As you consider Holy Yoga: Part 1

Holy Yoga, pose, woman, mat, Christian, blog, evaluate, discernment

As an occupational therapist trained in therapeutic exercise and as someone who taught aerobic exercise in clinical settings years ago, I have always watched the trending in the health and fitness industry.  I recently explored various fitness certification opportunities as part of my continuing education requirements as an OT, including those oriented toward low impact dance and yoga.  ROM Dance  was part of my repertoire years ago when working in mental health settings.  Match these interests with keeping a close eye on the alternative health industry that came on the heels of the New Age movement of the 1990s.  Early on I decided to match all of these observations against the available clinical research and especially the truth of Biblical scripture as guiding lights.

So is there a back-story?  Yes, there’s more!  I am seeking a gentle, supportive movement  practice, ideally consistent with my Christian faith, to aid in my recovery from serious illness.  The trauma of this serious illness has left me with several medical complications, deconditioning, weakness, physical limitations, and an altered body awareness that I believe can get better.  I had been exploring and pursuing some possibilities in the world of dance, exercise, massage, and traditional occupational and physical therapies when along came Holy Yoga:  a “community of believers on mission to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth through the modality of yoga.”

In a few blog posts, I will explore Holy Yoga and come to a personal decision about whether or not I will pursue it at this time.  I started my research at the Holy Yoga website then jumped right into some challenging viewpoints but not from the Christian or even medical communities.  Instead I listened to a lengthy YouTube video of Hindu philosopher, Rajiv Malhotra’s, interview of Holy Yoga Founder Brook Boon.  Talk about what the political world calls “opposition research!”  Below is the feedback I posted after viewing the interview.  My next steps will be to research the response of the Christian community and probably attend a class locally.

Here’s Part 1.  Stay tuned for Part 2!

Nice job Brooke Boon!  I might clarify to Mr. Malhotra that Jesus is God, the Holy Spirit is God, the Father is God:  the God of the Bible and NOT a manifestation of God.  Each person of the Trinity is one God, 3 persons.  Liken this to the fact that I am one human being but a wife, sister, and daughter or 3 person-alities.  Not an exact analogy but it can help understand that the one true God is a clear, Biblical distinction from the plethora of Hindu gods that are dead, powerless manifestations of their “god.”  But more on that theology is a discussion for another time.

Further, I really wish Mr. Malhotra would have had the decency to give Ms. Boon his interview questions beforehand, especially if he intended to debate the nuances of Hinduism and Islam in contrast to Christianity.  He said the interview was to be a “dialogue” however his theological questioning and word choices indicated otherwise.  His agenda to discredit Holy Yoga was polite yet clear.  For example, he said at the end of the video that Hindus must “be aware” and essentially wake up to what Christians were doing with Holy Yoga; he also claimed that Holy Yoga’s purpose was to evangelize.  Seems like evangelism may come with the Foundation’s outreach to victims of sex trafficking but wasn’t this an interview about the story, benefits and beliefs of Holy Yoga classes not the Foundation?  Might want to differentiate the two sir.

It was important for me as a born-again believer in Jesus Christ who is exploring Holy Yoga, to view this interview.  I saw clearly how someone who is not a Christian cannot fully understand the tenants of the Christian faith from, for example, literal translations of scripture.  These literal interpretations weaken Mr. Malhotra’s subtle challenges, arguments, and warnings about Holy Yoga.  Specifically, his references to “the law” were not about Roman law as he claimed but God’s law given to Moses (as documented in the God-inspired Old Testament) to help guide the nation of Israel.  The Mosaic law helped define right and wrong to a lost people, lost society, and provide guidance as to how to live.  It also instructed them on how to relate to God and atone for sins or wrongdoing.  This law was later replaced with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and New Testament teachings from Christ and His disciples.  Persons of various “religious affiliations” or “denominations” outside of Christianity seem to like to focus on “the law” concept instead of Christ’s concept of grace because they are used to the structure and constraints of rituals . . . as if it is the rituals themselves that make them somehow right or wrong:  better people or worse yet, right before their definition of God.  And their definition does not match that of the single God of the whole Bible.  Christians who are born-again believers are free to express themselves with various traditions, cultural garb, etc. (and even try on the dressings of others) but never look to them for salvation.  Cultural traditions/trappings have no inherent power.  Only faith in Jesus Christ alone can save:  bring us eternally into a right relationship with The One True God and eternal life.  It’s simple really:

John 3:16 New International Version (NIV)

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Of course we want to share our faith with others as our joy and calling as believers in Jesus Christ.  (Matthew 28:19-20).    Looks like a lot of fun to me, to find an established method of breathing an exercise while praising God!  Wish they didn’t use the Hindu words though, as it will be confusing to many who think that Holy Yoga is completely Bible-based.  There are gray areas for sure.  Holy Yoga borrows many traditions of Hinduism.  I hope that the classes clarify this for participants.  But is that enough to avoid it?  Or not find a way to enjoy its benefits?  Perhaps the earthly “gurus” of Hindu yoga could view the adaptation of the breathing and exercises of their yoga traditions as more of a compliment than a threat.  Such is the nature of humanity to not want their invention changed.  I am sure that the major drug companies don’t like competitors making generic copies of their drugs either!  But hey, children often imitate the characteristics of their parents and hopefully a lot of times this is a good thingy!  Imitation can be an expression of flattery, friendship, even love.

Because of the prevailing pull of the world on Jesus’ own disciples and their need to overcome it, Christ petitioned for divine intercession to keep his disciples “not of the world” by being sanctified through the word of God, which is truth (see John 17:16–17 below*).  Believers must guard our hearts in all pursuits with the truth of Scripture, spiritual armor (Ephesians 6), prayer, heeding the conviction/discernment of the Holy Spirit.  Mr. Malhotra quoted the apostle Paul extensively in his post-interview analysis.  Perhaps the apostle Paul just wanted to be friendly as he adopted some behaviors and garb of the people groups he was trying to reach out to with the hope found in Jesus Christ?  Surely we can understand this today.  Don’t we bring a gift a friend would like to his or her birthday party even if it is not our own favorite hobby, taste, brand, or preference?  Or let a co-worker listen to a CD of our music in hopes he or she will enjoy it and share it with others?  Let’s be clear, however, that the  lovely cultural trappings or activities that make life sweet are never equal to the incredible gift of salvation that comes from belief in Jesus Christ.

Please look beyond the rituals, the cultural trappings, the methods of exercise and breathing, the physical stuff of this world as you evaluate the practice of Holy Yoga.  Each believer in Jesus Christ must decide for him or herself, how to apply the real substance of the Bible (and of life for the believer) is the Word and the truth it professes to our daily lives.  Explore Holy Yoga with knowledgeable believers.  Pray about it.  Examine the world view of your particular instructor too.  And if everything checks out o.k., enjoy a really cool exercise/meditation class in the meantime.

JJ

*John 17:16-17 New International Version (NIV)

16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

Life as I know it

Sitting on the edge of change is a precarious place.  One does not know if change will actually arrive yet she (or he) can be hopeful, patient, exceedingly frustrated . . . .

In honor of the Bundy family, Nevada USA

In honor of the Bundy family, Nevada USA

There’s a scandal going on in the wild West of the United States this week, as the federal government’s Bureau of Land Management attempts to overtake the ranch and cattle of a family that has used the lands for decades.  Under the guise of protecting an endangered turtle, the government is not only rounding up cattle but cutting off water supplies; federal authorities are superseding State land rights and intimidating the family with physical force.  The conflict has incited anger from local ranchers and national militia in addition to the Tea Party (political party).  Underneath the issues may be a US Senator’s covert, personal involvement in building a solar power plant on the land in a $5 Billion deal with China.  This all comes at a time of unprecedented changes in our country.  A juicy story indeed.

This is an incredible time to be alive.  This is an incredible time to be an American.  This is also an incredible time to be a Christian.  We can easily look to the incredulous shift of power in our country from the citizen to the increasingly tyrannical government, laden with moral and civil/financial corruption, to see that life in these United States has changed.  The effect of Obamacare; immigration, voter and currency “reforms;” and more just may eventually make democracy in America a distant memory.  Sure there may be pockets of freedom.  However, that freedom is shrinking every day.  Can you say, “microchip?”  Don’t get me started on that one!  If this blog goes away suddenly then you will know that the NSA (National Security Agency) has removed my First Amendment rights to free speech.   While that is not o.k., there are more important topics to me which will never be silenced . . .

My incredibly wretched health challenges these past two years have reinforced beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is in control of everything.  He has been with me on my bed of sickness, making Himself real to me and sustaining me through it all (Psalm 41:3).  I draw my faith from the Bible.  Through His Word, the Lord our God tells you and me through the story of Moses that those who believe in the Lord are to:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Deuteronomy 31

Those words ring true today as well.  I have cried out to my Jesus during wretched, daily seizures and He helped me, comforted me.  My faith and resolve are strengthened not weakened despite the difficulty.  Further I am encouraged that when tyrannical kings came up against the Lord’s chosen people through the ages, He reminded them over and over again in the words of the prophet Jeremiah:

19 They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.  Jeremiah 1:19

This rescuing may be from illness or other trials of life; the rescuing may be from the consequences of something much worse to what beyond our control:  the wretched effects of sin and living in a fallen world.  The rescuing may not come until the day we die yet IT WILL COME!  After all it is because of the sin of mankind that we suffer.  Gratefully we are not alone in our suffering.  Gratefully there is an antidote to our suffering such that someday we are assured that it will end!  Related to our personal suffering, the Apostle Paul concedes that his own health issues were used by God for good:

Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.  (Colossians 1)

From these inspiring words I draw strength to persevere when my body is failing me.  What can I do?  I can write about matters that transcend the mundane issues of my day or even the crises blasting forth from every news channel.  Want Christian news?  CNN?  Facebook news?  Tonight Show news?  It is everywhere bombarding us with allegory, truth, and propaganda alike.  In the end this kind of news will not matter.  The God of the universe reigns above all.  He will come again in glory to rescue His own, to make things right.  That is Good News!  We can trust in His Word on this since before time began He told us, “I am.”  Evidence of his sovereignty goes beyond evidence of intelligent design.  Evidence of a loving and righteous God dwells within your heart and mine.  Think about it!  Otherwise we would not wrestle with themes of morality, existence, meaningfulness.  If God did not exist, I would fight my illness with whatever snake oil came along and the Bundy family would use their crisis merely to incite a riot (or worse, civil war) to achieve survival of the fittest and not to seek what is “right.”   Our search for what is right ultimately helps us hold out for the hope of heaven where all things will be made “new.”  (Revelation 21:1)  In the meantime:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.  (Philippians 4:8-9)

The power to do these things on our own exceeds our humanity.  The Lord adds His infinite increase though the work of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us when we come to faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ.  This blog will make little sense to you, Gentle Reader, apart from Christ.  I submit to you that finding the gifts of the Spirit in these alarming times [peace, love, joy, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, self control (Galatians 5:22-23)] are great rewards for becoming a Christ-follower.  These rewards transcend and redeem our personal suffering, the troubles around us, the regrets buried in our hearts, and so much more.

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.   (Jeremiah 29:11)

Those who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior have an undeniable asset in these times.  We know Who the victor will be in all things and this includes those things that are evil.  As some recite in the Twelve Step Programs of recovery from addictions, we will know that “this too shall pass.”  (See Revelation 21:4)  In the meantime we are to live our lives seeking the Lord and living as He commanded, guided in love by the Holy Spirit.

The decision to follow Christ has led me to the only way I could have survived many sorrows.  I submit to you that it is a great way to live life as I know it in the times that try our souls.

******************************

Here’s a meditation for believers to transcend the times, straight from the Word of God.  I pray that the frustrations posed by our tumultuous days will draw us to His throne of grace in sweet fellowship and will be used to bring glory to the Father Who loves us beyond what we can ever imagine.  In all things:

 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  (Romans 12)

 

 

 

 

Sending in the big guns

As the old Kenny Roger’s song, The Gambler goes, ya gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run . . . .

Today I chose to  . . . RUN!!!

Yes, it’s time for another crazy Lyme story.  Grab a cup of coffee and here we go:

The sharp neck headaches continue to be menacing, even with the recent slight slowing of intensity, duration, and frequency of seizure attacks.  Six months of intense daily episodes and a total of 1 1/2 years since they first began have taken their toll on my deconditioned frame.  It’s like having a little fender bender several times per day in a car that’s a little too small to support your head and neck correctly:  thrashing around, repetitively in one direction then another.  Enough is enough already!

Enter into the picture a new chiropractor.  He was referred to me by Dr. N because Dr. N thought he would provide a more comprehensive approach to treatment.  Dr. N has a no nonsense orthopedic practice that offers spinal decompression and traditional chiropractic care.  Dr. N had taken a long time to contact my Lyme Literate Medical Doctor (LLMD) so I kind of wrote him off after the first 7 treatments.  I wanted Dr. N to coordinate my care with the LLMD since I was experiencing so many tic and seizure attacks during treatment.  Paradoxically, even though I had seizure attacks during every chiropractic visit, I was feeling better!  The neck headaches had diminished, my range of motion had significantly improved, and I was back to taking short walks despite the ongoing episodes in the office and at home.  At least part of my body was functioning better!

But by the time Dr. N finally called me to share the results of his consult with my LLMD, 3 weeks had passed.  Dr. N referred me to another chiropractor whom he felt had a more “comprehensive” approach.  He was convinced that Dr. H could help me.  Seriously?

After meeting with Dr. H today it is pretty clear that they probably barely knew each other.  Dr. H had worked in the chiropractic building that Dr. N purchased when Dr. H opened his practice over 10 years ago.  I doubt that Dr. N knew much about what Dr. H really did as a chiropractor.  Today I met a wacko pervert salesperson who barely knew typical chiropractic treatment lingo, for example, pushing off an “automatic activator” as a type of chiropractic care.  The device looked like a football mouth guard with rubber tips attached to an electric handheld jigsaw.  Frightful.  I wondered if he had made it himself?

Shortly into what I thought would be a chiropractic exam, Dr. H asked if he could pray with me.  He had already professed to be a “Christian” and pointed to the pictures with scriptures on it in his waiting room.  Well that is nice.  Usually I look for the framed college degree certificates and a current professional license document — I did not see either, anywhere.  I said, “I guess so,” about the prayer thinking that I would learn a little about what he truly believed.  I had already disclosed that I was a Christian.  Ever notice that so many people throw around the term “Christian” and it has nothing to do with a heart surrendered to Christ?  The prayer was nice.  Then the “shoe salesman” song-and-dance began.

Dr. H’s sales pitch began right away guised as checking acupuncture points whilst holding a bottle of this or that supplement.  Later I recalled that he seemed a little nervous and displayed a very intense affect touching the pressure points around my rib cage.  I have seen many different chiropractors and acupuncturists in the past perform a similar exam so this one was not unusual, except for the collection of bottles.  His mannerisms were also unusual however.  He had started my visit 20 minutes late while finishing up with another patient.  (That patient left with a big bag of new supplements.  Hmmmmmm.)  I had mentioned at the beginning of my appointment that I needed to leave at a certain time (to go to the hospital to have my external IV flushed) so before long he started speaking faster and faster:  repeating himself, referring to the time, and bringing out a few more bottles.  Dr. H pressed for agreement with his assessment:  that the chiropractic adjustments would not hold unless I started a heavy metal detox protocol before my first adjustment.  The appointment today would be for “just talking.”  Would I like to start the protocol today?  Could I come back tomorrow to finish up the physical exam?  Or how about later this afternoon?  He could even meet me at his office at closing time!

Did I mention that his prayer sounded good?  Yes, it sounded like a typical prayer except for one word:  undressed.  He prayed to the Lord something about wanting help to “undress” the issues that I was having to be able to help me.  Undress?  The word stuck in my mind throughout the appointment.  What kind of a prayer is that?  Undress!  What kind of a medical term is that?  Undress.  Where the h*%$$ is your mind Dr. H?  I certainly am not a bombshell these days and was dressed very plainly with partially wet hair.  I would assess he is approximately the same age as I am.  SO WHAT.  And where is your office receptionist?  Do you always see female patients alone in your office in a more secluded part of the office park?

I did what I could to state that I would not be interested in any additional products at this time since I had just started IV treatments and could not risk ingesting anything else new.  I was interested in chiropractic care by a chiropractor who was skilled in manual adjustments of the spine.  He mumbled something about “manual” adjustments.  He could do those too but sometimes a patient needs the mechanical treatments of a device like the “U” jigsaw device.  I gathered my things as he was speaking and prepared to leave the office.  I paused and clarified if I needed to make a payment for his “consultation” and he said “no.”  We were “just talking” and I could take care of that in the follow-up appointment.  I said that I would need to call him back and went out the door.

Sitting in my truck I felt a strong tic zip rip out of my frame and jerk me around.  At this point I was aware that the session I had just endured was very intense and that there was a strong essential oil-type scent in the office and even stronger in the examining room.  Dr. H denied the use of any scented products and had opened the two windows for me, after which I expressed gratitude.  He also said that he was not aware of any water damage to the office (that would indicate a latent presence of mold).  So what was I reacting to now?  A short seizure attack followed.  I was pretty shook up that I’d had another attack in the middle of the day!  Why is this happening when I was not bothered at the time by the herbal scent in Dr. H’s office.  Of course I was definitely upset about Dr. H however!

I sat for awhile to allow time for my psyche and sensorium to recover.  Sometimes I never really know what sets off an attack.  Much later this evening I characterized the experience, the incident at “Health and Wellness” something or another as a form of spiritual warfare.  That guy was a fraud and weird!  He never smiled.  And he pushed products before ever completing a traditional chiropractic exam.  Yes, he completed a clinical interview of my history, reviewed the information that I provided on his intake form,  and threw up my x-ray films on his light box.  Yes there were two models of a spinal column on display in the corner and the typical educational posters on the wall that you might find in a chiropractic office.  But everything else was odd, was inappropriate.  Nope, I won’t be seeing Dr. H again.

One problem remains:  my x-ray films are still at his office!  I had not retrieved my films in my state of recovery after the seizures and time pressure to get to the hospital.  Well after talking to my husband about the whole ordeal tonight, what needs to happen next is perfectly clear:  it’s time to send in the BIG GUNS!  Steve graciously agreed to pick up the films for me.  Yes!  For me to go back could be an abusive encounter.  For my 6 foot 1 man of steel to go back to the office would be a different encounter altogether.  Tee hee!

Yeah, I was wrong when I was single, joking with my spinster girlfriends just 7 years ago:  sometimes you do need a man.  Sometimes you need to send in the big guns.  And this time I am grateful to have had some wits about me to get out of there before I made a bad decision or something worse happened.  As it turns out, Dr. H’s chiropractic license is current with the State of Indiana.   He has no sanctions or restrictions on his professional license.  Good for him.  Too bad for his next female patient.  I guess I’m going to have a neck headache a little longer.  This other headache is history!