Should Christians Practice Yoga?

Yoga is exercise. It is a form of fitness that promotes strength, flexibility, and stillness. Most yoga classes that I attend are void of religious references. You pose, you hold it, and you release the pose. Many times you’re trying so hard just to balance, keep your arms elevated, or stand in a strenuous position for several minutes that you don’t have the time or energy to think about anything else. I am persuaded that most Christians who oppose yoga have never even taken a yoga class.

Yoga is also form of meditation. It is a moving meditation. It has a spiritual side, which is probably where most of the controversy about yoga resides.  Yoga has a mind-body-spirit connection. Central to yoga is our breathe. When the breathe slows down, the mind slows down as well. In fact, the purpose of yoga was to prepare the body for meditation. When the mind becomes still, we enter into a state of inner peace. When our mind is at peace, we create a greater space for God in our lives, to hear and experience Him on a deeper level, a spiritual level. The Bible says that “the spirit of God is within you.” Therefore, it is up to us to prepare our hearts to fellowship with Him. This is why yoga appeals to many Christians.

Those who are against yoga believe it opens Christians up to evil spirits and demons lurking in the darkness. They believe by being still and quieting our minds, we become prey to a host of spiritual unknowns. The majority of Christians who practice yoga know where their allegiance lies and they’re not so easily persuaded or manipulated. We know that Jesus is our Lord and we can use yoga to strengthen our relationship with him.  We know in our heart and mind how to use yoga as a form to worship God.

I believe there are far more sinister practices that lead Christians down the path of deception and darkness than yoga. These include television, godless movies, popular music, and secular magazines. If Christians want to denounce evil and lead people towards the path of righteousness and holiness, help them to realize how the media is undermining their Christian walk every minute of everyday, not just the several hours per week spent at yoga class. Through the media, we are being feed a daily diet of anti-Christ propaganda that is deceiving us and keeping us from pursuing an intimate relationship with the Lord. Yoga on the other hand, does quite the opposite. Christians can use yoga to detach from these illusions, enter into oneness with God, and create a deeper connection with His spirit.

Jesus told the Pharisees in Matthew 23: 13, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. The growing interest in yoga to the Christian is a result of spiritual hunger. Going to church, listening to a sermon, serving in the church is not filling the gapping hole that continues to grow in Christians who don’t want more programs but more God. They are not finding it in the building, so they are looking elsewhere. Yoga or a Christ-centered yoga alternative is just another tool that allows Christians to  put into practice the scripture that says, “Be still and know that I am God.”

When was the last time you we’re taught about meditating on God or practiced meditation in the church? When was the last time you spent time dwelling in God’s presence in the sanctuary? I can honestly tell you that for me the answer is very rarely. Most churches don’t value the quiet. Many may argue that abiding with God is a personal matter; however, many modern-day Christians aren’t even familiar with this concept and if they are, they have been discouraged to do so. In fact, there are Christians who have been brainwashed to believe that meditation is of the devil. But I believe that there is “no” greater practice that can help a Christian realize a personal, thriving, and growing relationship with God, than to spend time with Him in silence and solitude meditating on his word and abiding in his presence.

Jesus told these same Pharisees, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices- mint, dill, and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy, and faithfulness.” In all this condemning of yoga, Christians have forgotten the love and liberty that we have in Jesus Christ. John said in 1 John 3:21, “If our heart condemns us not, we have confidence towards God, meaning God is able to convict his children of sin or wrong-doing. Therefore, if in your heart you feel yoga is not of God, then you are obligated to not practice it, less you sin. In many such decisions God gives us a personal choice. He never appointed judges and juries to tell us to do this or that. That’s what the Holy Spirit is for. The Bible says, When the Holy Spirit comes you will not need any man to teach you because the Holy Spirit will teach you all things.  Even Jesus told the man in the crowd, “Man, who appointed me judge or arbiter between you?” Jesus said in John 12, “I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” I have actually heard stories of individuals receiving Jesus Christ on a yoga mat. What a wonderful opportunity to disciple the world. They come for yoga and get saved!

If Christians practice yoga as a form of worship, as a away to love and honor God and grow in relationship with him, what right has anyone to tell them any differently? Paul in Romans 14:4 declares, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” If as a Christian we practice yoga with the right motives and out of a pure heart, God receives our praise.

I’m so glad that there are now Christian yoga classes and alternatives (Yahweh Yoga, Holy Yoga, PraiseMoves, and Wholy Fit) springing up that actually incorporates Christianity into the practice of yoga or yoga-like postures. These ministries are growing by leaps and bounds and if you can find a Christian yoga class in your area you are truly blessed.  But until Christian yoga classes become widespread, yoga will remain an acceptable form of exercise and meditation amongst a large variety of believers.

Are all yoga classes created equal? Absolutely not! There are yoga classes that are smothered in Hinduism, so Christians must be discerning when selecting a yoga class or teacher.  I have actually walked out of yoga studios accessorized with huge Buddha statues, not because I don’t believe Buddha was a wise or enlightened man, but being a Christian I don’t worship Buddha, I worship the Lord Jesus Christ; there is no confusion in my heart. Hatha yoga or Yogafit are several types of yoga that have extracted all the religious components of yoga. Also, many gyms like 24 Hour Fitness offers yoga classes primarily for fitness and relaxation.  God doesn’t want us to be discerning just about yoga, he wants us to be discerning regarding all aspects of our life as well. How we spend our time, money, what we eat, and where we attend church also have positive and negative ramifications.

Roman 14:2 says, “One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man whose faith is weak eats only vegetables.” Should we therefore all become vegetarians? Perhaps those who oppose yoga believe that “they” themselves lack the strength to practice yoga without being seduced away from the Lord. Verse 13 declares, “Let each one be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards the day [yoga] as special does so to the Lord. He who eats meat [or practices yoga], eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who doubts is condemned [if he practices yoga], because his eating [yoga practice] is not of faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”

1 Corinthians 8:4 tells us, “We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so called gods, whether in heaven or on the earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords) yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live and there is but one Lord…”

Yoga will continue to be a controversial topic amongst Christians, but that’s okay. God has given us the freedom and liberty to serve him in ways that not everyone will approve of. Christians who practice yoga, do so unto the Lord, Christians who don’t practice yoga, do so unto the Lord, so regardless of what side of the fence you stand, if you are using your faith to exalt and honor the Lord, according to the scriptures, it’s really no bodies business, but yours and Gods. Interested in Christian Yoga? Learn about the various Christian yoga and alternative programsSee popular Christian yoga dvds below.

Learn more about Christian Meditation or resources . Visit Secret Place Meditation to learn more about upcoming Christian meditation and Christian yoga retreats.

7 thoughts on “Should Christians Practice Yoga?

  1. The people who think that yoga opens you up to evil spirits must be looking for evil. If you look for evil, you will find it. But, God is bigger than the biggest evil there is. There is another Christian yoga tape called Christoga. They name the poses after Christian things and recite Bible verses during the poses.

  2. Christian yoga sweeps the US (undated) CRS Comments: Some forms of deception are so fine-tuned they are difficult to detect. But this is not the case with so called “Christian Yoga.” The deception is so obvious that it reaches out and laughs at Christians who practice it. Yoga–regardless of what shape, form or fashion it is packaged in–is an unfruitful deed of darkness. To practice it lends credibility to the false gods of Hinduism and the traditions of men, and is a rebellious violation of the commands of Scripture (Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 6:14; Ephesians 5:11; Colossians 2:8).

  3. Sara says:

    Yoga leads people away from Christ. Read the Scriptures. The only way to be connected to God is through the precious blood of Christ! (not by centering oneself, escaping ‘illusion’ or by breath-work…or any works for that matter!)

    I practiced yoga for almost 2 years and became more and more interested in Hinduism and Buddhism and less and less interested in Jesus as my Savior. Thankfully, the deeper I went into yoga…the more God (in His infinite love and mercy) pursued me and made Jesus known.

    The biggest deception of yoga is taking Hinduism and repackaging it with Christian terms. At least when people are honest about what yoga is, believers will see that it does not fit with Christ’s teachings.

    Here’s some good reading for anyone wondering if Christians can have Jesus and their idols too:
    Deuteronomy 4:19; 12:2-4; 13:1-18
    1 Corinthians 10:21
    2 Corinthians 6:14-15
    Hebrews 13:9-12

    I could list so many more…just pray and seek the Lord in all things. Consider Pilates…or stretching. 🙂 God bless.

  4. mattisa dumas says:

    Thank you for sharing truth. I, too, have received so much stillness from yoga in God. I feel so close to him and all my anxieties are relieved. My body feels like an instrument of peace instead of burden. My quiet times seem eternal and wrapped in the Holy Spirit. By the fruit, a thing’s nature is known. I bow to God and God alone during my yoga worship. To those that are uncomfortable in yoga, go in peace. But by love for our neighbors, we will be known as followers of Christ. God is not afraid of our fear and we can take any anxiety about yoga to him and listen to his heart about it.

  5. jj says:

    sigh. i think its atking wayyy too long for humanity to realise that there is only one God and it doesn’t matter who you worship.

    Rather it’s how you worship. I like the fact that the author said that meditation is a really good thing (too think the ignorant thinks evil), but i don’t like the fact that the author found such a divide between Jessu and Buddha. It doesn’t matter who you worship.

    I mean fari enough you may feel comfortable with one image of God than another but really no one should be uncomfortable around different religions. God’s ways have a billion paths, and the different religons are jsut some of the paths we see 🙂

  6. Sara says:

    jj…those who know Jesus as their personal Savior from sin have a different perspective. Anyone who has experienced God’s forgiveness and the power of the Holy Spirit knows that Jesus is the only way to heaven. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” John 14:6
    There is no other name under heaven by which we are saved.

    Buddha was a great philosopher, but he wasn’t God. Buddha didn’t pay for your sins. Jesus did. BIG difference.

  7. Lady Tam says:

    For those against yoga/meditation: I want just one true, factual story of yoga and/or meditation leading a faithful, dedicated, prayerful Christian away from Christ. I’ll even settle for a faithful, dedicated, prayerful Christian becoming demon-possessed.

    Just one.

    That’s all I’m asking for.

    Leave a message on my blog if you want.

    Just give me SOMETHING solid with RELIABLE sources, and I’ll consider your claim.

    Right now, meditation helps to prepare my mind for prayer. To Christ. I’m actually PRAYING EVERY DAY, a task normally way more difficult. It’s also coupled with a DAILY BIBLE READING, something that’s even more difficult for me than praying every day…and I truly gave it my best when I took my pastor’s class on developing better spiritual habits. What’s more, I’m calmer, happier, and not as full of instantaneous rage as I was before. It’s worth a little criticism from others for a little peace of heart, soul, and mind, I’m tellin’ ya!

    Sometimes I wonder if the majority of Christian conservatives *enjoy* suffering. x_x;;; Seriously.

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