Thoughts on Yoga

yogaI was asked for my views on Yoga, specifically if it is harmful to the soul.

I was listening to a Christian radio station while driving to and fro during work, and they were talking about Yoga. It appears that Yoga, if practiced properly, is a demonic practice. The poses themselves allegedly open up the spiritual realm.

They likened it to using a Ouija board; the difference being that most people don’t know the spiritual effects of practicing Yoga, while most people know what they are doing when using a Ouija board.

Have you heard anything like that? It does make sense; if you practice anything that claims to be a religion that isn’t in alignment with Heavenly Father, could be perceived as demonic. Please let me know your thoughts.

My response: I think my first introduction to the topic of Yoga and a possible connection to dark spirits was a long dialog with an individual back in 2013 who mentioned the Kundalini awakening, something I had never studied. There was a lot of additional dialog that involved Howard, the reader who asked me about the Kundalini awakening, as well as my wife. You can read the public dialog on this post (click on the star)


I think Howard and I went back and forth for a few weeks but the dialog kind of petered out without either of us really persuading the other of the benefits or drawbacks of Yoga, Shamanism or the Kundalini awakening. While I am a proponent of meditation and have experienced what I consider to be revelation as a direct result of that meditation, I do not adhere to any of the Hindu beliefs or practices, especially in regards to opening the chakras to spiritual manifestations through Yoga.

To answer your question directly, I have read many posts on various Christian websites about Yoga being a gateway to demonic possession. My observation is that most people fall into two camps on this question. The first believe Yoga to be of the devil and therefor to be avoided at all costs. The second believe we should have an open mind and accept all truth no mater what the source. I lean more toward the second group but understand the concern expressed by those of the first.

If we act upon a belief that isn’t in alignment with Heavenly Father, the obvious answer is that we open ourselves up to deception. As far as branding Yoga as an evil practice, mainly because of the belief it invites evil or unclean spirits to share our physical tabernacles, I tend to shy away from such an absolute declaration. I know a lot of people who practice Yoga, mainly for the perceived physical benefit they enjoy. I do not practice Yoga, so my observations will lack any real authority.

Your thoughts?


Speak of the devil

I taught the junior class in seminary this morning and yesterday morning as a substitute teacher. There’s nothing quite like getting up at 5am to teach early morning seminary in California. It brought back such happy memories of my high school days when I attended seminary in the old Covina ward building. The kids today seemed happy to be there and I was happy to teach them.

We were supposed to cover chapter nine of the gospel according to Mark this morning but the get acquainted activity I had planned took way too long to get to the lesson. Besides, it was Friday and the 18 kids enjoyed the fun we had with the activity. So I thought I would share something I learned as I prepared the lesson that I didn’t deliver. I hope you find it interesting.

The boy possessed of an evil spirit

Although the Transfiguration is the main point of Mark chapter nine, that topic was already covered earlier in the year when Matthew chapter 17 was taught. So the lesson focused on the Savior healing the boy possessed by an evil spirit as found in verses 14 through 29. It is a sad story about a poor little boy who is tormented by an evil spirit who wants to destroy him.

I’m sure most of you are aware that the modern interpretation of these verses is that the boy had epilepsy but I’m not convinced that was the case. The description the father provides indicates that the child was not in control of his body at times when the deaf and dumb spirit tried to cast him into the fire or into the waters. To the Savior, this was more than some physical ailment.

Evil spirits recognized the Lord

The lesson manual suggested we review previous instances in which the Savior healed those who were troubled by evil spirits. This is the point of my little essay today. I was amazed at what I found with just a few moments of searching. I’m sure you recall the unclean spirit that cried out when the Savior began his ministry, saying “Let us alone; what have we to do with thee?”

And then there is the story of the man in the country of the Gadarenes who was possessed of not just one unclean spirit, but of a legion of them. Again, the salutation to the Savior was, “What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God?” As in each of the other events like these, the Savior, and later his disciples, cast them out and commanded them to not return.

Evil spirits in today’s world

In case you haven’t noticed, I have three favorite topics that I seem to repeat in my essays. The first is marriage, the second is the prophesied events of the last days, and the third is the reality of evil spirits in the world today. The topic of marriage seems to be too contentious right now so I’ll give that a break until after the election. Besides, I have stated my position in previous posts.

I have found in the church that when I teach a lesson or give a talk that references evil spirits someone will invariably respond, “Why do you talk about evil spirits? We don’t believe in that any more. That’s just the way they described things they didn’t understand in ancient times.” I get similar responses when I write about it in my blog or discuss it in personal conversations.

The problem of a personal devil

This is not a new phenomenon, but I have watched it become more widespread in the last thirty five years since I first began to suspect that there was something to this belief, or lack thereof. One of the best resources that addresses this issue of a lack of acceptance of the reality of evil spirits can be found in a BYU Master’s thesis submitted by LaMar Garrard way back in 1955.

The Latter-day Saint history is rich in personal accounts of the influence of evil spirits where they have been clearly identified either by vision or by effect. I have written about a few of these previously. Early leaders of the church were much more open in acknowledging the existence of evil spirits but we do not find that so common in the teachings of current General Authorities.

An account of demonic possession

I have in my files an account of a conversation between a priesthood holder and an individual possessed of an evil spirit, having been diagnosed with multiple personalities. The dialog is gripping and revealing. The spirit identifies itself as having been born in England in the very early 1800’s. She willingly answers several questions put to her about how she got into the body.

I know I just stepped into uncomfortable territory for many of you so I’ll stop right there. Shoot me an email if you want to know more. I am not ignoring the scientific side of this as I know there are some of you reading my blog who have worked with those who have been diagnosed as psychotic. Medication can control, mask or diminish but not remove the effects of evil spirits.

A belief in things from days past

I think I am a rarity in today’s modern world. I am a computer technician by profession and have great respect for science and all that we enjoy because of the advancements in science. However, after many years of studying this topic, I am convinced that for all the progress we have made in mental health, only the teachings of the gospel answer some questions for me.

I have seen too many personal instances where behavior could only be explained by my belief in the reality of evil spirits and that they exist today just as they did in the Savior’s time. I confess that this view has shaped the way I perceive human behavior for most of my life. Unfortunately, my beliefs are not popular in the modern world, even among my fellow members of the church.

Summary and conclusion

Just as I believe we are on the cusp of being first-hand witnesses of cataclysmic catastrophes that have not been seen on the earth for thousands of years, I also believe we are about to see a new outpouring of evidence that there are those who walk this earth who do not walk it alone. In other words, they carry within them one or more co-habitants who are not very nice creatures.

Yep, weird stuff, I know. Don’t put me in the category of those who inhabit the LDS Anarchy blog. I don’t go for that hollow earth theory. I’m also not a believer in Planet X, but do believe that the Lost Ten Tribes are no longer found on this planet and will return in a most remarkable celestial event that will shock mankind. But I’m not crazy just because I believe in evil spirits.

Faithful parents, wayward children

Larry Barkdull is working on a book about wayward children. It will be published by Covenant Communications next year. On his blog he has posted a number of stories shared by other parents about their wayward children. Based on the participation in the comments, I think his book is going to do well, especially among mothers, the primary Deseret Book customer.

In the comments following one of Larry’s recent essays published in Meridian Magazine, I was pleased to read some advice from a parent who has gone through some serious difficulties with their rebellious child. In their case, the child had become involved in drugs. After making many excellent points that pull no punches, the parent shares something you don’t read very often:

Demons of the drug culture

“If you see significant changes in countenance, language, etc., bad friends, rotten music and evil posters on the walls, after your kid starts using [drugs], ponder and pray about the possibility of demonic possession. Yes, it still happens, just like it did in the Savior’s time, but now we call its manifestations some kind of psychosis and try to treat it with drugs and therapy.

“Sometimes you just need to use priesthood authority to cast them out. I got rid of 19 evil spirits in my kid. He and we saw a difference in him afterward. Sometimes you have to do it over and over again. It seems that getting high can remove the normal protections we enjoy and open a door wide for evil spirits.” Only a parent who has seen this firsthand can really understand.

Not in my child!

When first presented with the idea that a family member had come under the influence of an evil spirit, like most of the world today, I dismissed the idea as being something from a time that was much less enlightened. Surely there was a much more reasonable explanation that could clarify the irrational, angry, disrespectful and downright mean behavior. It was just hormones, right?

I have written a series of essays on this whole concept of what I prefer to call spirit attachments. Through much study and prayer I have concluded that this parent knows of what he speaks. I too am familiar with the process of casting out evil spirits. I also know that sometimes, they must be commanded to leave again and again. They keep coming back looking for their old home.

A wise family counselor

For some reason, we were led to a special family counselor early in the process of dealing with a wayward child. He was recommended to us by our bishop. While his technique was unusual, his ability to get to the root of the problem was amazing. The results were equally astonishing. I have never heard of a family counselor who said he wouldn’t need to see you more than twice.

This blog isn’t the place to present the very remarkable diagnostic technique that this counselor employed. I have covered that in great detail in another essay elsewhere if you are interested. I simply would like to point out that the idea of spirit attachments or demonic possession is a very real phenomenon associated with the drug culture. I agree with this parent. I too have seen it.

Power to deal with opposition

I think one of the main points Larry will probably make in his book is that the process of dealing with a wayward child is really a sanctifying journey for the parent. I can’t tell you how many hours we have invested in fasting and prayer, multiple temple visits, and continual searching in the scriptures for answers. We were driven to our knees in extremity on so many occasions.

But because the Lord knows how to succor us, he provided a unique way for us to deal with this problem that just would not go away. For over ten years we struggled with the sorrow, heartache and disappointment that accompany a rebellious spirit in the home. How often I would have cast out the vessel that it possessed, but was stayed by a loving and tender-hearted companion.

The Lord knows what we need

Parents of rebellious and wayward children know how difficult it can be to keep the spirit of the Lord in the home. Perhaps the most difficult place to keep that spirit is within your own heart. Certain kinds of music and certain kinds of behavior just seem to cause the spirit to leave. The Lord has said that control or compulsion will not work to win the hearts of children to Christ.

Long-suffering, persuasion and unfeigned love are the only acceptable ways to reach the strong-willed child in a way that respects their agency. But it can sure be frustrating when the only discernible result is to be taken advantage of again and again. A loving Heavenly Father lead me to the process I needed to learn to control myself through so many years of this struggle.

Forgiveness is the answer

When the door slams again on the way out as the child goes on their way to another rendezvous with drugs, the temptation is to pack up the clothes and throw them out in the street. The worst part for me was knowing that the money to purchase the drugs was deceptively obtained from my pocket. How does Heavenly Father stay his hand when we knowingly try to deceive Him?

I know if sounds simple, but the key to dealing with a rebellious and wayward child who takes advantage of loving and long-suffering parents is, simply put, forgiveness. In my experience, there has been nothing so powerful that has helped me through this long journey. Disrespect to a man is like non-reciprocal love to a woman. The rebellious child knows very little of either.

The first stage of the journey

I would not ever want to go through this journey again. After much effort and encouragement, our son has recently moved out and is on his own. He holds a job and pays his own way. Yes, he returns often for financial help, food and other sundry items. He is discovering that all the things he used that he never thought about, no longer miraculously appear when needed.

Now is the time we have prayed for and done everything in our power to bring about in the manner the Lord intended. What would have happened to this child if I had kicked him out the first time he stole my money and bought drugs? Now, he has a chance. He is now in a position that the Lord can reach him in ways that we never could – through natural consequences of life.

Peace in spite of pain

We are at peace. We have done all we could to help this child enter the world as a responsible and productive member of society. The naturally rebellious child has a self-destructive streak that can end a life early without special attention from the Lord. These kind of children are late bloomers. They just don’t get it until much later in life. Or at least that is my current theory.

I am just grateful that the drugs and the associated demons did not claim the life of this young rebellious child while he was in our home. The relationship is relatively good. He is welcome back anytime. I attribute that fully to his mother who suffered so much and gave of herself in ways that I would never have imagined possible were it not for the assistance of a merciful God.

Summary and conclusion

Don’t try to tell the parent of a child who uses drugs that there is no such thing today as being possessed by an evil spirit. Enlightenment to this parent came specifically because of prayer, study, fasting and revelation from a loving Heavenly Father who knew what was needed to deal with the terrible reality that most of the world denies, ridicules or tries to explain away.

When I was set apart to the High Council when this all started, I was promised that my son would someday come to accept the ways of the Lord and remember all the things he had been taught when he was young. I hold the Lord to that promise but know that the fulfillment of that promised blessing is dependent upon the faithfulness of this parent to what I know to be true.