Yoga and T’ai Chi

GUEST ARTICLE

Yoga and T’ai Chi

Craig Branch

Many Christians bemoan the many decisions of the judicial system concerning the separation of church and state. But actually these decisions may prove to be important for Christians in using the government to respond to certain forces that are opposed to Christ (Romans 13:1-3). Christians do not appreciate decisions which diminish the preserving influence of God’s truth from schools, but we certainly do not want the promotion of ideology and practice of religions foreign to Christianity either.

We now live in a secular/New Age dominated culture and feel that the enforced separation of church and state should be utilized to everyone’s advantage. For instance, most colleges and universities are offering many New Age/eastern mysticism courses and they need to be challenged and removed. At the top of the list are yoga and T’ai Chi.

These courses are sometimes described in their true religious orientation but are often not. For instance in the University of Alabama-Birmingham Special Studies Catalogue, is listed under T’ai Chi Ch’uan, “an ancient system of movement-meditation practiced by Buddhist monks” (Winter 1990, p. 35). Yet on the preceding page Yoga is listed and described as “exercises (to) improve flexibility, muscle tone, coordination, poise and self-confidence.”

The issue is that any school which receive funds from the federal government cannot promote the ideology or practice of a religion per the separation and establishment clauses of Constitution.

What do we find when we take a look at Yoga? An examination of the yoga instruction books reveals the problem. “Yoga in its pure form embodies and teaches timeless truths. It is a universal philosophy. Yoga teachings based on Eastern philosophies can only have operative validity if ALL human minds are conditioned to function in similar patterns,” (The Road Beyond Yoga, George Randolph, pp. 9-11).

The author goes on to say that our minds must be changed into an Eastern process as opposed to Western rationality. “Yoga is a mental as well as a physical practice. Gradually you will perceive that it is not `you’ performing routine movements, but that the movements are flowing through `you.’ This is a point at which the ego is transcended and Yoga is no longer Physical or mental but rather a spiritual practice,” (Yoga For Total Fitness, Richard Hittleman, p. 11).

Yoga is an inherent and inextricable part of the belief and practice of Hinduism. “The purpose of yogic disciplines has been described in a great variety of ways: as the discovery of Truth, as the realization of Self, as the realization of the identity of Brahman and Atman, as the unification of man and God. These descriptions all point to the underlying concepts of yoga – yoga is a means of achieving union with the inner True Self, the God within.

“The Sanskrit word `yoga’ has two meanings. The first of these `union’ implies harmony, unity and stability. The second meaning, `yoke’ signifies the unification of the individual self with the divine,” (Theories of the Chakras: Bridge to Higher Consciousness, Hiroshi Motoyama, p. 30).

“It is true that yoga has several branches or divisions, but the goal, the aim of all of them is the same – the achievement of a union with the Supreme Consciousness,” (?Yoga for Americanso, Indra Devi, p. xxiii).

“Various are the ways Karma yoga, bhakti yoga, jnan yoga, raja yoga, laya yoga, Kundalini yoga. Included in the discussion of Kundalini yoga are hatha yoga. All the paths lead to the same height. A person might disagree with someone’s path, but he can never disagree with the goal, for the goal is one and the same,” (Choosing a Path, Sri Swami Rama, p. 25).

Many times when a program is confronted, whether it is being taught in a school YMCA, YWCA, or even a church, the argument given is that “this is only a fitness class” or “that Hatha Yoga is only a physical technique.” Again, we let the experts speak for themselves.

“Hatha Yoga, which is best know in the United States and Europe. The literal translation of the name – `Forced union,’ the individual has to be forced into understanding that once the physical body was completely conditioned, there could then begin a training and disciplining of the mind the heart and soul and operative dynamic of Yoga is meditation,” (Randolph, p. 42-44).

“Many people associate asanas (yoga positions) with physical exercise and vigorous movement. This is a misunderstanding for the actual meaning of asana is `posture’ a stationary pose in which the mind and body are relaxed and composed while the purpose of yoga asanas is to foster mental and spiritual, as well as physical health,” (Motoyama, p. 39).

“Hatha Yoga consists of several steps. The fourth is Dharana or mind control; the fifth is Dhyiana, or meditation; and finally there is Samadhi, the state of ultimate bliss and spiritual enlightenment. The last four stages of Hatha Yoga already merge into Raja Yoga,” (Devi, Ibid)

For those who claim that Hatha Yoga has only to do with physical fitness, read what are the underlying principles: “You cannot experience the joy of good health nor develop your full potential when your life force (ana) is continually depleted. Hatha Yoga increases the supply of life force,” (Hittleman, p. 9).

“Dangers exist even in those disciplines that move the novice along deliberately and slowly, such as yoga. It is well known in India, for example, that some Hatha Yoga practices are dangerous and can lead to insanity. An initiate or disciple who, while learning to meditate, succumbs to the unexpected powers he encounters,” (Total Meditation, Raymond Van Over, p. 153).

Concerning the practice of T’ai Chi, the name in Sanskrit means Supreme ultimate or transendent absolute in Chinese philosophy (A Dictionary of Non-Christian Religions, Geoffrey Parrinder, p. 271). The underlying philosophy is that of Taoism. The movements coordinated in T’ai Chi represent the balancing of the Universal Energy (Chi) through the complementary actions of Yin and Yang (Ibid). Its purpose is to produce physical, mental and spiritual health, by your harmonious movements with the Universal Energy flow.

Now is the time for Christians to challenge the promotion of these courses where appropriate. If they are offered at a publicly funded school, YMCA, or church, you have ample grounds to see them removed. Contact Watchman Fellowship for help.

watchman.org/articles/other
-religious-topics/yoga-and-tai-chi/

 

 

 

 

 

   

Comments are closed.