What is Yoga?
The word Yoga comes from the root word yuj (to bind together). Yoga is a term used for a number of Hindu disciplines designed to aid the soul's merging with Hinduism's highest god, generally involving moral restraints, meditation, dietary restrictions, and the awakening of physical energy centers through specific postures and exercises. This mystic and ascetic discipline by which one seeks to achieve liberation of the self also requires intense concentration and controlled breathing.
Yoga seems to have developed from three Eastern religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.
Hinduism is a highly developed social structure and religion and has as its religious trinity the Trimurti, consisting of Brahma (Creator); Shiva (Destroyer); and Vishnu (Preserver). To many Hindus, the Trimurti comprises the threefold manifestation of Absolute Realty: Brahman According to the 1986 World Almanac, there are more than 461,000,000 followers of Hinduism worldwide.
Buddhism, founded by the Buddha, Gautama Siddhartha, claims more than 249.600,000 disciples. Buddha taught that life is misery and decay, and that it has no ultimate reality. Mental and moral self-purification seem to give most Buddhists hope for liberation.
A smaller religion founded in Buddha's time is Jainism which emphasizes asceticism and reverence for all living things. This sect of 2,000,000 has greatly influenced Hinduism regarding the belief that all life is sacred. The Western world has in the last few decades embraced a watered-down version of this concept.
To be accurate, we should refer to Yoga as astanga-yoga (eight-membered Yoga) The Yogin (or Yogi) must go through eight stages on the way to union with Absolute Reality. The first four are hatha, the last four, dhyana. Traditionally, there are more than 840,000 postures in hatha. which is merely preparation for awakening a divine, powerful force within us, kondalini. Without exception, every posture in astanga-yoga has religious meanings and specific goals.
In dhyana, meditation begins in order to develop siddhis (occultic powers). Kundalli, incidentally, means "earringed one," and is one of the names given the Hindu goddess, Kal,. one of the chief components of Shiva. the highest Yoga god. Shakri's power, the kundalini force, lies coiled like a snake at the base of the spine. Kundahnialso resides at the bottom of the significant hollow tube, sushumna, which, according to tradition, runs through the spinal cord and up to the top of the head.
Through the practice of hatha. kundalini begins to arise, and continues through dhayma. Along the soshumna are seven special points, chakras, which represent sacred lotuses at the base of the spine, at the genitals, navel, heart, throat, between the eyebrows at the place of the third eye, and ultimately at the top of the skull. The highest chakra has Shiva as its deity. When the female energy of the earringed one reaches this lotus and reunites sexually with the male energy of Shiva, the Yogin achieves complete liberation: exotic, esoteric union with Brabman This effect is commonly known by serious Western students of Yoga as the "ultimate."
There are many unadvertised bizarre forms of Yoga, including khechari mudra, an exercise that has the Yogin gradually severing the tongue from its base by cutting it in tiny increments and rubbing an astringent on it so it won't heal When the tongue eventually reaches to the back of the mouth so it can close the nasal cavity the Yogin supposedly has an ecstatic surge of kundalini Another bizarre practice is amorila which is the drinking of urine which is thought to have redemptive qualities.
Occult Dangers in the Practice of Yoga
Louis Stewart, in h swell-documented book that teaches about and encourages occultism life Forces: A Contemporary Guide to the Cult and the Occult suggests that no one try it without the supervision of a good teacher. Since he's concluded that Yoga is 100% religious, he seems to imply that a good teacher will probably be either a learned Hindu or Buddhist.
"Although the peace I experienced in meditation so easily deserted me, notes Rabindranatn Maharaj in his book Escape Into Light, "the occult forces that my practice of Yoga cultivated and aroused lingered on and began to manifest themselves in public" (p. 74}. Occultic experiences became a common way of life for Maharaj. At the age of ten he studied under a famous Brahmacharya Nothing, ne declares, was more important than their daily transcendental meditation, the heart of Yoga, but it was potentially dangerous and horrifying Demons described rn the Hindu scriptures sometimes took possession of Yogins; kundalini power, if not highly controlled can, ne says, do great mental and physical harm Manarag reveals that because the lines between horror and ecstasy are very fine, the initiates where he was tutored were closely supervised
The practice of Yoga killed his father. He'd been a great Yogin. For the eight years leading up to his death, the elder Maharaj, in a deeply altered state of consciousness, did nothing physically for himself. He mentally left his family shortly after Rabi's birth, and was considered a god to be washed, fed, and changed. He died in the trancelike state he'd achieved through Yoga without ever speaking a word to his son.
Caryl Matrisciana believes her interest in Yoga began either by reading booklets in the supermarket or by watching a "Yoga for Health" television program which combined exercise instruction with what she terms the "subtle philosophy" that first attraction her attention. In God of the New Age, she describes her long-term association with Yoga, including a deep spiritual union she had with a cosmic consciousness ESP, psychokinesis, the ability to control the actions of others, astral projection, and levitation became the norm, along with a growing interest in Eastern religion and philosophy.
At first Matrisciana thought Yoga was helpful, but she later concluded,". the Hindu has no grace [God's unmerited favor]. He is trapped by the impersonal law of karma cause and effect." She documents many examples she's witnessed of Yogins doing violence to themselves. By the grace of God, Matrisciana escaped her involvement in Yoga and became a Christian firmly established in the Scriptures.
Ashrams and Yoga are intrinsically tied in with Eastern religious concepts of death, asserts Matrisciana, who was, incidentally, raised in India and is familiar with its traditions and religious beliefs, ann fluent in Hindi. Orthodox Hinduism teaches that there are four stages of life, ending with spiritual preparation for death. She explains that the Indian ashram has always been in existence primarily to teach people to die through Yoga meditation. Hindus learn to reduce their breathing down to a minimum, until it stops.
"I got into yoga," declares Joseph Todd, "and it worked for me. Yoga taught me that everything is god. The glass of water is a god. This table is a god. I'm a god. You're a god. The whole philosophy was to be at one with the universe. We all could become 'god-selfs'."
Testimony of a New Ager is Todd's chronicle of a time in life when he chose Yoga as the answer to his many problems. Meditating from three to four hours a day, Todd became involved with the use of levitation, astral projection, and the third eye as had Matrisciana. However, she plunged more deeply into the world of seances, while Todd dove into diet, psychometry, tarot cards, astrology, and the Human Potential Movement.
Yoga is integrally tied into a system of devout religious beliefs, primarily Buddhist and Hindu. As practiced in Eastern religious circles, it is considered the ultimate method for reaching religious self-realization, and can only be consummated by following prescribed physical postures, breathing exercises, mystical meditation, and diet, Thus understood it has no place in the life of a Christian believer.