by Pam Frost
These are surely shocking words to the ears of most yoga enthusiasts, who find the association of yoga with Satan to be both disturbing and incongruous with their own understanding and experience of yoga. Yet, so begins an article announcing yoga classes to be held in the Satanic Temple of Salem, Massachusetts. How could something so widely considered beneficial in every way suddenly be associated with the devil? Afterall, yoga has achieved status in the West as the seemingly ubiquitous answer for the general well-being of just about everyone—from children in our public schools to the elderly in assisted living, from those with robust health in the prime of their lives to those with terminal illnesses nearing the end of their lives, and everyone in between. Many healthcare professionals recommend yoga for purported benefits such as the increased strength, flexibility and balance attributed to yoga’s postures; for the reduced blood pressure and heart rate attributed to yoga’s breathing techniques; and for the inner peace and global harmony attributed to yoga’s meditative spirituality. Yet, while most acclaim what they believe to be the positive benefits of yoga, William J. Broad, in his New York Times Magazine article How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body, warns that it can actually cause serious physical injuries such as trauma to the back, neck and head, as well as brain injuries and even stroke. But as Christians, we also need to ask whether there could be real spiritual dangers associated with the practice of yoga. We need to understand what the essence of yoga really is.
The word yoga means “to yoke,” and the fundamental goal of its postural, breathing and meditative disciplines is attainment of enlightened consciousness that transcends the Creator/creation distinction until one perceives no distinction between himself/herself and the divine. This is essentially what the serpent placed on offer in the Garden of Eden. The traditional Hindi greeting “Namaste,” which opens and closes most yoga classes, including the one in the Satanic Temple, declares yoga’s quest for enlightenment and immortality through realization of inner divinity. The term actually means, “the divine light in me bows to the divine light in you.” Doubtless, most yoga practitioners are unaware that the familiar term represents a radical collision of worldviews, redefining both the doctrine of God and the doctrine of man as it reduces the divine to an impersonal force in nature and strips man of his dignity as created in the image of the personal Creator.
Writing for Yoga Journal, respected yoga teacher Aadil Palkhivala defines Namaste as follows, “The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra.” According to Palkhivala, Namaste is an essential component of yoga. The ritual is performed with palms pressed together over the heart, eyes closed, and heads bowed. Namaste is then reverently uttered in acknowledgement of the one divine consciousness believed to be shared by all, but only realized in those who have attained the yogic enlightenment of the heart chakra.
In yoga, the heart chakra is considered the energy center of divine love and the Namaste ritual is thought to generate the outward flow of love to unite the world. According to Palkhivala, Namaste “allow[s] the truth to flow…that we are all one when we live from the heart.” What people generally don’t realize is that Namaste is not merely an innocuous greeting, but can function as a powerful Oneist declaration of the divine as an impersonal, universal force. And, the “love” flowing from the heart chakra is not the personal redemptive love of our Creator for His fallen creation, but merely a warm feeling of universal consciousness. Rightly understood, Namaste is actually a direct refutation of the biblical Creator who is distinct from His creation, echoing the serpent’s temptation to seize divinity for oneself, and with it, the autonomous right to self-define what is good and what is evil. Thus, Namaste, might be better understood as an emissary of darkness disguised as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).
Nonetheless, for the last several decades, yoga has been marketed in the West as the holistic cure for body, mind, and soul. Its recent exponential growth in popularity has opened large marketing opportunities for innovators who package yoga to fit just about every conceivable style and fancy. A few examples are Paddle Board Yoga, Doga (yoga with your pet dog), Equine Yoga (yoga on horseback), Laughing Yoga, Rave Yoga and Tantrum Yoga, which, as its name implies, actually encourages screaming fits on one’s yoga mat!
With such heightened trendiness and diversity in yoga styles, one newcomer, Metal Yoga, also called Dark Yoga, takes a decidedly dark turn, blending traditional yoga movements with the screeching discordance of heavy metal and doom metal, both derived from the genre of Satanic Rock. As After School Satan clubs compete with Good News Clubs for the souls of children in many of our public schools, Metal Yoga has dropped the façade of enlightenment and love and openly chants, “Namaste, Satan,” to the devil in the Satanic Temple of Salem, Massachusetts, where it meets on Sunday mornings. This is yoga’s homecoming to the serpent’s offer of divinity by joining the opposites of good and evil. But we shouldn’t really be surprised. Namaste’s denial of the Creator/creation distinction and its declaration that all is one and all is divine, while promising enlightenment, actually leads the soul into spiritual darkness.
This is illustrated by Tina of Black Widow Yoga who teaches Metal Yoga in the Satanic Temple, describing it as a means to “harness the energy within that truly connects to doomy and dark music,” and thus naturally connects with the pagan “joining of the opposites.” Black Widow Yoga promises “the class will consume your body and mind into a place of focus and connection, while inciting the beautiful darkness within.”
The spiritual dynamic apparently at play in the union of yoga and heavy metal is the yoking of body and mind with the internal darkness of the sin nature (beautiful darkness within), empowered by dark spiritual forces. No wonder Metal Yoga feels at home in the Satanic Temple. A photographic tour of the Satanic Temple reveals the nightmarish and ghoulish environment created by its blasphemous Satanic artwork. Is the timing merely coincidental that during the time slot on Sunday mornings when Christians are worshipping the Creator and Redeemer on the Lord’s Day, those inclined to worship the divine within themselves (Romans 1:25) will be saying, “Namaste” to Satan through the practice of Metal Yoga?
Namaste is actually an apt metaphor for the serpent’s temptation of mankind in the Garden of Eden. In his own quest to ascend above the throne of God, Lucifer fell into irredeemable corruption as the devil. And by his spurious offer of divinity to Adam and Eve he planned their same demise. If only he could persuade them to taste the forbidden fruit presented as enlightenment and immortality; if only he could entice them to betray God with the metaphorical whisper of “Namaste! The divine in me worships the divine in you,” he would have succeeded in forever destroying the object of his jealousy: the image of God in mankind. Or so he thought. Adam and Eve did fall and left to their posterity the curse of sin and death. Yet the metaphorical Namaste uttered by the first Adam was not the final word. That word was uttered on the cross by the last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, who cried out with a loud voice, “It is finished!” as He drained the cup of God’s wrath against sin for all who come to Him.