It is not uncommon for Orthodox Christians to participate in a yoga class. It is normally seen as good exercise for the body. But are you aware of the source of this practice and the purpose of many of its exercises?
There was an article recently the NYT about yoga and sex scandals. It was about the founder of Ansura one of the world's fastest growing yoga styles who is accused of sexual impurities with female students. But this is not why I reference this article. It goes on to highlight the nature of yoga practice and it's roots.
Did you know that this practice began as a sex cult? Hatha yoga is the root of these practices and it began as a branch of Tantra. This was a group who sought to integrate the male and female aspects of creation into a blissful state. Their rites included group
and individual sexual acts. Hatha yoga was developed as a way to accelerate the Tantra agenda. The article says, "it used poses, deep breathing and stimulating acts -- including intercourse -- to hasten rapturous bliss. In today's yoga practitioners, such as B. K. S. Iyengar, worked to remove much of the Tantric influence. But the reality remains that the practice of yoga increases sexual passions. Pelvic regions feel more sensitive and orgasms more intense.
Scientists have studied this practice measuring testosterone levels, brain wave patterns, and blood flow through the genitals. They found the effects of such exercise "was strong enough to promote sexual arousal not only in healthy individuals but among those with diminished libidos." Other clinical studies in India report "wide improvements in sex lives." Others at Rutgers University show participants can think themselves into states of sexual ecstasy, a form of masturbation.
The article points out that baby boomers of today who experience the arousal, sweating, heavy breathing and states of undress found in yoga classes have led to the following action. "In 1995, sex between students and teachers became so prevalent that the California Yoga Teachers Association deplored it as immoral and called for higher standards." Numerous famous teachers have been accused of molesting women including Swami Muktananda, Swami Rama and Swami Satchidananda.
The article concludes, "But perhaps--if students and teachers knew more about what Hatha can do, and what it was designed to do--they would find themselves less prone to surprise and unyogalike distress.
The Orthodox way of life involves taming the passions, not enhancing them, so that we can better make choices in our actions that are Christ like. With true faith, we love God and have an intense desire to follow Him and to become like Him. Yoga can be a dangerous practice for one who is serious about developing their relationship with God following the Orthodox way. If you are involved in a yoga program, I advise you to study the roots of the exercises and to seek more conventional forms of exercise.
Elder Paisios comments on yoga:
They strive and they strive, and what do they achieve with it? Orthodox self-restraint and spiritual ascesis in general always aspire to a loftier spiritual purpose: the sanctification of the soul. Their satanic, worldly ascesis is only implemented to give them a flexible body so that they can contort arms and legs like a paper puppet, and so that other foolish people might admire them and the silly demons can ridicule them.