Longtime yoga instructor Loa Freeman, who based the primary yoga studio in Springfield in 1993, has heard all of it earlier than.

The declare that yoga has “demonic roots” is predicated on ignorance and misinformation, she says.

Freeman was stunned and disillusioned when the Rev. John Lindell, pastor of James River Church, in October preached from the pulpit that yoga has “demonic roots” as a result of Hinduism has “demonic roots.”

Lindell’s 52-minute sermon is on YouTube.

Some 20 years in the past, Freeman tells me, she intentionally referred to as her Monday night time yoga class in Bolivar a “sewing class” in an try and keep away from hostile assaults that yoga is unholy or not Christian.

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Nevertheless, the Bolivar newspaper came upon about her secret yoga class and Freeman agreed to a narrative. It was revealed and she or he found her considerations have been justified.

“I received several anonymous calls threatening to burn crosses on my front lawn,” she says.

That by no means occurred, she tells me.

Freeman has taught yoga at each hospital networks in Springfield — St. John’s, earlier than it turned Mercy, and CoxHealth.

She labored with legendary basketball coach Charlie Spoonhour, who coached the Missouri State University males’s staff from 1983 to 1992.

“I helped them with things like body alignment when shooting free throws,” she says.

Freeman felt yoga had superior to the place it was extra accepted and higher understood.

 “I had hoped that we had moved beyond prejudices and the lumping of the science of yoga with mysticism,” she says.

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Sermon addresses all of the later criticisms

I watched Lindell’s sermon, and there was little he stated that stunned me. 

Also, there is not a criticism that is been lodged towards him since my colleague Alissa Zhu’s story ran this week that he didn’t already handle within the sermon.

I’ve practiced yoga on and off for years. I do it for a really targeted cause. I consider it helps me turn out to be extra versatile, which makes me a greater runner, one much less more likely to be injured.

After watching the video, I do not consider Lindell is both misinformed or ignorant. Clearly, he put a lot analysis into his sermon.

What it’s a must to perceive is that Lindell approaches yoga by way of a literal, Assemblies of God interpretation of the Bible.

In the sermon, he addresses practitioners identical to me. He understands that folks do yoga for the bodily advantages with out as soon as considering about Hinduism.

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He acknowledges that yoga has grow to be pervasive in our tradition and for a lot of, it’s little greater than a routine of stretching and exercising.

“Yoga, it appears is in all places. For instance, when you go to the native Y and also you go on their web site and also you click on on the healthy dwelling link, you can see a minimum of 31 references to yoga: superior yoga, starting yoga, chair yoga, mild yoga, scorching yoga, prenatal yoga, restorative yoga, sona yoga, vinyasa yoga, yin yoga and yoga.

“My level in mentioning the Y is to not decide a struggle with the Y. The Y does some very admirable issues locally. Simply, although, I’m utilizing the Y for instance of the prevalence and acceptance of yoga in our tradition and the overwhelming embrace it has acquired from a corporation whose roots are decidedly Christian.”

Lindell makes use of “demonic” to describe anything that prevents or hinders a connection between a person and God — with “God” being what he and lots of evangelicals think about the one true God of the Christian religion.

Hindus and Buddhists won’t go to heaven and can spend eternity in hell, they consider. 

There is not any disputing, he says, that yoga is rooted in Hinduism, and, subsequently, in his view, it’s “demonic.”

The solar salutation, for instance, is a type of worship of the Hindu solar god, Surya, he says.

Have I ever as soon as thought that whereas performing the solar salutation that I used to be worshiping Surya? 

Never. Instead, I am sometimes considering: Why am I so sore?  

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God is jealous and will get indignant so much

Lindell needs his congregation to a minimum of contemplate that they only may be worshiping a false idol.

Why?

Because of the Bible’s first commandment: “I’m the Lord thy God, thou shalt haven’t any different Gods earlier than me.”

Have you learn the Hebrew scriptures recently? God is jealous and will get indignant rather a lot.

In the sermon, he first talked about the risks of dabbling within the paranormal and occult, together with fortune-telling, psychics, Ouija boards, horoscopes, tarot playing cards, Wicca, speaking with the lifeless and leisure that focuses on zombies, ghouls and haunted homes. 

 “Walking Dead” followers, he is speaking to you.

He saved yoga for final and appeared to know it might be the hardest promote to his congregation.

“How did we make the leap to yoga?” he asks.

“I do not do it to make anyone mad. If I made you mad, that’s unlucky. But I’ve a duty earlier than God as a shepherd of souls to say, ‘I informed you the reality.'”

If you employ yoga for flexibility and core power, Lindell preaches, have at it.

But do not name it “yoga,” because the word “yoga” brings you proper again to Hinduism and, in his view, worship of one other God.

As for me, I’ll maintain calling it “yoga” and continue to call myself a “Christian” — and hopefully, turn out to be a greater runner.

Unlike the Reverend Lindell, I don’t consider all Hindus, together with, as an instance, that ne’er-do-well Mahatma Gandhi — and all individuals of all different faiths — will burn in hell for eternity.

But I see no hurt in his sermon —  aside from some God-fearing fair-weather yoga practitioners may briefly cease taking courses. 

To me, that is like readers who learn one information story or one column that they do not like and cancel their subscription. Odds are, they are going to be again.

But right here is the place I do see hurt.

It’s when the reverend preaches — as he has done in the past —  about the sinfulness of homosexuality. From the pulpit, he instructed congregants in 2015 to vote towards a measure that provided protections in housing, employment and public lodging. The measure was rejected.

Some of his followers now say he’s being persecuted for his views on yoga.

I do not assume so. His preaching on homosexuality hurts actual individuals who love God. In my opinion, that is an actual persecution that historical past won’t view kindly.

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These are the views of News-Leader columnist Steve Pokin, who has been on the paper 6½  years, and over his profession has coated every little thing from courts and cops to options and fitness. He might be reached at 417-836-1253, spokin@gannett.com, on Twitter @stevepokinNL or by mail at 651 N. Boonville, Springfield, MO 65806.

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