Christians get into a devil of a twist over yoga
The lotus position is the work of Satan say fundamentalist groups who want a ban. Hattie Sellick reports
Sunday 04 May 1997
They claim that the 30,000 people in Britain who enjoy yoga - long considered harmless by the public at large - are unaware of the "dangers".
Not only, according to one group, the Reachout Trust, is yoga in essence a part of Hinduism and may lead to out-of-body experiences, but also it can have occult links, says another, the Agape Christian Fellowship, which says in a leaflet, Yoga - the truth behind it: "Yoga is cleverly disguised devil-worship and has nothing to do with the TRUE GOD and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ - HE FORBIDS IT!"
A spotlight was shone on the religious tizzy that yoga can get people into when a Japanese yoga teacher in Bideford, Devon, Atsuko Kato, was banned last week from using a Salvation Army hall for her class after complaints by parents of children who used the hall for other activities, claiming that yoga was a cult activity involving ritual and chanting. Ms Kato says she was simply leading "a class about exercise, breathing, relaxation and a bit of meditation".
Yoga's Christian opponents say the problem lies in its links with Hinduism. Yoga forms an important part of the Hindu meditative process and one of the aims of Hinduism is to come together with a higher being, even become God.
"Yoga is a way for the Devil to gain entry into a practitioner's life," says a Christian former yoga enthusiast quoted in the Agape Fellowship's leaflet. Doug Harris, director of Reachout, a less fundamentalist organisation than the fellowship, feels that yoga is not compatible with Christianity and thus should not take place in a church hall.
He spreads his message through literature and talks all over the country and says he has "written explanatory letters to ministers who show concern for the potential conflict".
All this leaves Britain's yoga enthusiasts bemused. They acknowledge that there are many forms of yoga and John Cain, chairman of The British Wheel of Yoga, encourages people to learn with a teacher certified by The British Wheel. They have approximately 1,700 registered instructors who teach in local education authority halls and sports centres throughout the country.
Mr Cain sees yoga "not as a religion, but as a spiritual practice that will strengthen your beliefs".
He views the opposition to yoga "with a sense of sadness about their misunderstanding" and mentions the names of a nun and a practising minister who are happy to talk about the benefits that yoga has given them.
One such minister is the Rev Jonathan Hopcraft from St John's, Wolverhampton, who has practised yoga for many years and does not find any conflict with his faith.
Despite several appearances in the press, he has not received any information from anti-yoga groups, but he is cautious in his support. "I can understand their position, as some groups are secular but some are based on Hinduism, especially the mantra," he says.
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 3 Belgium fan Axelle Despiegelaere lands L'Oreal campaign after World Cup viral photo
- 4 Britney Spears sings 'Alien' without Auto-Tune in embarrassingly brilliant leaked audio clip
- 5 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Instagram of US airport security chiefs: Lipstick knives and IED training kits among items seized
‘Ryan Gosling got someone pregnant and it's not me. Brazil you think you’re devastated…’
Israel-Palestine crisis: ‘We just want it to end… We don’t deserve to live like this’
Israel-Palestine crisis: Eight killed in Gaza Strip cafe while watching World Cup semi-final
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
Vanessa Feltz criticises 'vile' reaction to Rolf Harris allegations
£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...
£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...
£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...
£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...