Should Christians Do Yoga?

via @yoga_digest

Christians against yoga has long been an established belief, I assume primarily due to the non-Christian roots of the beginnings of yoga. Even though I was raised in what many would consider a very strict, conservative home, I was never particularly taught anything against yoga.

I remember there being a sense of caution pointed in my direction when I first expressed an interest in the practice and being aware that some Christians would wonder at the it, but I never was told not to or given any specific arguments against it.

Besides the initial hesitations towards yoga I vaguely sensed in my teen years, I hadn’t thought much else of it.

Until recently, when I was spending time with a friend who was asking my opinion on the topic. Evidently I had been doing some unconscious thought about it already, because I was quick to give a response on whether Christians should do yoga.

Short answer: yes.

Now before we all start freaking out to the words yes and should, let me explain my thought process.

People who believe Christians should not do yoga believe this largely because of the mystical-spiritual roots it was created in. It is largely a buddhist and hindu practice that could involve anything from showing religious discipline to joining mind, body, spirit, to connecting with the universe.

I do not think we should all become buddhist or hindu. However I think there are many aspects of the yoga practice and mediation that we Christians can utilize; even some that we should utilize.

Here’s why:

2. “Greater is He who is in us that He who is in the world.”

But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. 1 John 4:4

Christians do not need to believe that if we do a yoga pose, we are at risk of losing our salvation. We don’t have to worry that meditating or clearing our minds is automatically going to allow demonic forces into it. We have the power in us that raised Jesus from the dead and overcame hell.

Now this doesn’t mean that we’re to be negligent, ignorant, or blinded. We don’t have to go full-fledge, gung-ho into everything yoga – with all of it’s philosophies and teaching. We must continue to pursue our relationship with Christ, but as long as we know we’re good in that area, we need not fear other spiritual forces. We have the strongest on our side.

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Romans 8:11

Because of this, I believe it’s wrong, perhaps even sinful, to make decisions based out of fear.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

If your only reason for not doing yoga is because you fear allowing other supernatural forces to invade, it’s is not a good enough reason, and the real problem is probably to be found by asking why you’re afraid that the power of Jesus in you isn’t strong enough to overcome all else.

2. “Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!”

Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! Genesis 1:31

via @yoga_digest

God created everything and said it was “good”.

Everything.

That means everything – what we started with and the way our human bodies are created to function – God considered good.

Anything that is now not good, is nothing more than a perversion of what was created for good. 

Satan is not a creator. He is clever, but not creative. No sin he has “made” is intrinsically his. He takes what God spoke into existence and distorts it into lies and evil. Even he himself was created beautiful by God and perverted Himself with pride into the enemy of God. To say anything otherwise is to give him way more credit than he deserves.

If this is true, it means anything bad or sinful can be redeemed for good; or restored to its original good.

3. “Do not be anxious about anything.”

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

For instance: yoga focuses on relaxation, calming anxieties, and peace. Certain poses and stretches can help release chemicals and hormones that physiologically relieve stress.

Is our God not the Creator of the chemical and hormonal functions of our human bodies? Did not Jesus Himself say to be anxious for nothing, but rather praise allow room for His peace?

If I find a way my God-created body can worship Him by obeying the charge to be anxious about nothing, shouldn’t I utilize that God-given ability?

If buddhist monks discovered the way the human body can answer this charge from Jesus before Christians, does that mean it’s intrinsically evil?

No.

God created our bodies. We answer to God. We are His agents to restore this world for Him back to its original purposes and design. We shouldn’t stifle a divinely created way to worship God with all of our strength (Mark 12:30) and allow the Holy Spirit’s fruit of self-discipline to work in us (Galatians 5:22-23) simply because non-Christians found it first.

4. “Take captive everything thought and fix them on what is true.”

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

via @yoga_digest

via @yoga_digest

I would suggest to you that meditation was God’s before it was yoga’s.

Many of us have only heard of meditation in association with yoga and seem to have totally looked over how many times the word “meditate” appears throughout the book of Psalms (48:9, 119:15, 77:12, 119:27, 119:148, 143:5, 145:5). Constantly King David and the psalmists are talking about the importance and benefits of meditating on God’s Word and His ways.

When I was reading through the Psalms a couple years ago, I noticed how much meditation was mentioned and figured it must be important if it’s talked about in the Bible so much. I’ve personally found meditation to not only be hugely helpful in calming any anxieties, but also in discovering truths in Scriptures and realizing how they can positively transform my life.

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Joshua 1:8

What do you think? Do you agree with these points or would you still suggest Christians should completely stay away yoga?

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6 thoughts on “Should Christians Do Yoga?

  1. mari says:

    I find Yoga the best way to calm my mind…my emotions and truly think of the words of God. It is fear that keeps so many believers into trying out this wonderful practice. I have been a Yogi for over 10 years now…and my faith has grown and cemented! Thank you for sharing. mari

  2. Bethany Roca says:

    I love this post! I have been practicing yoga for 5 years now and have read several Christian blogs about it. I agree with everything you said. Yoga has always been a time that I take to calm down and slow down During my week. Even during yoga classes I take the meditating time to pray. Great blog Anna

    • annasadlerblog says:

      Thanks for the encouragement! I really have enjoyed yoga when I’ve done it but still haven’t practiced regularly. I think it’s because I really don’t know enough about it and the poses to find a regular routine I can do at home. I’d love to talk sometime about what you’ve found works for you!

  3. susandove says:

    I think that it should be a discussion these days. Perhaps because of my past I am more sensitive than many whom were raised up in a church, perhaps it’s my past where I dabbled in Wiccan and New Age religion that I can say that the line between New Age and Christian is so fine in so many ways.

    I often give the example of having gone to a spiritual medium and having my future read or given to me and then after being saved having a true prophet speak prophetic words into my
    life. I was shaken how close or similar they were. They both spoke very similarly, they both gave me things that touched me profoundly and deeply, the differences were very, very subtle. One was biblically based, confirmed by scripture, a separate confirmation was given within a short period of time and I was left with a peace that really surpassed all understanding. But as a new Christian I was not really aware of the differences and fortunate for me a mentor was and taught me the differences.

    In yoga they do pranayama breathing where you center on your life force similar to your chi in karate – it is your inner core. Sounds innocent doesn’t it? I mean we have our inner spirit as Christians, we believe we have body mind and spirit, so what’s the deal? Well that is the slippery slope…..probably your fine. Esp. If you practice Hatha yoga, which is the exercise without the spirituality, but some people think that’s like saying you can be a Christian Buddist or a Christian Hindu. Is that possible?

    I don’t think that your going to be robbed of your Christianity. I think it’s more subtle than that, it’s more like just opening yourself up a crack to the things Satan does want to steal from you. Now I fully believe that greater is He in you than he who is in the world. But what of our example to a weaker Christian or a new Christian who might not have that strength and training.

    The roots of Yoga are in the Hindu belief that you offer your body to the gods by the clearing of your mind, centering on your inner prana and If you do what you are taught then you will be accepted by their gods. Not God. I again say I am no biblical scholar and am a relatively new believer but I know Acts 15:29 says something like we should stay away from stuff offered to idols. Does that mean stay away from these postures offered to idols? I don’t know, that would be for a more biblically scholarly person than me to know.

    But I know when to say this……I am not sure so I think I may have to find a different form of stretching and rather than meditating to clear my mind for idols, I will clear my mind and meditate on His word. Maybe I am not as good a Christian as you so maybe I’ll try to stay away from anything that has it’s roots in idol stuff.

    But Halloweens ok…….lol.

    • annasadlerblog says:

      Susan, I love your points here! I would add to my post that if yoga is something that would dance on the edge of something that has previously been a struggle or temptation, one should definitely avoid it! Just like I avoid horror movies or other such things because I feel I could easily fall into a spirit of fear, or individuals who struggle with lust should be extra careful about the shows they watch or the songs they listen to. It’s important to know one’s own individual struggles.

      I agree with your point about how it may be perceived by others – primarily weak Christians or non-Christians, who may see a more mature Christian practicing yoga, decide to try it, then get overly involved in the hindu/buddhist side of it. Both of these are excellent cautions and I’m so grateful you brought them up!

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