Former Yogi, Mike Shreve, Insists Yoga Should Not Be Taught In Alabama Schools
October 1, 2021 | View PDF
Should yoga be taught as part of the curriculum in the public schools of Alabama? A former teacher of yoga at four Florida universities, Mike Shreve, says, “Absolutely not!” Evidently, some Alabama legislators disagree, because in May of this year (2021), the Alabama Senate and House of Representatives passed a bill, introduced by Democrat Representative Jeremy Gray, lifting the ban on yoga in the public school system that has been in place since 1993.
Apparently, Representative Gray has a vested interest in the passing of this bill because he is a yoga teacher himself and promotes yoga-related concepts through his business called “Elevate Your Grind.” In a statement given to the Associated Press, Gray recently proposed, “This whole notion that if you do yoga, you’ll become Hindu — I’ve been doing yoga for 10 years and I go to church and I’m very much a Christian.” That sounds convincing, but once you inspect Mr. Gray’s belief system, it becomes clear that he does not embrace a traditional, New Testament “Christian” worldview. On his website, he proposes that the result of the study of yoga will be the following:
“Ultimately one must connect with self on a physical plane in order to connect on a spiritual plane wit [sic] God, The Universe, Buddha, Allah, Nuture [sic] or whatever deity we choose.”
Mike Shreve was converted to Christianity in 1970 and he immediately shut down his yoga ashram and ceased teaching yoga classes. “The two worldviews are just not compatible,” he contends. Countering Gray’s point of view, Pastor Mike Shreve offers, “A true biblical perspective does not include all religions, nor does it propose that God and the universe are one. That stems from a Hindu belief called pantheism. Neither can you ‘choose any deity you want.’ Jesus clearly insisted, ‘I am the way . . . no one comes to the Father except through Me.’” (John 14:6).
Some lawmakers have recently expressed regret that they voted affirmatively for the bill. “We just didn’t realize what it was all about,” one commented this past weekend at a statewide Republican gathering.
Alabama was the last of 50 states to have the yoga-ban in place. “That was a trophy on Alabama’s shelf that never should have been relinquished,” Shreve insists. He also admitted, “I’ve learned one of the main reasons Alabama continued with this unpopular standard was the combined effort of some key individuals over the last 30 years like: Attorney Eric Johnston of the Rutherford Foundation, Clete Hux of the Apologetic Resource Center in Birmingham, Eunie Smith of the Eagle Forum, and Craig Branch of Watchman Fellowship. Shreve offers, “It’s an honor to join with these influencers to once again hold up the banner of truth. Our hope is that Alabama legislators will revisit this bill and be courageous enough to go against this cultural megatrend, as they have in the past, and reverse their decision. It may not seem politically correct to some, but it is definitely philosophically and theologically correct.”
It is true that the bill (HB-246) prohibits many overtly Hindu practices like chanting mantras, the use of mudras (symbolic spiritual hand gestures), meditation, guided visualization, using Hindu names for postures, and greeting one another with the Namaste greeting (which means “I bow to the divine in you”—a way of declaring that all human beings are manifestations of God). However, according to a BBC interview, “Mr. Gray . . . hopes to remove the unnecessary aspects of these amendments in [sic] future.” Which ones does he consider “unnecessary”? Unfortunately, once yoga gets a foothold, these restrictions will most likely erode over time and far eastern religious concepts will infiltrate the school system more and more.
One of the most blatant indications that the bill is unacceptable is the required wording on a permission slip that parents must sign for their children to participate. It reads:
“I am informed that my child (name of child) will participate in yoga instruction at the school named above. I understand that yoga is part of the Hinduism religion.”
What? Read that again! Anyone of a different religious persuasion (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh or any other), should be disturbed by the wording of this requirement. Unknown to most people, the physical exercises (asanas) and the breathing exercises (pranayama) are the third and fourth of eight steps that are supposed to lead a practitioner to God-consciousness (according to the Hindu teacher Patanjali). No wonder, in an interview that described Hinduism as “the soul of yoga,” the former managing editor of the magazine Hinduism Today, Sannyasin Arumugaswami, warned:
“Based as it is on Hindu Scripture and developed by Hindu sages, Yoga opens up new and more refined states of mind, and to understand them one needs to believe in and understand the Hindu way of looking at God . . . A Christian trying to adapt these practices will likely disrupt their own Christian beliefs.”
Tim James, son of former governor, Fob James, was the concerned Alabamian who first enlisted Mike Shreve’s help in the hope of reversing this ruling when the legislature reconvenes. A group of nine concerned leaders met on August 12th to discuss possible ways to accomplish this goal (including some of those who have been in this political jousting match for three decades).
Some of Shreve’s strongest arguments are as follows:
“There may be an opt-out clause in the bill, but there are three reasons it will not be effective in protecting the children of Alabama:
(1) Many children will be embarrassed to opt out because of peer pressure and will make the decision to participate in order to avoid being “different”;
(2) Once exposed to the fundamental principles of yoga (that primarily involve physical postures), out of curiosity, many will explore the deeper aspects of yoga. This will expose them to beliefs of Hinduism like a pantheon of 330 million gods and goddesses that are worshipped (the traditional number) and the true purpose of yoga, which is the “awakening of the kundalini (the serpent power)”;
(3) In many communities, the only persons qualified to teach yoga classes will be certified yoga teachers in the area—most of whom embrace a new age or far eastern worldview. Through the building of teacher/student relationships, they will gain spiritual influence over the children that could ultimately sway them to embrace a different belief system than that held by their parents.
For more information on the true nature of yoga and this particular initiative, go to Mike Shreve’s comparative religion website, http://www.thetruelight.net, and look under “Writings.” His ministry website is: http://www.shreveministries.org. He can be contacted at the address: firstname.lastname@example.org.