Downward Facing Dog

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
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 Al Mohler made headlines recently when he criticised the practice of yoga. According to an Associated Press report, Mohler stated that yoga’s idea that the body is a vehicle for reaching consciousness with the divine is “just not Christianity.”    

Of course, Christians who practice yoga are not using it to reach the divine consciousness. They are hoping for a more earthly benefit. They want to relieve tension, lose weight or tone their muscles. They are pragmatists not religious syncretists. Though I suppose the one may too easily lead to the other.    

In view of Mohler’s criticism and in the spirit of full disclosure, I feel that I must confess that I too have dabbled in yoga. That is to say, I tried the yoga module on Wii Sports. But not for long. I think it was the pose called “downward facing dog” that defeated me. I tried to follow the directions but somehow it turned into “Fat Man Without a Natural Sense of Balance.” I must admit that at that time I did not question the spiritual roots of yoga. Only whether it was really possible for me to arrange my limbs in the position I saw displayed on the screen. And who would help me get out of it if I succeeded.    

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Published by

John Koessler

John Koessler serves as professor and chair of the pastoral studies department at Moody Bible Institute. His most recent book is The Radical Pursuit of Rest published by InterVarsity Press.

5 thoughts on “Downward Facing Dog”

  1. Thanks for lightening up my evening with the image of you perched in front of your TV, trying to figure out how to do downward dog.

    Hope you’re doing well.

  2. I can’t help but smile not because of the image of you trying downward dog in front of the WII (though that is humorous too) but because I have often felt the same way when i’ve tried yoga (full disclosure for me too) with my wife.

  3. Okay – I, too, am smilng. Downard facing dog! I loved this – and it is really a good question to ask. I took one yoga class that really did not incorporate the spiritual aspect. Actually, the owner of the studio is Christian and holds meditation workshops that are Christian/Bible based. Others have had classes that have really pushed them into meditating that is primarily anti-Christian, emptying your consciousness, etc. I think it is best to walk into that experience with your eyes open. For me – now, whenever I use my Wii Yoga I will think of your experience.

  4. Dr. Koessler,
    That is hilarious! I continue to wrestle with the issue because I have used P90X for the past year which includes a yoga workout. And I’ve had the most physical improvement because of this particular component. (Note that it was limited to the physical…)

    I couldn’t help but notice that you did not present your position on the issue. And yet I recognize that this was not your intent. Thanks for the laugh anyway!

    SDG,
    Jonathan

    P.S. I was watching my grammar closely noting that a former English teacher was also commenting on the post. 🙂

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