Yoga poses are associated with the Hindu pantheon of gods and goddesses, are derived from the names of these gods and goddesses, affect subtle areas of our body and mind, and are simply dangerous. As Orthodox Christians, we should never attend schools based on Satanic philosophy. We should not twist our body and mind into positions dedicated to Satan. Just as the sign of the cross corresponds to the Life-Giver Jesus Christ, so the signs most common in yoga correspond to the influence of Shiva, the pagan deity of death.
I am reminded of the pilgrims at the foot of the Himalayas, who were looking for a passage between the icy sources of the Ganges River. Between them were two very different people: one was an educated geologist, and the other was a simple pedestrian with a backpack.
The geologist relied entirely on his own mind.
As he told others: “I know everything about the composition of mountains and valleys. I know how they are formed and why they are here. Look, I understand, and I really don’t need lessons in camp techniques, and I don’t have time to prepare for this trip.”
Thus, he left unprepared, but with a feeling of confidence that his knowledge was sufficient for such an expedition.
Meanwhile, a simple pedestrian with a backpack did not rely only on his wits. He played sports every day, trying to keep himself in shape, and at the same time met the local residents who passed through these mountains. He learned where to take refuge, what places and people to avoid, and thus knew exactly where he intended to go. He showed humility in his approach to this matter.
At the first snow storm, the geologist fell into a panic. He forgot everything about geology, and his path became difficult and painful. The simpleton remembered what those who were here before him taught him; Relying on their experience and remembering his maps, he walked around these mountains with great difficulty, but safely.
Only one person returned from this trip to new lands.
The proud man was never found.
The secret chamber of our heart is the starting point of every search. It is deeply hidden among dense thickets and thorns, in the numerous folds of our passions, thoughts and selves. From here, from the cage of the heart, our whole life may seem like a Russian nesting doll. When Christ appears as a gardener to clear away the overgrowth, we simply may not even notice Him. However, when we do not perceive Him, we, like the prodigal son, remember His bread and turn our face to Him, which is repentance.
When we live a life without Him, which is not really life, but swine-like existence and a mere husk of life, we experience a foretaste of hell. This often has a profound effect on a person. It is possible to experience fear of God, depending, of course, on how attuned one is to the spiritual life, and this fear encourages us to rely on His will, on His love and grace, developing humility to recommit our minds and hearts to the Holy Trinity. Every time we review our life, we experience a small death, and then we can rightfully say with the Apostle Paul that “I die every day,” and that to die is to gain, since when our hour of death comes, we “will not die,” but will live forever in God.
It may be useful here to remember how the soul is depicted in the iconography of the Church. If you remember, in iconography the soul is often depicted as a swaddled baby in the arms of our Father in Christ. In this way, we remember our dependence on God and long for the Father, finding peace in His arms and His love.
During Baptism and Confirmation we are witnesses of our union with Christ. For example, by renouncing Satan and spitting on him, we declare three times that we have united ourselves with Christ. It is Orthodox Baptism that begins to accomplish the saving work of the Lord in a person. Here the restoration of the true “I” begins, the exit from the state of decay. We could even say that it is the spark that urges the “embryo” into life.
Let us contrast all this with the phenomenon called “yoga”.
While in the Orthodox Church we are called to and affirm continuous union with Christ, yoga — which means "yoke", "to bind" or "harness" oneself to someone, to establish a union with someone — is an expression of union with someone or something other than Christ.
An educated and dedicated yoga practitioner is versed in techniques, many of which include invocations addressed to Indian gods, bodily postures dedicated to and named after Indian gods and goddesses, and the awakening of the "Kundalini Shakti" — a created energy depicted as a coiled snake slumbering in the spine. According to yoga, its creator is Shiva, the destroyer god.
For marketing purposes in America, yoga is presented as a set of stretching exercises, but yoga is not mere stretching. Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline that is built on the philosophy of the Vedas and the Hindu religion. It offers tools for revealing, or rather, unblocking mysterious energies that are very alien to the Orthodox Christian. Mere stretching, meanwhile, is simply physical relaxation of the muscles, and nothing more.
In yoga, many poses (“asanas”) are named after gods and goddesses. For example, the pose called Virankhiasana (named after the Indian deity Virankhya) is dedicated to Brahma. Vishnu is a famous god, mentioned several times in the Vedas; in the practice of yoga there are several poses named after his avatars. In Indian mythology, the manifestations of these avatars represent the numerous human and animal incarnations of Vishnu. Then there is the god Ananta, who even took the form of a snake, and the Anantasana pose is named after him. Then the snake incarnated into a man, Patanjali, the author of the yogic bible — the Yogic Sutras of Pantanjali.
Many yoga poses correspond directly to popular “chakras.” A chakra is what we might call an invisible spiritual pressure point on our body. Yoga claims that there is a “subtle body”, and just as we can rub any point on the physical body, increasing blood or lymph flow, in the same way we can influence the “subtle body”. Yoga poses massage these points, encouraging certain channels to open, thereby attracting “spiritual energy.”
Many yogis say that the Universe and everything in it is musical, vibrating, and related to frequencies. For example, reciting a certain mantra allows you to establish contact with certain beings on a certain frequency, in a certain dimension, with certain gurus, gods or goddesses. Asana poses also create a vibration, a call sign, by attracting energy — or several subtle energies — just as you would attract someone's attention by placing a candle in a window. Whether we realize it or not, whether we believe it or not, the reality is that the soul and body are closely connected.
Yoga poses are associated with the Hindu pantheon of gods and goddesses, are derived from the names of these gods and goddesses, affect the above-mentioned subtle areas of our body and mind, and are simply dangerous. Allegorically, one can look at yoga poses as a kind of combination to a lock. It is assumed that each "asana" or combination of asanas, over time of course, can unlock different energies.
And this is very important: in the vast world of yoga we find many ways to “break” these locks, many “back doors” to gain access to various hidden powers. These forces influence us and those around us, and are even known in yoga as white and black magic. I was personally initiated into these arts in the Yoga Capital of the World.
One of the goals of yoga teaching is to open the “chakras,” these gates in the body and soul, so that energy accumulates and grows within you. This energy is often imagined and described as a coiled serpent known as Shakti, or kundalini. The purpose of this practice, like the purpose of yoga in general, is to raise this energy into consciousness in order to achieve the realization that we are identical with God.
So what do we connect ourselves to during yoga?
“Asanas” and, in fact, all the symbols and patterns in yoga, especially “mantras,” are a false light, like the flickering of deep-sea angler fish. In yoga classes, you can often hear mantras in Sanskrit, and sometimes the instructor suggests chanting them, especially at the beginning and end of the class. These mantras may not be recited by you, but rather for you, through background music or images on the drapes and walls of the temple, ashram, and yoga studio.
Just as the sign of the cross corresponds to the Life-Giver Jesus Christ, so the signs most common in yoga correspond to the influence of Shiva, the pagan deity of death. These signs and forms include diagrams and amulets purportedly possessing occult powers in astrological and magical forms and known as "mantras", "mandalas", or "yantras".
As Orthodox Christians, we should never attend schools based on Satanic philosophy. We should not twist our body and mind into positions dedicated to Satan, even if we do not worship him. After all, the devil can take the form of an angel of light.
We, like moths, are often attracted to false, illusory light. When Christ comes as the Gardener, will we recognize Him? There is only one pattern of life, only one Uncreated Path for humanity, Which is the Path, the Truth, and the Life. He is the incarnate Logos, Christ the God-Man.