Yoga is not for Christians

If you are an average secular person, you probably never heard anything negative about yoga.

If you are a Christian, you probably heard more positive than negative things about yoga.

Let us be clear from the beginning.

The practice of yoga is grounded in idolatrous and demonic aspects of eastern religions, and Christians who are filled with the Holy Spirit should not partake in it.

As a physician anesthesiologist I regularly ask  patients about their level of physical activity in order to assess their cardiopulmonary status before surgery.  More than half of them claim they practice some form of Pilates exercise mixed with elements of yoga.  This led me to research yoga, and the results I came across were astonishing.

Not only is yoga tremendously popular, but there are many Christians who practice it and there is even “christian yoga” out there.

What is yoga? It literally means “union” or “to yoke” with the universe and the Hindu gods.

Yoga is a school of Hindu philosophy defined as “the stilling of the changing states of the mind.”  Mumbo-Jumbo that makes you smile… But in reality it addresses physical, mental and spiritual techniques geared toward attaining permanent peace.  In the western world we tend to associate yoga with stretching, body posture, breathing exercises and meditation, but these are grounded in a practice meant to unite the individual with the universe and ultimately with the Hindu supreme god.

The Bible strictly forbids Christians from engaging in elements of other religions, in this case Hinduism.  We are called to avoid pagan methods of attaining peace and tranquility, and instead undergo the new birth which will give us a completely new outlook on life:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Rom 12:2 ESV

Attaining a nirvana state of peacefulness via physical posturing and meditation should never be our goal.  By hiding ourselves in Christ we will attain the “peace that surpasses all understanding” which Paul talks about in Philippians 4:7.

What about the so-called benefits of deep breathing and stretching?

Instead of the physical aspects of yoga, I highly recommend traditional exercise like running, biking and swimming which raise the heart rate for sustained periods of time and have been definitively shown to increase the HDL (good cholesterol) and lower the LDL (bad cholesterol).

Incorporating yoga elements in your life will lead to spiritual downfall because of disobedience to God’s Word which is explicit about detesting other gods and worship related to them.

If you are a Christian, you belong to Jesus who paid the ultimate price for you, and therefore yoga and any practice associated with other religions is not for you. 

22 comments on “Yoga is not for Christians

  1. Hi Delight.

    Great post. Many “Christians” need to be aware of the evils associated with any type of Yoga.

    I am familiar with Hinduism. In Hinduism, Narayanan (Vishnu) is the supreme god and it tells he produced Brahma and Shiva. Huh? That’s not in my Bible anywhere.

    Eastern mysticism is a doorway to the occult.

    Henri Nouwen is a good example. His mixture of Christianity with eastern mysticism led him down the path to homosexuality

    He is referenced in every post on mysticism here:

    http://apprising.org/2010/06/04/mysticism/

    As you have stated:

    “If you are a Christian, you belong to Jesus who paid the ultimate price for you, and therefore yoga and any practice associated with other religions is not for you.”

    I could not agree more.

    God’s blessings…

    • Chris, thanks for the comment and the link. I have been on that site before, it offers great resources in light of the Bible with respect to current teaching in the evangelical spectrum.

  2. If Jesus were around, how do you think He would approach yoga? Do you think He would judge and condemn? Would He say it is evil? The comments on this page sound like the comments made by those condemning the prostitute when she came to talk to Jesus. How did He react to her? What were His teachings?

    It’s such a pity that humans have such limited knowledge of Jesus and God’s greatness. He is much too great to focus on such trivial things.

    The world won’t become better unless we look within ourselves to make ourselves better and more compassionate, not judgmental. After all, isn’t that what Jesus taught us?

    • Gin, welcome here.

      I agree with you that we have such limited knowledge of God.

      But based on what we see in the inerrant Word of God, the Bible, we can draw powerful conclusions about who God is. He is a jealous God, that is what the Bible says, and He does not share His glory with anyone.

      He will not accept to see humanity worship other gods, or participate in other religions.

      So, we are not talking about a specific sin here like the sexual sin of the prostitute who repented, but we are talking about YOGA which is a form of worhsip in the Hindu religion. Christians are forbidden from participating in such activity because it is idolatry.

      If Jesus were here in the flesh he would say something like this to those who mingle in indolatry:

      John 8:44 “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires.”

  3. There seem to be many misconceptions. Here’s some clarification from another post regarding yoga specifically:

    Yoga originated in the Hindu religion – I begin with this one simply because it’s the easiest to answer. This is false. Archaelogical findings show that yoga actually predates all of the world’s major religions. While Eastern religions did eventually adapt and codify yoga for their own purposes, it did not begin there. This is an important distinction to make, because many Christians fear yoga as something that was born out of another religion… which just isn’t the case.

    Yoga is a spiritual practice that is meant to align yourself with Eastern religions, the occult, etc. Yoga itself is a methodology, not a theology. How it’s employed is up to each individual participating. For example, as a Christian, I believe in prayer. But I know that Christians are not the only people who pray! Other religions pray, as well as some people who align themselves with NO particular religion. While the method of the prayers may be similar, our theologies that we bring to the prayers make them different. So it is with yoga. Just like prayer, yoga’s benefits can be used by any (or no) religion at all.

    The word “yoga” means to yolk, and join yourself with other Gods. The word “yoga” comes from the Sanscrit word, “yug” which is translated as “to harmonize,” to “bring together,” or yes, to “harness or yoke.” Again, I think it’s important to remember that who or what we’re joining with is up to us. I find the meaning of the word ‘yoga’ beautiful, and think it perfectly illustrates both the coming together of mind, body, and soul; and, as a Christian, the coming together of myself and God.

    The postures are meant to praise and worship other Gods. This is where a lot of people get lost, but I promise it’s not that confusing. Many Christians who fear yoga use this as their basis. “The postures were created to worship other Gods. The postures are inviting evil forces into your heart. Etc.” First, as I stated in point one, the postures were not created for that purpose. Secondly, there is nothing inherently spiritual about a downward dog (or a warrior or a sun salutation) either for good or evil, unless you so decide. The meanings of the poses come from the intent and the heart of the participant. Just because one person – or one religion – assigns a certain spiritual meaning to a posture, it does not mean that that meaning then applies to me whether I like it or not. I’ll be completely honest…. when people tell me that Christians should avoid yoga because we might “accidentally” be worshiping a sun god or a hindu deity, or inadvertently joining ourselves with some kind of cult, my first thought is this: Is your faith really so weak that you fear you have no control over what enters your heart, that you have no control over who or what you do or do not worship? Yes, eastern religions have used yoga postures as part of their worship. And I don’t mean to make light of it, because I respect that it’s a genuine concern for some Christians, but… so what? If some crazy, weird cult sprang up, and decided that as part of one of their spiritual rituals, they would sit naked in a circle in a sweat lodge and eat pizza… would that mean that Christians would then need to forever avoid pizza? That pizza would suddenly cease to be crust, sauce, and cheese and instead become a harbinger of evil forces? Of course not. That’s ridiculous.
    Yes, it’s ridiculous. Pizza is just pizza.
    And yoga is yoga. It is one of the best ways to connect with, stretch, and strengthen your body… while at the same time quieting your mind, calming your spirit, and finding peace in your heart. As a Christian, I’ve never found yoga to be at odds with my faith. Just as importantly, I’ve never worried that it would turn me away from God. In fact, when I’m there on my mat; when I’m finally STILL; when I’ve been able to quiet my mind and actually meditate on something of my choosing (and meditation by the way, is mentioned numerous times in the Bible) what I experience is very much the exact opposite.
    It’s like coming home.
    Copied from: http://www.jennifermcgrail.com/2012/08/should-christians-do-yoga/

    • Gin, thank you for the clarification, but I must insist that as Christians we must be well grounded in Biblical teaching.

      Yoga practice is not found in the Bible in the setting of spirituality, however prayer is an exemplary practice in the Bible as Jesus Himself taught us how to pray.

      Just based on this point I would not accept yoga.

      The writer above mentions yoga as a means to quiet herself and attain peace. Attaining peace is not possible except by being in Christ.

      I am sorry Gin, but yoga is completely foreign to Christian faith.

      • Actually Gin PROVED YOGA IS WRONG WITH HIS DISSERTATION. By definition, WE are NOT to be YOKED with YOGA ….LOL ..THANK YOU GIN!!!

  4. Interestingly ~ the same “reasoning” you give against Yoga is used to decry modern medicine and specifically surgical interventions. Legalistic/literalists, not unlike you, assert that seeking healing from anyone other than God is putting faith/belief/trust in someone other than Him. It’s failing to rest in His Providence &/or healing. Modern medicine is grounded in evolutionary-based science which is an affront to His intelligent design.

    • Thank you for your input.

      I am a physician who practices cutting-edge modern medicine and I reject your assertion and comparison between yoga and medicine…

      How is modern medicine grounded in pagan worship, which is the basic principle of my article?

      How is modern medicine prescribing elements of worship that violate the bible (which yoga does)?

      Jesus Himself said that the sick need the doctor.

      How is modern medicine based in evolution?

      How is evolution a affront to God’s intelligent design?

      These are unfounded, unsupported, and unprovable statements.

      Please elaborate if you don’t mind.

      • First, I must be clear. I don’t actually agree with the poor exegesis of statements regarding modern medicine being incompatible with Scripture. Thus, it’s hard for me to heartily defend it. (In fact, modern medicine plays a significant place in the life and quality of life several members of my family enjoy) My point was that YOU are using similar strategies to denounce Yoga ~ false dichotomy, literal English interpretations, out-of-context verses, assumptions, and personal conviction.

        You have chosen to “define” Yoga in a very specific way (which “Gin” explained is inaccurate) to then turn and explain why it is unBiblibal.

        I could do the same with medicine:
        *Modern medicine is man believing in his supremacy over God’s providence and design. (I’ve met enough doctors to know there are many who believe they know better than God.).
        *Instead of allowing someone to die (or live with the physical limitations) from a birth/genetic defect, medical condition, accident, injury, etc. ~ man is stepping in to “correct” what God has allowed.
        *God uses illness to teach us to rely on Him instead of medicine.
        *Overcoming hardships is mandatory in the life of a Christian.
        *Synthetic chemicals alter God’s design for the body.
        *By His stripes we are healed. (Which seems to be expanded to mean that *only* by His stripes should healing occur).
        *They even use similar statements as your reply to “Gin”: “But based on what we see in the inerrant Word of God, the Bible, we can draw powerful conclusions about who God is. He is a jealous God, that is what the Bible says, and He does not share His glory with anyone.” ~ claiming we are giving His glory to physicians.

        Again, we don’t feel convicted that these negate modern medicine but our family has been the recipient of such “correction” and corresponding “support Scripture” from literal Christians. All who lovingly quote the same Romans 2:2 verse as you ~ to tell us what the mind of God is regarding our health.

        I understand why some are called not to use modern medicine. I fully understand why some believe that God uses medicine to heal His people. I understand why some would feel that Yoga is a hindrance to their relationship with God. I understand why some feel He uses Yoga to bring them into a more consistent time of prayer and meditation with the Holy Spirit. I just disagree with blogging your condemnation of other Christians and asserting their “spiritual downfall”.

        • Rachel, thank you for disagreeing respectfully.

          Again, I will focus on the spirituality of yoga. The very act of worship in the context of hinduism is the reason why the yoga/medicine comparison is not appropriate.

          There is no spirituality to what I do in the operating room everyday. It is not an act of worship. It is not an act meant to achieve peace with the universe. It is not an act of using elements foreign to the Bible in worship.

          On the other hand yoga does the things I just mentioned.

          I am not using the dichotomy-type arguments you brought up, I have not even quoted much Scripture except the verse from Romans, much less take Scripture out of context.

          I am however using principles laid forth in the Bible regarding worship. It is simple, we should not use another religion’s mode of worship in our worship/prayer/meditation toward the Triune God.

  5. Delight in truth, you have a bunch of non Christian Christians writing on your blog, or maybe a bunch of confused Christians. You might have to start with the basics of the Gospel first .

  6. Very interesting post. Having done yoga for years, actually I just call it stretching, and never been influenced me away from the truth. Your viewpoint is new to me and worth considering. I suppose that some may be draw to eastern religions and occult. But, I think it is mainly because they have a lack of faith already and by this confusion can be easily influenced. I know many who practice yoga, and also judo and karate, all of eastern influence, but their beliefs remain intact and separate. I think you might be overreacting to ghosts where there are none.

    • I am not against exercise and stretching. They are very good for one’s health. I am however against yoga because of its spiritual implications. These implications are grounded in eastern religion, attaining inner peace via meditation, and becoming one with the universe. Such concepts are completely foreign to the Bible.

      • Have u ever even done or seen someone do yoga? Probably not because its usually people who have no clue about an issue that tend to jump to argue against it. Inform yourself and not just by searching the net or books. I am strong in my faith and I have done yoga. Believe me when I say I am “demon” free. No spirits entered my body. I love and praise God and cry at his word and awesomeness. I have seen “christian” preachers who preach against this yet their life is not exemplary for others. Like any job out there you have to have work experience. I suggest you get some work experience and then come back and give us your understanding of yoga.

        • Dear Marinela,

          It’s great that you love and praise God and cry at His Word. But His Word is clear, especially in the OT that our Triune God is holy, righteous and even jealous, and He detests when his children mingle with elements of heathen worship! This is the story of the people of Israel.

          That is why yoga participation is not ok for Christians.

          Are the many articles and books about yoga wrong regarding its spiritual aspects and Hindu worship origin?

        • Im not saying the books arent correct, im just saying I dont worship them. God is a jealous God and we shouldnt have other idols or as you say heathen worship but we could also throw in another “idol”. Christmas trees. In Jeremiah 10 it speaks about it as if it were an idol but you dont see people making a fuss over this. No, they can barely wait to get the tree out some as early as november. I understand where you are coming from but if we are going to “dissect” one thing that is against God then why dont we do it to all: homosexuality, drugs, alcohol, etc. I dont mean to come off as mean. Sorry if I did. God bless.

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