By Caryl Matrisciana
Caryl Matrisciana grew up in India and later as a young adult in England and then the U.S. became deeply involved with the New Age movement.
(Used with permission in May 2016)
I’ve had several e-mails asking about Pilates as a form of exercise and if it’s connected to a spirituality as Yoga is? Pilates gets its name from its originator and founder German born, Joseph Pilates. It’s a workout program incorporating many elements he drew from his studies into Eastern (Yoga and Zen) philosophies and Western (Roman and Greek) forms of physical fitness. He called his regime “controlology,” which he claims is the “science of control”, and borrowed some basics from Hinduism’s Yoga which is foundational to Hinduism’s religious philosophy.
Similar to Yogic practice, Pilates emphasizes the importance of focused breathing patterns and intense concentration and mind control as integral to the Pilates regime. Exercises are given names like “elephant” and “swan” much like yoga positions, or asanas have names like camel, cat and cobra.
I realize this can sound like hair splitting: what’s wrong with giving names to exercises and emphasizing mind concentration? Well, is mind concentration really physical exercise? Is self-hypnosis and visualization part of physical wellbeing? Physical and mental lines are getting blurred as body-mind-spirit ideology is accepted as legitimate!
Hinduism claims Yoga is a science which becomes confusing, as the true meaning of true science is being redefined. Its original function is the systematic study of the physical and natural through controlled observation and experiment. When a philosophy or mind-control technique claims to be scientific, it shifts the true meaning to now embrace the subjective study of a philosophy based on metaphysical and supernatural aspects which must, by definition, be open to another type of observation into the spirit world, and spirits and their behavior which can’t be controlled. (For further explanation about shifting science and its behavioral ramifications to society read my book The Evolution Conspiracy)
Yoga’s basic premise is that focused breathing patterns are essential for both physical and spiritual wellbeing and the benefits of breathing correctly can be used to “invoke” better wellness all round, physically and spiritually. Invoke, obviously is a type of prayer and appeal to the spirit world which brings with it powers and experiences which, from a biblical point of view, come with dangers because their source is corrupt. Within Eastern thinking such invocations to the spirit world are of good advantage and beneficial. Eastern philosophy teaches the mind must vacate the body (stop thinking, still the mind, go into neutral) for the spirit within to be awakened. The Bible teaches the mind must be harnessed to God’s Word for protection against spirits who want to take possession of the body and the heart must be guarded for the same reason.
While obviously breathing correctly when doing physical exercise is important, its importance is only for bodily (physical) results. Breathing correctly is not an essential for any type of spiritual gain within a Biblical worldview. Mentioned in the Bible, in Genesis, God breathed His breath into Adam to give Adam God’s everlasting Spirit, but everlasting life cannot be enhanced by correct physical breathing. The Bible separates the spirit from the soul and from the body. Paul explains bodily exercise avails for temporary value but isn’t of benefit for eternal life. Obviously implying breathing exercises are of no spiritual benefit whatsoever.
Eastern spirituality believes the opposite. It teaches that Brahman is an overall, impersonal god-consciousness which can be tapped into through certain breathing exercises and various bodily positions, asanas like camel, cat and cobra. Hinduism teaches everything is interconnected and the powers in say the cobra, can be transformed into the practitioner when engaged in that asana, so cobra and practitioner become one. The snake is revered in every pagan culture but spoken against in the Bible as a deceiver, a liar, and a destroyer.
These practices, breathing and positioning, are taught in the art of Yoga which believes body, soul, and spirit are one, in other words, body, soul, and spirit cannot be separated, as many in the west try to explain, that there is a Yoga purely for the physical body only and a Yoga for the spiritual. All Yoga is based in an eastern worldview and is for body, mind, and spirit. The mind is important to control and be used for spiritual indoctrination by the spirits being invoked through bodily positioning. It’s very subtle and very powerful!
In sanskrit, Yoga means to unite body, soul, and spirit to another larger spirit energy that Hinduism says is a divinity called Brahman. Yoga practice is the method to promote, in the practitioner, the idea to connect to, or tap into Brahman also understood to be “the higher self”. Yoga teaches that the higher self is “self-awareness,” and the promotion of “true-self” comes through awareness of one’s own divinity, through altered states, while involved in breathing techniques, which supposedly induce “self-actualization.” In other words, the idea of realizing one’s own “godhood” or connection to higher-self expands spiritual consciousness in general.
Amazingly, a type of Christianized breathing technique is being introduced to Christians and into churches through a practice called “breath prayer” which some Christian leaders are promoting claiming it makes the practitioner “get closer to” or “more intimate with God.” This is not based on biblical teaching but rather draws from the heretical teachings of Christian mystics and The Desert Fathers.
This philosophy that man can “connect to” divinity or become God is rooted in paganism that teaches man and energy, the material environment and all in the universe, et al, is part of one life giving substance which is divinity and god-consciousness and can be tapped into for gain. So, all is divine, god is all, god is in all and all is in god. This “god” is an impersonal force and not a Personal Divinity as the Bible explains the Creator God to be. The Judeo-Christian God is a Personal Being who was from eternal to everlasting. He is separate to energy, separate to anything material, and separate to man whom He created out of nothing, from invisible to visible, by the power of His Word, through His Spirit. Man cannot become god or be divine.
ln addition, the Bible teaches man should die to self, diminish in selfish ambition, self motivation, self esteem, self actualization, etc contrary to Eastern philosophy that promotes the idea of elevating self to connect to its so called higher god-center. The Bible says in Jeremiah, there is no good thing within man whose heart is deceptively wicked, yet Hinduism says within man is the potential of discovering his own godhood. This was the lie Satan perpetuated when he deceived Eve with the notion she could be like God.
Bettering one’s health through any practice based in a worldview or philosophy that borrows from Eastern Mysticism endangers itself because it blends physical and spiritual. Physical exercise should be rooted in a biblical view or it strays into Hindu philosophy and paganism. The latter have the potential of being contaminated with what the Bible defines as supernatural spirits, defined as demons and wicked powers and principalities of darkness.
Breath Prayer is a good example of spiritual wickedness and contamination able to beguile undiscerning Christians.
Joseph Pilates worldview, borrowed from Eastern spirituality, makes his technique of particular concern to those calling themselves Christians, as it has the potential of introducing practitioners to ideas of holism, holistic thought, (wholeness, oneness, all is one, etc) and lead them into unwittingly becoming sympathetic towards Eastern philosophy, Yoga and other eclectic ideologies that may trip up naïve Christians who are not well grounded in sound doctrine.
While many Pilates teachers may argue they don’t teach Eastern spirituality, just as many Yoga teachers argue, the basic premise of both body wellness programs are part of Eastern philosophy. Any program entwining the human mind/spirit and body, or mental/spiritual and physical health claiming they are interrelated, should raise a warning flag. The concept of body, mind, and spirit is integral to “holistic” ideology and not based in authentic science. The likes carry dangers of confusion and blurs biblical Truth.