Several years ago one of my Southern Baptists sisters was really into fitness. Strength and resistance, aerobics, flexibility. You name it, she was doing it. So she approached our young Southern Baptist pastor about hosting some fitness classes in the fellowship hall of First Baptist Church of Small Town.
He was very receptive to the idea. He thought it would be a great way to get
some more butts in the seats new blood new members. He didn’t ask any questions, really, about what type of exercise would be done. He just knew that some ladies would be meeting there three days a week to get their exercise on.
Weeks passed and my friend held all types of classes. She led step aerobics, jazzercise style classes, light weight training classes, and flexibility classes. Young Pastor was good with all of this because it was, it seemed, accomplishing his ultimate goal. Women were excited about learning new things, losing a little weight, and feeling better about themselves. Non church members were starting to attend not only the classes, but worship services too.
All was well until he happened to peek in on one the flexibility classes one day. He was appalled to find fifteen women sitting quietly…meditating.
He broke the silence, “What’s going on in here? Is this what I think it is?”
Laura, startled, answered, “I don’t know. What do you think it is?”
“Well, it looks like Yoga to me”, he replied. “Please tell me this isn’t Yoga.”
“Very basic Yoga, yes. We just started into our meditation. Would you like to join us?”, Laura managed, not at all sure what he seemed so upset about.
“Uh, no. I think you need to wrap this up and we need to talk about what’s going on here. When they’ve all gone I’ll be in my office.”
They did talk. She attempted to explain that they weren’t practicing transcendental meditation; she had given a Bible verse to meditate on. It was harmless. They were using their meditation more as a prayer time. Then she tried to explain the physical benefits of Yoga. To no avail. He was having no part of it. Even if we weren’t using it in an evil manner, spiritually, some of the poses were just so suggestive. We’d be positioned in ways that displayed our hoohas! Downward Dog was entirely too provocative.
The following Sunday Young Pastor preached from the pulpit about the dangers of mystic religions(oh, the irony), how Yoga was of Satan and no good Christian should practice such things. Even the mere appearance of evil should be avoided. Yes, Yoga was straight from the pit of hell.
She didn’t hold any more Yoga sessions. In fact, after the lashing from the pulpit, the classes fizzled altogether. Women quit going. As with many things people get excited about in church a big bucket of icy cold water does wonders to drown any ideas outside of the teeny, tiny box of ideas you are allowed to choose from. Please, do not think that you can think. That thought was not in the box of choices. You must have brought that one in from outside. Take it back out.
As a result I viewed Yoga as evil, sinful, bad. Even after my defection from Christianity I retained a strangely negative view of the practice. I viewed it as mysticism; something I certainly wanted no part of. I’m learning that I have developed some, mostly ignorant, preconceptions of anything even remotely spiritual. It’s funny how even after we’ve thrown off a worldview pieces of it linger on without examination.
Well, no more. Pardon me while I go try to tie myself into a knot.
January 25, 2014 at 3:38 pm
rotflol . . . let me know if you can get into the knot and I especially want to know if you can get out of it! 😆
In the days of the dinosaur I was a fitness instructor. I did a fitness seminar at the church, church approved etc.. I ran a class and used Christian music. Half the class loved it, the others who did not, gossiped about it behind my back and as is the case with gossip, it made a path back to me and I learned the women said it was “sinful” because we were moving our bodies. We were dancing. Baptist’s don’t dance. 🙄 Don’t even bring up David dancing. David wasn’t a Baptist. 🙄 (My poor eyes.)
I was young. I was devastated. I did not proceed to start classes that some of the women suggested. I could not do anything that would cause another to sin. *sigh*
I wonder, have Christians ever stopped to consider that their religion is eastern and rather mystical?
And yes, Yoga is a gateway to Satanic stuff. Yup. Been there, done that.
January 25, 2014 at 8:17 pm
Ha! I haven’t advanced to the Sleeping Turtle yet. 😉 IF I got into that position His Lankiness would have to call 911 to get me out. I’m doing very basic Yoga. Mostly for stress reduction and chronic pain management. Thankfully, it is working. I wish I’d started it sooner.
January 25, 2014 at 8:25 pm
I remember the first time I read our church by-laws. I failed miserably at being a good Baptist. It should have just said: Read your Bible and don’t have fun!
January 25, 2014 at 4:35 pm
I did yoga for awhile (post Christian) and it was very enjoyable. I’m just too lazy to do it now 😉
January 25, 2014 at 8:21 pm
I really am enjoying it. I’m doing other forms of exercise, too, but I find this very relaxing. I’m not very flexible so I’m taking it slow and steady.
These shorter days and cold weather kinda mess up my jogging since I don’t have a treadmill(and don’t want one).
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January 26, 2014 at 2:11 pm
Oh to be that flexible! I should get back to my T’ai Chi. The mental vacation while doing it was wonderful!
January 27, 2014 at 6:29 am
Ain’t that the truth?!
I’ve only been doing this very basic Yoga for about a month, but I’m loving it. I’m learning to clear my mind and relax.
January 29, 2014 at 6:36 am
Could you clear mine while you are at it? 😆
February 6, 2014 at 12:08 am
I’ve enjoyed yoga for awhile now but I drew the line at attending my church’s yoga class b/c they called it “Yahweh Yoga”and I’m certain Christian music and Bible verses were used. Why does everything have to be Christianized to be acceptable? Glad you’ve come to the mystical, dark side of the exercise world 🙂
February 6, 2014 at 9:05 am
Yahweh Yoga, huh? Nice and creative!
I’m not sure why except that maybe since it is a gateway to the underworld Christians need to sanitize it so they can enjoy the benefits of it without indulging in the dark underpinnings.
It really just kind of cheapens it though and makes it really, really cheesy. I’ve become lactose intolerant. 🙂
June 16, 2014 at 10:49 am
“He was appalled to find fifteen women sitting quietly…meditating.”
Oh my. Same old, same old. One of my friends was fired from her teaching job after a newspaper article was published about her being a yoga instructor (not at the school). She had a master’s degree, and had been teaching at large private school. It was not a Christian school, per say, but she lived in a city in South Carolina. This was about 15 years ago. She was traumatized by the experience, and she was shamed for being a “tool for the devil”.
June 16, 2014 at 11:51 am
It is, isn’t it?
She didn’t have grounds for a law suit with that one?!?
June 16, 2014 at 12:08 pm
Ruth, no doubt she did have grounds, but she was so traumatized by the experienced, and being shunned to boot, that she felt is wasn’t in her best interest, mentally, to file a lawsuit. She started teaching in another state, and looking back, she told me it was a good move on her part.
June 16, 2014 at 8:45 pm
“As a result I viewed Yoga as evil, sinful, bad.”
Were you attending the class, and present when the pastor made this scene?
June 17, 2014 at 8:21 am
I was there. So was his wife. He didn’t appreciate that at all. I think might have been more worried about how it looked than that he actually thought we were practicing some kind of satanic ritual in the church fellowship hall.
June 17, 2014 at 9:59 am
Ruth, the first thought that came to me when you said that he might have been worried about how it looked was that he was probably getting a boner and/or worried other “godly” guys would too.
June 17, 2014 at 11:33 am
Maybe…I don’t know about that. I hadn’t considered that angle of it. My impression was that, while he didn’t want an Eastern Mystical Meditation practiced in his fellowship hall, he absolutely didn’t want wind of his wife practicing it getting around. What would people think?!?
I haven’t even read the story yet, but based on the title…ugh! It’s always the wimmenz fault. ‘Cuz menz can’t be responsible for their own actions and attitudes.
June 17, 2014 at 11:40 am
Male-dominant religions love their scapegoats.
June 18, 2014 at 7:24 am
Another amazing story about your strange past life. If I didn’t know it was true, I swear it sounds as fictitious as those biblical tales.
I did that wicked TM! Pagan heathen that I am. Had to take a piece of fruit, a piece of white fabric, and some money of course. This was years ago, actually recommended by a friend on one of my MBA summer schools, he said it was great for reducing stress.
Mostly it’s great for sending me to sleep, but we did have one very good group session and it really felt like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I still do it from time to time. I’ve never got round to the yoga. Local classes are quite expensive and you need time to build of a level of fitness. Not something for me right now!
June 18, 2014 at 7:56 am
Strange past life? I guess because I lived it, and it is so common here, it doesn’t feel strange to me. I feel like a stranger in a foreign land for not believing this stuff anymore.
Mostly it’s great for sending me to sleep,…
That probably means it was doing what it’s supposed to…reducing stress. I found a very gentle (not that you could do it now) beginner yoga instruction online. It would be quite easy to fall asleep holding some of those poses. All yoga doesn’t have to be difficult or require fitness, though some flexibility might be helpful (which I have none of).
June 18, 2014 at 9:06 am
Even when I had only had had a couple of ankle incidents ie by early senior school, I couldn’t do a half lotus let alone a full one. That did put me off slightly.
Now interestingly, my non-practising nominal Christian parents weren’t keen on yoga. That may have not spurred me on to practise. I think they thought it was whacky eastern corruption. Fascism probably trumped religion though.
June 18, 2014 at 8:18 am
My son does yoga. I used to do it as a youngster and tai chi. At one time my mother suspected I was doing drugs when she came into my bedroom to find me doing a headstand against the wall
, eyes closed mumbling something – probably ‘Om’.
I eventually stopped. The suspicion and bloody stupid questions became too much.
Twenty five years later she confessed discouraging me was a dreadful mistake.
This is another in a long list of reason why I effing detest religion.
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March 15, 2018 at 6:10 pm
May I call you Ruth? My wife provided a link to your post. I recognize it is from a few years ago, but it tied into a conversation I have had with my sister on several occasions. This a great story. I hope you don’t mind, but I provided a link to your post. Thanks, Keith