YOGA, SATAN AND PIZZA

Me at 12 years old standing in front of First Street United Methodist Church the day I was baptized and confirmed...just in case anyone needed proof it happened.
Me at 12 years old standing in front of First Street Methodist Church the day I was baptized and confirmed…just in case anyone needed proof it happened.

In the past two weeks I have been informed that people in my community believe that yoga is “satanic” three times and I have been asked to defend yoga, and from my perspective, myself in this matter each time. This is not my first rodeo. I have owned a yoga studio for almost eight years in this small, Southern Bible Belt town and I have more stories than I wish to recall about people throwing accusations at me about what I teach. I have been hurt and offended, but now I’m just plain angry.

Most of my yoga teaching career has been spent here in Albemarle, NC so I’m not sure if teachers from other regions or big cities have dealt with as much as I have on the subject. For their sakes, I surely hope not. I have written on this matter before on my blog and for the local paper to try to put people’s minds at ease that I am not making a career out of trying to send good Christians to hell. The paper I wrote for let someone editorialize on what was basically a rebuttal to my article saying that I am a pagan and that I am leading my students down the pagan path with me.

This past week someone told me that a local pastor told his congregation that all the ladies doing “hot yoga” were practicing satanic rituals and would go to hell for it. I imagine he thinks “hot yoga” is some place where we all try to get really good looking and sexy to seduce the poor unsuspecting men of his church community. I’m pretty sure he has no idea that the “hot” part actually just refers to the temperature of the room.

People in my teacher training have sent me copies of conversations with friends saying they have been Googling yoga and satanism and that there are lots of interesting articles out there on the subject. I, myself, Googled satanism and pizza and found a lot of interesting stuff on that, as well. I hope Pizza Hut is ready for some damage control around here.

I cannot speak for any other yoga teacher or yoga practitioner on the subject, but I can tell you that the yoga I have learned, practiced and taught has nothing to do with the devil. The words are in Sanskrit, an ancient language from India. The roots are from India where Hinduism was the main religion, so there are teachers who use stories of Hinduism as analogies in their classes. I personally don’t use those examples, but I have never felt that I should convert to a brand new religion because someone told me a story about one.

I am a Christian. I was born into a Christian family and I have always been a Christian. I believe that Jesus is my savior and I have a very close and personal relationship with God. I am open about it because I’m proud of it, but it’s really no one’s business what any of us believe or who we pray to. I feel firm in my faith so I am not threatened by learning about things that may not be spoken of in the Bible, like the internet or pizza, for instance. I am not a minister and I am not trying to lead anyone to change religions because I teach yoga.

I teach yoga because it has changed my life for the better. I teach yoga because I have seen so many other people’s lives be changed for the better. My students leave my class feeling better and they tell me so. I see a world inundated with stress and anxiety and unrealistic expectations at every turn. I feel guided by God to try to help people feel better living in their bodies and their minds because I’m good at it.  I suppose nothing worthy comes without a price and the price for trying to bring my hometown something I am passionate about has been feeling persecuted by some of my Christian peers. And I am all the more grateful for every person who has trusted me and supported me and loved me through it all. So to all of you, a great big NAMASTE!

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10 thoughts on “YOGA, SATAN AND PIZZA

  1. Cindy, I’m saddened that you feel you have to defend yourself, your faith, your wonderful yoga studio that you’ve worked so hard for, against little minds from people who are quite frankly, acting “unchristian”! I’m so grateful you’ve brought yoga to our town and it’s helped me immensely in ALL parts of my life. I also know from experiences with small town communities you will be wise to toughen up your skin. Isn’t it ironic that yoga teaches us to treat others with kindness and those that have accused your yoga of being Satanic could learn a valuable lesson from it themselves. Don’t let the negativity of others bother you for long. The haters need to do a little more research before they open their mouths again. Namaste!!

  2. Cindy, I love your studio and the practices you and the other teachers have taught me and my family. I have learned so much about love and tolerance and finding peace with the world through yoga. It’s unfortunate that some people are so afraid of things they know nothing about that they automatically assume it’s wrong and satanic. If they spent any amount of time in your studio I know they would see what yoga is truly about. 🙏🏼

  3. Keep fighting the good fight. I am finding that people only believe what they want to believe and it’s not skillful to put effort into changing their minds. Just present the best Yoga you can and you will get students who have the same beliefs.

  4. Cindy I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. . Rest assured these same people flinging these accusations at you are probably the same ones who preach about not drinking while theirs is locked up out of site when the preacher visits. Keep doing you thang!

  5. On Wednesday nights at church we have been studying cults. Of course the first night was Buddhism and he spoke about meditation and yoga (even though yoga is more from Hinduism). If people would research a little deeper they would see that we aren’t worshipping Hindu gods in our poses. I’ve had to deal with this a lot as a Baptist. Unfortunately s lot of the problem is being uneasy with something different of foreign.

  6. I well remember the day that you told me you had a Bible on your nightstand and Jesus was your very best friend. I’ve never been anywhere where I felt so loved and accepted for exactly who I was, faults and all, as when I was in your studio.

    Love you. Love what you do. Love yoga! If only I felt so comfortable in church……and doesn’t that just speak to it all!

  7. I can not wait for the day I feel confident enough to take your classes!!! Right now, still doing at home. Yoga has helped me be a better person by helping to feel better and lower my stress levels. I think that helps with my Christian walk!!! I’m so sorry that you are dealing with negative issues. You keep being the positive role model for many women in this area. There will always be someone who has something to say. I think what you do is so special and never doubt the positive impact you are having on the people around you. God has given you a gift and you are sharing!

  8. I was born and raised in the town you are referring to. I was thrilled to hear you had opened a yoga studio there. I remember thinking how hip and progressive the town had become. It made me feel with joy that the narrow minded ways(of some) had possibly stopped. I hate to hear that may not be the case. I think when you do not know or studied a subject you have no right to comment or push your opinion onto others . I challenge the people that are trashing yoga to really read and study the art of yoga. I feel like their opinion will change and if it doesn’t then they didn’t take what they read to heart. I have overcame a lot of my anxiety, depression and I feel so much better all around. Yoga is not a place that you trash any religion or person. Yoga is a place to worship your ‘true’ self and becoming the best version of yourself. The yoga I practice we embrace our community and each other. After my daughter left your studio after visiting she said you embrace the same things we do here in Colorado. She left there thinking what an asset your studio has brought to this small town. Keep up the good work and do not let this stand in your way of giving people a tool to enhance their well-being. The light in me honors and acknowledges the light in you. Namaste.

  9. I. AM. WITH. YOU. There are a lot of very misinformed and ignorant people out there, Most people have no idea what yoga is, I feel like it is part of my job to educate them, but sometimes it is just so hard. I get that yoga is “unchristian” all the time, that’s usually when I invite them to try the class I teach at the church lol

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