By Karis Carlson. Posted with permission from Baptist Bulletin May/June 2012. All rights reserved.
In April, the First Lady hosted the 134th Annual Easter Egg Roll, one of the oldest and most unusual presidential traditions. Over 30,000 people flocked to the White House to roll eggs down the south lawn, watch a cooking demonstration, listen to celebrities read children’s stories, take a basketball lesson, and…do yoga.
Michelle Obama introduced the Yoga Garden to the Easter festivities last year as part of her “Let’s Move” initiative to combat childhood obesity. Yoga has become one of the most popular forms of exercise today. Not surprising, considering yoga already was a fitness phenomenon without the presidential seal of approval. As Stephanie Syman writes in The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America, “There certainly was no better proof that Americans had assimilated this spiritual discipline. We had turned a technique for God realization…into a singular thing: a way to stay healthy and relaxed.”
Stephanie has succinctly summed up the entire argument of yoga for believers. Should believers condemn yoga for its pagan origin, or embrace it for its modern benefits? The Christian community is closely divided over this issue, and both sides are passionate about their viewpoints. So who is right?