The subject of yoga is a surprisingly hot-button topic in some circles. Many Latin Mass priests insist that it is a gateway to demonic possession (as they do with many, many other things), the Greek Orthodox Church (the one in Greece, not the American group or the Ecumenical Patriarchate) has denounced it as incompatible with Christianity, and finally there is this podcast where a former Hindu is asked about it and gives a mixed answer.
For my part, I am aware that the practice is so closely tied with Hinduism that it would take a very discerning mind and soul to cut away the pieces of it that are worthwhile, if indeed such a thing is possible. What I also know is that those who gravitate towards the practice are over-worked and over-stressed white collar workers looking for a way to “detox”. I say that rather than look to Yoga as a relief from the stress, we should look into what causes the stress in the first place. We live in a brutal, machinist, and materialist society that has forgotten what it is to truly “have fun” (For heaven’s sake, we have even managed to make the sexual act dull!). People work by rote, sleep by rote, eat by rote, go out to eat by rote, go to church (if they do) by rote, meet with friends by rote, and “have fun” by rote.
Instead of even considering yoga, why don’t we look inside ourselves and see if we need rethink our priorities? Even if we cannot physically break from the routine entirely, we should at least do so mentally and spiritually. Make a daily prayer. Add to it and change up when you say it. Pull ourselves away from work or our computers and do something! Spend some time where you just empty your mind of the your worries (“Let us lay aside all earthly cares!”). Read a book, take a walk, forget about work, enjoy natural beauty instead of argue about politics or environmentalism (going outside is a good way to become a sane and balanced environmentalist, as you’ll either behold the utter hideousness of industry or the beauty of God’s creation).
I, myself, have been thinking about wading slowly into Hesychasm and implementing some of its ideas into my spiritual life. I might not last long or go very far, but it certainly can’t be a bad idea to try. Who knows… Maybe there is an Christian alternative to the ancient Hindu superstition?