Should I Do Yoga if I’m a Christian?

Ever since yoga hit the western world’s fitness scene in the early 2000s, much of the UK has been hooked on the spiritual, mental and physical discipline that originated in India around the fifth century BCE.

Should I Do Yoga if I’m a Christian?

Recently I’ve been on a spiritual journey that includes deep prayer, meditation, and mindfulness to help me to connect with God. At the same time, I’ve also been on the hunt for some low-impact stretching that could potentially help with chronic pain in a natural way.

Meditation and stretching. Put those two together and what do you get?

Yoga.

So, I’ve said I need to stretch. And I find that meditation brings me closer to God. These all naturally come together in the form of yoga. But, as a Christian, should I do yoga? Am I allowed? Will Jesus love me less?

Well, first, let’s see…what does the Bible say about the word “yoga”? Nothing. Zero. There’s no record of that word being used.

So now what do I do? Since the Bible doesn’t talk about yoga specifically, I have to use the brains God gave me to dig a bit deeper. Then I can determine how best to deal with this current cultural trend.

Let’s start with a few of the basics:

Yoga began as a spiritual disciple in Hindu which includes breath control, meditation, and static postures of the body. Some people who practice yoga are active Hindus or Buddhists. Many are not.
In the western world, yoga is a broad term that is often descriptive of people engaging in the physical body postures that encourage strength and stamina. Sometimes this is combined with meditation for mental strength, but not exclusively. Some yoga classes used sacred words such as “Om”, “Namaste”, and certain chants that hint to Buddhism and Hinduism. Other classes make no reference to the spiritual world at all and are simply a form of physical exercise. Yoga potures have Sanskrit names that have spiritual meanings. Many times these are replaced with English names that simply describe the form the body is taking. (For instance, “lotus” has become “criss-cross applesauce”.)

The word “yoga” in Sanskrit means “yoke” or “union with God”. God tells me to not worship another god, and I must obey.

So I know that yoga started as an ancient spiritual practice of another religion which should lead me to move forward with caution. But I also know that Jesus came to redeem all things.

Is it possible to engage in a moderated form of yoga that feeds our Christian souls, or should we avoid it altogether? Can we be aware of the potential pitfalls and dangers of the spiritual side of yoga and then practice it in a meaningful way with a Christian bent and attitude?

The famous American minister John Piper seems to think that we can’t. He says we should avoid yoga completely, citing it as antithetical to Christianity.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Piper has some good things to offer. But in this situation I tend to think that maybe he’s throwing the proverbial “baby out with the bathwater”.

Christians have often taken “secular” symbols or practices and re-stored them into something that is healthy and even God-glorifying. Take Christmas, for example. December 25, the day on which we now celebrate Jesus’ birth, was reclaimed from the pagans. That date was redeemed from a pagan holiday to a Christian celebration.

Jesus has come to redeem all things. Even pagan holidays. Possibly even stretching and meditation and breathing?

Over the ages, Christians have used wisdom and the discernment to choose what is right for them as individuals and as a Body of believers. To apply Jesus’ redemption to various non-Christian things.

“Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial.” 1 Corinthians 10:23

So I need to decide if yoga could be beneficial (or detrimental) to me. In my case, I truly believe God has given me the wisdom and discernment to be able to stretch and strengthen my body without accidentally worshipping a false god. I even believe that I can meditate and breathe while I simultaneously reflect and contemplate how incredible God is. All without slipping into the devil’s snare.

But I am aware that this may not be the case for all people.

Personally, think that I can apply the idea of a “yoke” or “union with God” in yoga to my relationship with Christ. But that doesn’t mean I’ll just sign up for any yoga class that is offered. I need to be wise and first ask questions about how spiritual a class is before taking it. For my own purposes, I tend to learn at home with videos, so there’s not much of a risk of me getting caught in an awkward situation. If something gets a little weird, I can just turn it off.

Holy Yoga is a practice that is gaining traction, offering the grounding of the Gospel while reframing the positive aspects of yoga in a Christian way.

Holy Yoga embraces the essential elements of yoga: breath work, meditation and physical postures. In all of these elements, Christ is the focus of our intention and worship.”

So as I‘m making a decision about yoga (or anything in my life!), I need to ask if it creates a risk of becoming a detriment to my walk with Jesus. If so, then I absolutely shouldn’t do it! But if yoga can be practiced in a way that is healthy to my body and mind, while drawing me closer to Christ with mindfulness and meditation, then is it possible that even John Piper can’t argue with that?

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So what are your thoughts and comments on this?

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CassyShawnee RandolphLuckyerinkeiraeFlyawayria Recent comment authors
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Cassy
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Cassy

You have opened my eyes to so many things. Recently, I had a family member post about Yoga and how it was a Hindu practice. But instead of mentioning it, he pretty much threw a comment out there saying that we were opening a pathway to other spirits and worship a false God. I think your perspective on redemption was what I needed to hear. There are obvious times where I am still and meditate in God’s presence doing the exact same thing as if I were taking a Yoga class. But you are right about being wise and praying… Read more »

Lucky
Member
Lucky

See thetruthaboutyoga.com

It tells you all you need to know. The Yoga Sutras are the exact opposite of God’s word.

Shawnee Randolph
Guest

Yoga draws me closer to God!

Lucky
Member
Lucky

yes but which one?

erinkeirae
Guest

Before starting yoga I struggled with this as well, and I had to do a little digging on my own before coming to a conclusion. In my church community, the general opinion of yoga was not favourable. I’ve been practicing for a year now with immense physical benefits, and I be sure to choose to participate in classes that focus solely on the physical practice.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this!

Lucky
Member
Lucky

Erinkeira – hi there. I find it interesting you say you did some digging on your own regarding Yoga. Did you not seek God for your answers? Please see this information below, containing text from the ancient yoga sutras themselves. It may open your eyes as to why this practice is absolutely at odds with following Christ. I did Yoga for 17 years before I learnt the truth and left all new age practices and came fully to God. Giving up Yoga does not mean you cannot exercise and feel and look healthy, there are so many other actions you… Read more »

Flyawayria
Guest

It’s funny how you pose that question and even more are the comments. If you fear that you’re God will love you less if you do a particular thing, isn’t the almighty’s love, conditional? If God actually created you, don’t you think his love should be unconditional just like how a mother loves her child even though he’s ugly or wrong or a criminal? Secondly, Indian practises have nothing involving spirits or demons. That’s purely Christian philosophy not ours. There’s no doubt that yoga and meditation both are practised to maintain your mind and body as healthy. If you don’t… Read more »

ro
Guest
ro

yoga is a spiritual practice, i think that needs to be respected. I think to embrace yoga is to embrace the culture it came from. I do not like to see christians lop off the pieces that they like, give it a christen moniker and go happily down the lane with stolen and co opted goods. Besides when you practice yoga, spiritual things begin to happen. Not everyone, not all the time, but still (ness) attracts the spirit to come closer. If you are afraid, don’t blame the yoga. Blame your delusion, or your limited capacity to experience the spirit… Read more »

ceejay
Guest

I don’t know. I think this is a to each their own subject. I love stretching my body. Yoga while in theory looks cool, but I’m lazy so it doesn’t really happen. Meditation on the other hand, I am a big believer in.

evaencounters
Guest

The question would then lean to which aspects of yoga ,there is simple meditation, which is recommended to every Christian, mediate on this law of the the Lord and the silence and solitude,
Then there is breath control of course which is essential to human body ,oxygen is essential
But the third which is the chanting of certain mantras then this is something a Christian is to take in

evaencounters
Guest

*a Christian is not to take

Emma
Member
Emma

I do yoga but at home, or by myself when practising it in public. Doing it at home or by myself in public allows me to be in control of the situation where as I am a Christian and I don’t believe it’s right for me to practise meditational yoga. Even if I found a class that had little to no spiritual aspect to it, or an open class that allows anyone (of all yoga types, forms, and levels) to participate, I wouldn’t sign up. My reason not to go is because even though, I know where I stand in… Read more »

Jorell
Guest

Hi Julie, Thank you for this article. I am having this kind of situation wherein I am on the verge of deepening my relationship with Christ yet the paths are leading to yoga practice. Praise God for His wisdom and use yoga to glorify Him further? More power and I pray for your continuous journey with Christ.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Hi Julie, Thank you for this article. I am having this kind of situation wherein I am on the verge of deepening my relationship with Christ yet the paths are leading to yoga practice. Praise God for His wisdom and use yoga to glorify Him further? More power and I pray for your continuous journey with Christ.

Lucky
Member
Lucky

Hello Julie, I saw your article on WP and thought you may like to read this.

https://www.truthbehindyoga.com/what-the-bible-says1.html

I did yoga for 17 years – but no more. Not because of this article because God lead me away from it when I became a Christian. And now I see why.

You can stretch without doing Yoga.

Kind regards
Lana

Keith Mosher
Guest

If the question is this “SHOULD a christian participate in Yoga?” The answer for everyone should be simply no. What do I mean? I mean what is the WISEST choice for a christian to make? To not engage in Yoga. It doesn’t mean you CAN’T do Yoga, it means it’s not the wisest choice to make. Here is a simple rule to live life by… if you have to ask all sorts of questions and investigate this or that before you partake in something… leave it alone. Things that truly glorify God never have to be “investigated” further. Also you… Read more »

Joel
Guest
Joel

Keith, I’ve read your points above several times. I have questions. 1. You say, “If you have to ask all sorts of questions and investigate this or that before you partake in something…leave it alone.” The problem with this comment is that I don’t think it reflects what we are taught in the New Testament. Two brief examples: 1 John 4 teaches us to test the spirits. By your logic, if there is a question then we shouldn’t test the spirits, but simply ignore it and leave it alone. Was John wrong to challenge us to test the spirits? The… Read more »

Martinmip
Guest

Hi All im noob here. Good post! Thx! Love your stories!

Bonny
Member

I, too, believe this is an excellent article. You are encouraging each person to take stock and study for themselves whether they would engage in yoga or not. If a person is worried about demonic possession, then they should stay away from it. As with anything, we have to decide for ourselves where we stand. We individually work out our salvation.

We have to approach these difficult subjects with humility. I believe you have done that. Thank you for your bravery.

Alexis
Guest
Alexis

I agree with this article! Each person can decide for themselves. Most yoga classes I’ve been to and videos I’ve done at home are simply exercising!! Nothing spiritual in them, no conjuring up of demons. Westernized yoga is seriously just exercising, it’s no different than doing push-ups and sit-ups, hitting up the gym to use the machines, or taking a Zumba class. It’s just doing slower controlled movements in a quiet atmosphere, which can lend itself to connecting with God and meditating on His attributes, Goodness, and His Word if you’d like to. When others say Namaste you can say… Read more »

Friday Oduma
Member
Friday Oduma

Yoga can open doors to demonic possession, I don’t advice any divinely reasonable Christian to engage in it.

If you want to do Meditation, then meditate on the word of God, and if you want to stretch your body then go for regular exercise. We should not try to make what is demonically inspired look as if it’s now a normal thing for we Christians to do.

The Bible said we should be sober and vigilant.

ro
Guest
ro

friday oduma: and how much yoga have you done young lady? I would not alot if that’s what you got!
Yoga took me to a place where i felt I was being born again. Sorry you hit the wrong button.

Connywithay
Member
Connywithay

At most yoga classes the word “Namaste” is said.
It means “I bow to the god within you.”
I would not go to any class that wants me to say this word – sure, I want others to bow to my God, the Almighty … but never to any other!

lynettereed
Guest
lynettereed

Here is a ministry in the UK that is Christian based using movement for contemplative prayer:
https://contemplativefire.org/resources/prayer/centering-prayer/

Jewel
Guest
Jewel

Jewel
I would just do some normal stretching and meditate on the Word of God and breathing exercises. No yoga classes. I believe it is an open door to the enemy.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

I 100% agree with you Keesha

Keesha
Guest
Keesha

Can i just say there is nothing about Christmas or yoga that glorifies God let’s not kid ourselves. They are both pagan and will always be. God came to redeem us not pagan practices. But of course when we want what we want then we can argue anything to make it right. But always obedience is better than sacrifice.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Yoga calls upon and conjures many demonic spirits. Kundalini for one is a demonic spirit. I wouldn’t do yoga as a Christian. It is a door to the demonic spiritual world.

Lisa Beth
Guest

You’re absolutely right. For many years I was involved with a ministry in India. Many new believers familiar with the U.S. said things like, “I can’t believe we’re coming out of the bondage of Hinduism and Americans are embracing its practices!”

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Written by Julie Workman

Julie Workman enjoys knitting, whitewater rafting, and drinking coffee–usually not all at the same time. She, her husband and their four teenagers are part of a movement of God’s people who are reaching Europe to impact the world.

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