I am presently in the deep South where I grew up. It is almost obligatory here to peruse a recent edition of Southern Living. On the coffee table was an issue of Southern Living featuring the beautiful Hydrangea, a pink and blue plant that has fascinated me since I first saw it growing alongside the white frame houses of the gray and white-haired ladies in my little, Louisiana hometown. Excitedly, I turned to page 78 for the feature story on growing Hydrangeas. Disappointedly, the article turned out to be the story of Mark’s hydrangea parties instead of Mark’s hydrangea plants. The photos were nice, but the article left me longing for more of the glory of my southern heritage—not that kegs of beer and party music weren’t part of my heritage. Surely, they were, but I had hoped for a more positive review of my own history and of the glory of the hydrangea.
Undaunted by the lack of fulfillment in the first article, I continued to review this catalog of Dixie living only to unfold an even greater letdown. Another article featured a Miami-based Yoga instructor who lovingly volunteers her time to teach poor kids the secrets to Yoga. Whatever one wishes to say about Yoga, he ought not refer to it in any sense remotely related to cornbread, iced tea, or hydrangeas. Yoga is not a southern tradition—unless you are referring to southern Asia. Yoga is clearly an eastern tradition, originating from Hinduism. Surely, it is practiced by many in the South today, but this isn’t because it is part of their heritage. It is, instead, a result of the neglect and diminishing of that heritage.
The article was a glowing review of the peace and tolerance of Yoga and how it benefited the public school kids in troubled areas of Miami and the rest of the South. Interestingly, the article did not mention any conflict of interest between church and state, between religion and government education, even though it is undeniable that Yoga is part of religious practices of Buddhists and Hindus. The goal of Yoga is to achieve balance with the forces of the “moon” and the forces of the “sun.” The balance, of course, is one of spiritual lobotomy, whereby the person learns to pursue neither love nor justice. He simply purifies himself from all desires as he is absorbed into the greater balance of reality. None of this is mentioned (at least not forthrightly) to the little southern school kids.
People who practice Yoga are in danger of being sucked in to the illusory peace of eastern inactivity. We do not live in a passive world of balancing the force—a fact which should be obvious to anyone who has watched the murder and mayhem prevalent in Star Wars. The comfort and affluence purchased by the Christian work ethic has provided southerners the luxury to comfortably pursue Yoga. In India, where Yoga originated and has been practiced for centuries, there is sewage, starvation, and gross oppression of human beings in an entire class of 300 million people are considered less valuable than dogs. Eastern religion offers no heritage of which southerners should be proud. I am disappointed by its being featured so glowingly in Southern Living.
I am disappointed, too, that so many are willing to imbibe in its illusions from their own contexts of comfort brought about by the heritage of the Christian South. If you are a Christian, I would urge you to avoid Yoga. You know that you cannot be purified by balancing your mind and body with the forces of the sun and moon. That is pagan nonsense. In fact, you cannot be purified by any form of exercise or religious work. Your purification comes from another—One who Himself was pure and offered as a sacrifice for your sins and impurities. Indeed, through the sacrifice of the pure and spotless lamb of God, you have come to see the fulfillment both of love and justice. Don’t be fooled by the eastern impulse to avoid the fulfillment of love. Even the pink and blue snowballs of southern hydrangeas pale in comparison to the crimson cross belonging to their redeemer.