I saw an Atlantic article yesterday about current Virginia lieutenant gubernatorial contender E.W. Jackson. I was drawn to the article because I am a fan of Jackson’s adversary in the race, former U.S. Chief Information Officer Aneesh Chopra, but I read the article because candidate Jackson asserts, for all intents and purposes, that the practice of yoga is a slippery slope toward satanic possession.
Yes, you read that right. Do a downward dog and while you’re down there you can stare into the face of your new friend, the Devil. Jackson disclosed this little known yoga factoid in his 2008 book entitled Ten Commandments To An Extraordinary Life, but because he is running for office, the Atlantic brought us this public service announcement in 2013.
I admit that there are times when I am working out with my trainer and it occurs to me that he should go back to Hell where he came from. But fundamentally I would have a hard time equating yoga, which is generally associated with flexibility, healthy breathing and stress-relief, with the guy holding the pitchfork. In fact, most consider yoga to be the ultimate in wellness activities. According to the Mayo Clinic, which most fancy to be a reliable source on matters of this type, yoga can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and improve heart function.
Now granted, there is a very popular pose in yoga called the Pigeon, and clearly pigeons are the favored bird of Satan given their propensity to, shall we say, adorn your hair while you walk across the street. And then there’s the whole “hot yoga” thing, where you bend and stretch while hanging out in a room that could also be used to bake lasagna. I suppose that if Dana Carvey’s Church Lady encountered a bikram studio she might say, “Why is it so hot in here? Could it be….Satan?” But suggesting that yoga is Satan’s favorite form of exercise seems a bit of a stretch (pun not intended but still funny). Besides, everyone knows Lucifer’s favorite sport is running, as clearly documented by Van Halen.
I was surprised to learn that someone, even a politician, might equate a form of exercise with the devil’s work, as I thought exercise was actually the antidote. This week Dunkin Donuts announced their new Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich, which features pepper-fried eggs and cherry wood-smoked bacon nestled between two halves of a glazed donut (although rumor has it they will substitute chocolate old-fashioned if you just ask!). If that is not the work of the prince of breakfast darkness, I don’t know what is.
But for your amusement, I offer up a hilarious comedy routine about yoga by Brian Regan, one of my favorite comedians. “Now take your left leg and throw it over the back of your neck like a scarf.” Devilishly funny.
And in case you were wondering, here is a direct passage about yoga from E.W. Jackson’s book:
When one hears the word meditation, it conjures an image of Maharishi Yoga talking about finding a mantra and striving for nirvana. . . . The purpose of such meditation is to empty oneself. . . . [Satan] is happy to invade the empty vacuum of your soul and possess it. That is why people serve Satan without ever knowing it or deciding to, but no one can be a child of God without making a decision to surrender to him. Beware of systems of spirituality which tell you to empty yourself. You will end up filled with something you probably do not want.
Yeah, tell me about it.