The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Hindu leaders slam yoga for Christians

Teneshia Naidoo
Published:Mar 29, 2008

It’s hypocrisy, says Maha Sabha head, but Catholic teacher says it has helped her draw closer to Christ.

A Catholic spiritual teacher who encourages her pupils to find God through yoga has been slated by Hindu leaders.

Winnie Young, 96, has spent most of her life teaching yoga after studying under one of the world’s leading yogis, Yogacharya BKS Iyengar.

Young, who founded a national yoga institute in 1975, said people had a misconception of yoga as a religion. Her institute believed yoga was a tool to connect to God.

However, religious leaders in the Hindu community have criticised her, saying it is impossible to teach yoga from a Christian perspective.

Young said yoga had helped her draw closer to Christ.

Her institute practises hatha yoga, which advocates controlled breathing to calm the body and cleanse the mind in an effort to achieve nirvana, an elevated mental state.

“I have been led by my Christian beliefs, but I don’t do indoctrination. I teach as a Christian, my Christian principles guide me.”

In her book Yoga for the Christian, Young says while she realises that yoga is based on an Eastern philosophy, she can draw from the technique and knows where to draw the line.

She concedes that there are certain Hindu beliefs incorporated in yoga that Christians cannot accept.

But the head of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha, Ashwin Trikamjee, is critical of Young’s teaching.

“It’s hypocrisy of the highest order. I don’t understand how anyone can teach yoga from a Christian background. It is an indisputable fact that yoga has its origins in the East and in Hinduism,” he said.

He added that if Christians wanted to teach yoga, they should teach the true form and not be guided by any religion.

Kamal Maharaj, editor of Vishwa Shakti, a progressive Hindu newspaper, said that teaching yoga from a particular perspective defeats the purpose of the philosophy.

“You cannot come to yoga with a background. There is no perspective that you can imbed yourself in. To believe that there is a personal creator and each creator is different goes against the teaching of yoga. If one has to adopt yoga, one must come out of the box,” he said.

However, yoga teacher Kanchana Moodliar said teaching yoga from a specific perspective or background could not be considered incorrect.

“Yoga does form part of the Hindu religion, but does that mean we need to own it and not share it? Are we not about sharing, tolerance, embracing all and about making better people, no matter what their religion is?” she said.

“Yoga is a philosophy, and the practice is an exact science aimed at reaching a higher consciousness, so it can be adopted by anyone who has a yearning to connect with the Divine.

“So, whether yoga is taught from a Christian point of view or Hindu, as long as it enables the yogi to get into their bodies and through the body reach a higher consciousness, who are we to stop that?”

Father Desmond Royappen of the Catholic Church said the technique of yoga could help Christians quieten their mind and body to lead them closer to Christ.

He said Young employed techniques whereby she disciplined body and mind, leading her closer to God.

“Yoga is often misunderstood, but the technique of yoga can lead to great physical and spiritual health, although, for Christians, yoga is not to be used as a means of salvation but to draw them closer to their Saviour,” he said.

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At 6/17/2008 05:42:00 PM, Blogger CD-Host said...

Well I think its pretty obvious this article is nonsense. There 30 million American who do Yoga during any given year and 70k yoga instructors. Yoga in the United States presents a nice counter example to how you view evangelism. The Hindu community found a part of Hinduism that many in the west have found appealing, brought it over, gave it a culturally appropriate spin, and it spread like wildfire.

That's proselytizing being done well.


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