogie to pop music... my husband jokes that I get paid to dance and shake it on stage. WHAT!?? LOL LOL (it's true, but it's group exercise and I don't show that much skin) :lol:

 

but I thought, it's at least worth mentioning that product in case it would help someone reading the thread who feels led to use it

 

-crystal

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Roughly once a year this same question is asked here. People from both sides will reply.

 

Personally I say it is what you make it. If one believes yoga is simply a form of exercise/stretching and good for one's body, then that is exactly what it is.

 

If one believes yoga is a spiritual exercise worshiping some other god, then that is what it becomes if one takes up the practice.

 

:iagree: Motivation, what is in your heart is the key.

 

I do understand being on the receiving end this kind of thing. I've been "disinvited" to dissect with a homeschool group because our kids have read Harry Potter - they didn't want me to influence the children towards the Dark Arts :001_huh: - and just last week had a 4-H family drop out of our club because they noticed during a meeting that we have National Geographic in our home. Clearly, we aren't the right kind of Christian. :glare:

 

What we learned is just to smile, pass the bean dip, keep our hearts right with God, and let Him take care of the rest. We still have Harry Potter books and National Geographic at our house! :D I still do both the yoga exercises and strength training on the Wii....something about the "virtual" trainer telling me that this is toning my hips and thighs while doing the exercises does not exactly speak "worshipping anything" at the time. Jesus and I are A okay and maybe, just maybe, someday my thighs will look better - where is the crossed fingers, determined face emoticon????? (We need one of these.)

 

I say that if it bothers someone, they clearly themselves should not do it. God deals with each person in their own respective place and with their own personal issues...those issues aren't the same for everyone. If you are fine and it won't negatively influence your relationship with God then by all means do the yoga, get the health benefits, and don't give it a second thought.

 

You just need a good bean dip recipe! :001_smile:

 

Faith

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:iagree: Motivation, what is in your heart is the key.

 

I do understand being on the receiving end this kind of thing. I've been "disinvited" to dissect with a homeschool group because our kids have read Harry Potter - they didn't want me to influence the children towards the Dark Arts :001_huh: - and just last week had a 4-H family drop out of our club because they noticed during a meeting that we have National Geographic in our home. Clearly, we aren't the right kind of Christian. :glare:

 

What we learned is just to smile, pass the bean dip, keep our hearts right with God, and let Him take care of the rest. We still have Harry Potter books and National Geographic at our house! :D I still do both the yoga exercises and strength training on the Wii....something about the "virtual" trainer telling me that this is toning my hips and thighs while doing the exercises does not exactly speak "worshipping anything" at the time. Jesus and I are A okay and maybe, just maybe, someday my thighs will look better - where is the crossed fingers, determined face emoticon????? (We need one of these.)

 

I say that if it bothers someone, they clearly themselves should not do it. God deals with each person in their own respective place and with their own personal issues...those issues aren't the same for everyone. If you are fine and it won't negatively influence your relationship with God then by all means do the yoga, get the health benefits, and don't give it a second thought.

 

You just need a good bean dip recipe! :001_smile:

 

Faith

 

Well faith, you may have Harry Potter and National Geographic in your home, but I think we can all rest assured that you won't be participating in any evil snake charming rituals! :D

 

astrid

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For me, the main issue is the practice of "emptying your mind" that can sometimes accompany doing the poses. The poses in and of themselves are not of spiritual significance to me.

 

Just yesterday at church, we were teaching the youth about keeping our thoughts pure and the young woman leading my dd17's class decided that 20 min. of yoga "to calm and empty the mind" was a great idea. LOL I was not thrilled. As Christians our minds should always be filled with things that are pleasing to God. I don't mean that our minds are always racing, but rather that they are like a bowl full of good fruit. If it's empty, other things can fall into it, but when it's full--of the things WE choose--those other things must fall to the side, kwim? We should be intentional about what is going on in our minds, busy OR relaxed. lol

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sounds like we'd get along :)

 

for the benefit of anyone who might like it... There is something out there that is stretching exercises set to Bible verse meditations, called Praise Moves

http://praisemoves.com/

 

 

I'm not big into either praise moves or yoga classes. I like my stretches with cardio and strength and where I get to boogie to pop music... my husband jokes that I get paid to dance and shake it on stage. WHAT!?? LOL LOL (it's true, but it's group exercise and I don't show that much skin) :lol:

 

but I thought, it's at least worth mentioning that product in case it would help someone reading the thread who feels led to use it

 

-crystal

 

Have this boomarked and will look into it. Thank you.

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National Geographic? :blink: Seriously? That is a new one for me. Because of the topless tribal pictures or what?

 

 

Well I suppose, though frankly, I haven't seen much of that in the last two years. I think it may be the evolution. Who knows??? When people make illogical leaps that I can't follow without hurting my brain :D, I tend to just smile and pass the bean dip. It's not worth investigating in my book. Our 4-H club is getting to be good sized...two new members, so 20 kids to do monthly science projects with...and I don't have time to worry about it!

 

Faith

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I went to a bible study at the huge mega-church in my town. They had a list of activities that you were not to engage in because they were considered pagan or left you open to allowing demons into your soul. Any books, movies or tv shows about witches, wizards, magic, spirits, demons, etc., yoga, meditation, horoscopes and, believe it or not, fortune cookies.

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Hmmm. I disagree.

I don't think you have to buy into the worldview to benefit from the exercise. In some classes or settings these may be inseparable, but I suspect not often and not in a typical yoga studio or YMCA type facility.

 

Same with other practices which originated in non-Christian cultures. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine are good examples.

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I too had never heard of the yoga thing - until my old co-op was actually kicked out of the church we were meeting in because we did some Mommy and Me yoga classes!!! When we found out why they wanted us to leave, we didn't know whether to laugh hysterically or roll our eyes and snort. Fortunately we soon found an easier church to deal with!

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We all do yoga here, kids included. Watching my 8 year old teach my 3 year old various poses is really sweet.

 

I laughed so hard I nearly wet my pants the first time I heard this assessment of yoga. Which goes to show that maybe I need to do more kegels with that yoga. :tongue_smilie:

 

There is a conservative church here led by a man who teaches that yoga is a bad thing. Given that I have also heard him complain that dads should not be carrying their babies in carriers (like Ergo, Bjorn etc) :confused: I just don't bother to pay attention to him or anyone who agrees with about much of anything.

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I do ponder this question from time to time. I have not done enough research to have a truly educated opinion. I agree with the poster who said this is a matter of personal conviction. I would not be upset with a fellow Christian who chooses to abstain from yoga. I would realize that they have a personal conviction and respect it. I also would not be upset by a fellow Christan who takes yoga classes. I might raise my eyebrows if I found out that their entire class participates in the poses while the instructor talks about praising other gods. I happen to think the idea of "Christianizing" yoga is a strange concept, just like I think Church harvest festivals where the kids dress up and get candy are weird too! But, I have friends who do both.

I use several yoga stretches because they help my muscles relax. I've also used some of the breathing because I have read that it increases oxygen flow which can help with pain reduction. I'm not sure what I might think if I found out all of the meanings behind the poses.

 

I will say that I attended a yoga class briefly that made me distinctly uncomfortable because of the religious undertones. I know many Christians who would never have noticed the comments I picked up on. The instructor was clearly trying to include some of the religious elements, but doing it in a way that would appeal to everyone. It did not appeal to me b/c what she said goes against my beliefs. I did not go back. Now I do the stretches at home.

 

On a side note, I recently read an article that claimed many people are injured by doing yoga. Usually b/c they are trying to do moves they are not physically capable of handling.

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We have friends from India who are adamantly against Christians practicing yoga. We've tried explaining to them that around here we've pretty much stripped away all spiritual aspects and are using it as straight-up exercise; we don't have the music playing in the background (they were REALLY worried about the music, saying we didn't understand what it was about and how insidious it is); heck, we use English names for the different poses.

 

Having exhausted those arguments, the husband now sends us articles about people who get injured doing yoga incorrectly.

 

I appreciate their concern, and I'm sure that it would be wrong for people with their background to participate in yoga. But we're coming at it from a different place.

 

ETA: I've got to admit, I feel different mentally depending on which pose I'm doing. I can actually sense the differences that they're alluding to. It's especially profound with the hand positions -- it's surprising that my brain works so differently depending on how I place my fingers! But I think in the context that's okay.

Edited by GailV
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Clinical research supports that both yoga and meditation are beneficial for anxiety and depression.

 

"Mindfulness" has been particularly studied.

 

And, geez, what do people think God was saying when he said "think of these things" and "teach them to your children when you walk..........." and when he talks about His word being on your heart? Meditation.

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I also agree that it is a conviction thing. I took yoga classes briefly, but didn't continue with that particular teacher because she was fond of making us do the chant "I am truth" over and over again. While I may be cute, I have met Truth and it isn't me... :D

 

I do take martial arts - Tai Chi included. Almost all of the types we study are from Eastern descent (some exceptions), but I don't find any personal struggle between my convictions and my study of martial arts. Our martial arts school gives the history of the various forms, but does not incorporate any of the religious undertones.

 

Even so, we did have a family quit altogether because when the owners remodeled, they hung a piece of Chinese art on the wall. A family thought it looked too much like Buddha, and asked the owner if he was pushing Eastern religions now. He replied, "Nope. I'm actually Church of Christ, but I don't push that here either."

 

Two different families with two different convictions. :001_smile:

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Since Christians believe that there are no other gods, they should not worry about unintentionally worshipping other gods.

 

I have heard this concern, but it is ignorant in my opinion. It is most often heard from someone who is not confident in his/her own faith.

 

Really, how does one detect this "lack of confidence?"

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For me, the main issue is the practice of "emptying your mind" that can sometimes accompany doing the poses. The poses in and of themselves are not of spiritual significance to me.

 

hmm, I take those times during the poses to visualize myself under a very gentle waterfall washing away all the toxins in my body. And enjoying the sensation of deep breathing. It's very soothing. It gives me more appreciation for the complexity and miracle of the body Heavenly Father gave me.

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Well, my hamstrings need Yoga...they hate it almost as much as I do...but downing dog or whatever that crazy thing on P90X is...helps me!!

 

I respect others' convictions, but I know what is best for my body and I know where my heart is when doing these things...I am firm in my convictions and the need to have stretched muscles :)

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The kid no longer speaks to Molly, and Molly's been slightly hurt by this. She's done NOTHING but be kind and accepting of this girl and her family, yet I"m completely irked by the continual, "well, WE have STANDARDS!" comments that were thrown around. As in: "Molly, do you wear shorts?" "Yes, in the summer." "Well WE dont. WE have STANDARDS!" :glare::001_huh:

 

 

Haha! We have extended family that has CONVICTIONS. As in, "we used to love that movie, but that was before we had CONVICTIONS." (said by their 6yo) :lol:

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I also agree that it is a conviction thing. I took yoga classes briefly, but didn't continue with that particular teacher because she was fond of making us do the chant "I am truth" over and over again. While I may be cute, I have met Truth and it isn't me... :D

 

I do take martial arts - Tai Chi included. Almost all of the types we study are from Eastern descent (some exceptions), but I don't find any personal struggle between my convictions and my study of martial arts. Our martial arts school gives the history of the various forms, but does not incorporate any of the religious undertones.

 

Even so, we did have a family quit altogether because when the owners remodeled, they hung a piece of Chinese art on the wall. A family thought it looked too much like Buddha, and asked the owner if he was pushing Eastern religions now. He replied, "Nope. I'm actually Church of Christ, but I don't push that here either."

 

Two different families with two different convictions. :001_smile:

 

Bad grammar (like this sentence), but very funny :D

 

Unfortunately most people don't think it's unwise to "empty the mind" (if that were possible).

 

Christians are supposed to renew their minds. A huge difference.

 

If we spent as much time thinking about renewing our minds as we do exercising our bodies (which has its place), the world would be a completely different place.

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This is not a new thing. In fact, I'm surprised that there are still Christians who are not aware of the true nature of yoga and see no reason for not doing yoga. I learned this in 1974. :001_huh:

 

Does it surprise you that there are Christians who have heard this reasoning and just don't agree?

 

I just don't believe that worship can ever be an accidental activity. I don't see emptying my mind of stress, fears and doubts to be opening myself up to anything negative. I know far more Christians who practice yoga than Christians who find it contrary to their religion. I see emptying my mind to be meditative and reflective on peace/calm/love.

 

The benefits of yoga practice are immense for many- not just physically but for people's mental health. One way for me to help avoid depression is to not skip my yoga.

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Well faith, you may have Harry Potter and National Geographic in your home, but I think we can all rest assured that you won't be participating in any evil snake charming rituals! :D

 

astrid

 

 

:smilielol5::smilielol5::smilielol5:Nope, I'm with Neville! Off with it's head!

 

Faith - Of course, I'd be running and leaving the beheading to someone else :D

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This is not a new thing. In fact, I'm surprised that there are still Christians who are not aware of the true nature of yoga and see no reason for not doing yoga. I learned this in 1974. :001_huh:

 

I still see no reason for not doing yoga *as exercise* rather than as part of a spiritual practice. And yes, I have heard the reasons. I also know some extremely straight and narrow Christian women who use it to stay in shape. They can do handstands! God made our bodies to do that, but how many of us can?

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I think it all started years ago when folks started equating it with transcendental meditation. I recently started reading Holy Yoga by Brooke Boon. And she also has a website: holyyogafoundation.org On it she says:

 

"Holy Yoga is the intentional practice of connecting our entire being; body, mind and spirit with God; the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. With complete reliance on God's Word and prayer, Holy Yoga invites us to surrender and introduces us to Grace. When we breathe and move and have our being in Christ, we find ourselves in the flow of His magnificence. There is often a misunderstanding that yoga is a religion, it is not. Yoga is a spiritual discipline, much like prayer, fasting and meditation. Yoga has the capacity to enhance our personal beliefs and faith."

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I still see no reason for not doing yoga *as exercise* rather than as part of a spiritual practice. And yes, I have heard the reasons. I also know some extremely straight and narrow Christian women who use it to stay in shape. They can do handstands! God made our bodies to do that, but how many of us can?

 

:iagree:

 

Exactly. I'm not into the "woo-woo" yoga (sorry, but that's what I call it, :tongue_smilie:)where there's a lot of spiritual talk, but there are plenty of yoga workout DVDs that aren't at all like that. Yoga is great exercise, particularly for people who are way more flexible than I'll ever be, and it doesn't have to have a spiritual component.

 

FWIW, I'm not particularly into the "Christian" workouts, either, because I don't really feel the need to listen to Bible quotes while I'm exercising. Whether it's the woo-woo yoga or the Christian workouts, the religious/spiritual comments often seem kind of forced, like they were thrown in just so the producers could market the DVDs to a particular group of people. And even if some of the comments seem genuine, if you do the same workout frequently, it can get incredibly annoying to listen to them over and over again.

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I did yoga for a while, thinking of it only as exercise. Then one day the instructor kind of forced the namaste thing on me, and that was the end of it. Sad, because I really enjoyed it.

 

(FWIW, my understanding of namaste is 'the god in me bows to the god in you.' And that crossed my line of conviction. And while this may not seem a big thing to some, it didn't set right in my spirit, especially as it was becoming a "forced" issue.) I would love to have found a way to keep it up without the woowoo--as a pp put it :)

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I would love to have found a way to keep it up without the woowoo--as a pp put it :)

 

Yup. The Woo-Woo Factor. (I don't know what else to call it, and I know other people who use the same phrase about different yoga workouts. "Is it just yoga, or is it woo-woo yoga?" :D)

 

I mean no offense to the Woo-Woo crowd. I'm just not into it. :001_smile:

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