"Yoga Uncoiled" Video Review
Oct 19, 2009 by Doug Groothuis | 0 Comments
Yoga Uncoiled: From East to West. Caryl Productions, 2007. 80 minutes. www.caryltv.com
The narrator, Christian author and video producer, Caryl Matrisciana, is well-versed in the philosophy and mysticism of India, and in its essential spiritual practice: yoga. Through interviews, historical background, and quotations from various sources, the video conclusively shows that yoga is a Hindu practice through and through. There is no yoga without Hinduism and no Hinduism without yoga. Moreover, Hinduism and Christianity are entirely different worldviews. Therefore, it is impossible to Christianize yoga and Christians should not participate in it.
The video gives ample opportunity for a proponent of Christianized yoga to make her point (too much time, in fact), but her words ring hollow. The combined testimonies of experts and former parishioners of yoga is overwhelmingly against the claim that yoga is a merely physical exercise which can be practiced without spiritual involvement, which can include demonic oppression or worse.
On the down side, the video is somewhat repetitious and a bit too long (80 minutes). It also makes some claims about premillennial eschatology that are not necessary to its central thesis. Near the end the film shows book covers by Rick Warren and Richard Foster to the effect that they promote yoga. However, no citations from their writings are given to make that point. I am a fan of neither author, but some evidence for their endorsement of yoga seems needed in the film.
There are a few other difficulties One gets the impression that all of Hinduism if pantheistic, when, in fact, there are various schools of Hindu philosophy besides pantheism. True, pantheism is the school that has influenced the West most powerfully, but it is not the only approach Hinduism takes. The religion is vary diverse in its worldview, although all Hindus affirm: reincarnation/karma, maya, nirvana, the author of the Vedas, and yoga. One expert says that Hinduism (taken as pantheism) is relativistic and subjective. This is false: it makes absolute truth claims about Brahman as the supreme reality and self (Atman) as one with Brahman.
Overall, this film can help people become more informed on the history and philosophy of yoga, it incompatibility with Christianity, and the basic Christian message of salvation through the grace of God shown in Jesus Christ alone. But given some of its inaccuracies (and simply the medium of video) it is not the best scholarly source on Hinduism/yoga.