Take a Pass on Yoga
This is a response to Agnieszka Tennant's "Yes to Yoga," which recently appeared on Christianity Today's website. Agnieszka wrote her article in response to my piece, "The Truth About Yoga," which appeared in Today's Christian Woman's March/April 2005 issue.
While I recognize Agnieszka's right to practice yoga, I've got to take a passand I feel compelled to encourage other Christians to pass on yoga, too.
I was deeply involved in the New Age before I became a Christian. Trances, channeling spirits, and past-life regression were normal practices for me back then. So was yoga.
Like Laurette Willis, whose story is featured in "The Truth About Yoga," I was raised in a Christian home. I accepted Jesus as a child, was baptized, attended a Christian school, and participated in Bible quizzing. When I headed off to college, I thought my faith was rock solid.
A Ouija board game in college started my journey into the New Age. It seemed so innocent at the timea plastic pointer on top of a piece of cardboard printed with the alphabet. It seemed like Monopoly or Scrabble. Though I'd been warned about Ouija boards by church youth leaders, this didn't look like anything that could hurt me.
It took many years and many prayers for me to let go of my New Age practices and to be healed from the pain they caused me. Until last fall, when I met Laurette Willis, I'd never met another Christian who'd come out of the New Age. (To be fair, I've kept pretty quiet about my experience.) Laurette told me she hadn't met any before, either. (And she's been extremely vocal about her experience.)
Both Laurette and I have met quite a few New Agers who'd grown up in Christian households, attended church, or even been professing believers.
Just before I wrote "The Truth About Yoga," I was looking for a stretching routine that would offer an alternative to yoga. I'd practiced yoga for years and loved the feel of stretching and relaxing from a day's stresses. But after I became a Christian, I sensed something spiritual about yoga that made me uneasy. (I later discovered yoga's Hindu origins and understood why I'd felt uneasyNew Age beliefs and practices are largely derived from Hinduism.)
So when I heard about a new exercise program dubbed "Christian yoga," I thought I'd found my alternative. And I figured TCW readers would love to learn about it, too.
I interviewed two Christian yoga instructors along with Laurette and had contacted others when I began putting the story together. As I was working on it, I felt troubled by some of the statements made by Christian yoga instructors and characteristics of their programs. At first, I ignored it, thinking I was hypersensitive and being too nitpicky because of my own New Age past. I became deeply concerned again when I discovered one of my intervieweesa Christian yoga instructor who'd been featured prominently in articles by several Christian publicationshad links to a New Age website on her Christian yoga site. I prayed about it, began deeply researching more than a dozen Christian yoga programs, and prayed some more. Finally, I contacted Today's Christian Woman editor Jane Johnson Struck. We agreed it was best to stick to a profile on Laurette Willis.
Laurette never contacted me about her PraiseMoves program, nor did she send promotional material to TCW. I didn't even know she was working on a book for Harvest House. I found her website through a search engine, and it was my decision (with support from the TCW editors) to focus on her story.