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.

Her Color is Lyme

I am pleased to share with the Gentle Readers of New Hope Beyond Lyme, a second guest blog interview!

Introducing:  Jennifer Steidl, a WordPress blogger from the State of Washington I met after we “liked” each others blogs a few times!  What interested me in reading Jennifer’s story is her devastating exposure to mold biotoxins as a child then her battle with several other serious illnesses including Lyme disease.  What kept me coming back was her gentle way of communicating her experiences and her faith in the Lord.  Please check out her blog at:  http://www.jeanvieve7.wordpress.com/ for more of her story.

And now let the interview begin:

1.  Tell us about your life before Lyme and the development of mold biotoxin illness.

It is actually hard to recall life before illness, we moved into a mold filled house when I was 11 so my (our) health deteriorated after that point. It started with fatigue, sinus infections, and various other symptoms. It took years to discover the problem was mold. We lived in the house 6 years, and after moving out our health started to get better for a time before auto-immune symptoms started to make themselves known.

2.  What role does your faith in God have in your recovery process?

It has been the essential element. I had times when I felt so terrible physically, and was so depressed I think I would have given up all hope if it weren’t for God. And knowing (even if it was only deep down at my core) that He had a plan and a purpose for me brought me through the darkness. I trusted that He led me to a team of doctors that knew what they were doing, and He would not have done so if it were not for the purpose of healing.

3.  How can I keep from blaming God or others for my illness or the things that are going wrong in my life?

I can honestly say I have never blamed God for years of struggles and illness. Been frustrated, angry, depressed, desperate, confused…yes, but not angry at God. I am not being arrogant at all, but rather I had to resort to what I knew was true of God; His character, and the way He works. I am a weak feeble-minded human being and I have doubted these truths many times….but somehow not at my very core. Dive deeply into His Word, pray fervently and honestly, don’t be afraid to ask Him why you are going through these struggles, He will reveal it to you in time. Be open to learning whatever He has to teach you during this time, and what He has given you to teach others.

4.  What are your favorite verses of scripture or Bible stories these days?

  • A Couple of my favorites:  Hosea 6:1-3 “Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. “He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, That we may live before Him. “So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going  forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth.”
  • 1 Peter 1:6-7 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

5.  What works the best for you with the difficult symptoms of Lyme and mold treatment?

It has changed over time depending what stage of treatment I am in, but one thing that has made the biggest difference in energy and weight loss has been Cholestyramine. It is used to rid the body of toxins that the liver alone can’t deal with, especially mold toxins.

6.  What 2-3 things do you look forward to the most when you are well?

In some ways it is still scary to hope too much (the fear of not getting to do what I want to do), but that is something I am slowly getting past. On a small scale I would love to really get back to biking. I have a goal of riding 50 miles in one day. Also I would love to get back to yoga. On a large scale I have always desperately wanted to travel, with New Zealand being my number one destination.

7.  Is there anything else you would like to share with the Gentle Readers viewing this blog post?

I hope with all my heart you have a good doctor or team of doctors that really know how to treat Lyme, it’s co-infections, and especially the secondary illnesses that accompany it; heavy metals, candida, parasites….If you do know that what you are feeling now is temporary, and it gets worse before it gets better. You can make it through. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor/s the tough questions. Do lots of research and know your illness as best you can. Reach out to others both to learn and be learned from.

Don’t let yourself battle this alone. I think this is one of the top struggles of Lymies because so few people are able to understand what you are going through. But be honest about your physical and emotional struggles with those who love you, don’t try and do it by yourself. No matter how terrible you feel at this moment, allow yourself to accept that you are in a privileged place (crazy I know). But God is drawing you closer, so let yourself be drawn into His arms of grace. There is abundantly more for you at this moment in Christ because all else has been taken away, hold onto it, embrace it, don’t let this moment pass you by.

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Thank you for sharing your story, your heart, and your hope today Jennifer.  I pray that the Lord will bless you on your journey and see your through to complete healing and wholeness.  Take care lady, :J