CAN CHRISTIANS DO YOGA? Do Not Be Bamboozled!
© 2014, by Diane Hong. All Rights Reserved.
Yoga has certainly gone mainstream. It has been a craze for decades. We see yoga studios pop up everywhere; fitness centres offer “hot yoga” as part of their classes; doctors recommend that you do yoga to relax; and I even heard of “Christian yoga classes” offer in churches, which is shocking!
Over the years I have had this discussion with Christian friends, about whether Christians should be doing yoga. I have been accused of “judging” or being “narrowed minded,” or else they justified doing yoga because they focus on God while they are doing yoga.
Should Christian be practicing yoga? What is yoga? Is it just exercises that help you relax and become flexible, or is it something more?
In Hinduism, yoga is a key method for transcending this world of illusion. In Sankskrit, the original language of India, yoga means “to be yoked (into union with god)” (the Hindu concept of god as Brahman, the Impersonal All) Yoga, as a religious Hindu teaching and technique, was systematized in India by Patanjali around 200 BC.
In the West, Yoga is thought of as just the asanas or isometric exercise and postures. But to consider it just a form of exercise is to misinterpret what yoga stands for and the purpose of its practice. Yoga’s purpose is to help a person achieve transcendence or liberation from this physical, personal existence to the state of Enlightenment (i.e. the realization of unity with the Brahman and the end of individual being). A feature of yoga is its practical discipline by which the suppression of mental states is brought about through the practice of spiritual exercises.
As a sister in Christ, I have to let you know that Christians should not be practicing yoga. This is practicing syncretism (the attempted reconciliation or union of different or opposing principles and/or practices as in philosophy or religion) because the purpose of yoga is to yoke with the Hindu Brahman by doing exercises and emptying the mind, and this leaves a person vulnerable to other deities/spirits. If you are participating in yoga you should immediately discontinue this and look for stretch classes without yoga. Or if your church is offering or teaching “Christian yoga classes” you should explain to the pastor why this is wrong and point out what the Bible says.
The Bible tells to love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength (Deuteronomy 6:5) and to meditate on His laws day and night (Psalm 1:2) and that the Spirit of God dwells in us (1 Corinthians 3:16). God also warns us that the devil will use various means to deceive us:
Now the Spirit expressively says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons … (1 Timothy 4:1)
I definitely believe in living a healthy lifestyle of eating right and exercising but not at the cost of endangering my eternal life. We as fellow Christians should let our brothers and sisters in Christ who are practicing yoga know that this is wrong. As we read in Ezekiel 33:3-6:
… when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.