A question that haunts many Christians, “Can Christians do Yoga?” has several points of view—the Christian apologetics point of view, the cultural point of view, and the spiritual point of view. These perspectives, on whether Christian Yoga is or is not okay, really come down to two key questions. “Is it right or is it wrong?” (according to the Bible). “Is it Christian or is it not Christian?” (being Christian in the world).
So, Can Christians Do Yoga? Let’s Take A Deep Dive Into The Issues!
It’s a common and understandable predicament. Many Christians in the Western world want to keep up with the latest trends, be on top of the latest thinking, or simply integrate a bit of relaxation time into their hectic schedule. So, they get on the yoga bandwagon! In fact, some Christians don’t know any better and think Yoga has always been Christian (or at least that it’s always been friendly to Christians!).
Yoga is so popular and mainstream that all sorts of people attend during the week, from professional business people and stay-at-home mothers to college students and retirees. Yoga classes take place in stylish, trendy, expensive, and even church-run centers. Many students are looking for a place of true relaxation, or perhaps some kind of “spiritual experience.”
However, not all Yoga is created equal. While it’s true that the term “yoga” is simply Sanskrit for “yoke,” a leash or a connection point, many forms of Yoga are not religious or spiritual in nature at all. But within the realm of the Christian religion, the view of Yoga can vary radically, from Protestant faiths considering it to be completely compatible with Christianity to fundamentalist Christians considering it to bedevil worship and from conservative Catholic and Orthodox groups to liberal ones considering it to be an impediment to Christian salvation.
Understanding Yoga’s Divisions & Subdivisions
First, we need to understand that Yoga is not a monolithic religion, but rather a term used to describe a variety of distinct practices (like Vinyasa, Laughter, Ashtanga) that have been mixed, merged, and shaped into very different teachings over the years. Each school of Yoga has a different view of their “ultimate” state, where a variety of different explanations and outcomes are believed. So just as Christianity has an eclectic mix of churches, so also Yoga has an eclectic mix of practices.
Second, the different schools of Yoga share an ultimate goal of gaining “the insight that one’s own essential nature is that of pure consciousness (Purusha) or awareness (Prakriti).” At their highest level of spiritual achievement, this Yoga achievement is seen as “liberation from suffering and the union with Purusha or an eternal blissful state.”
The conclusion here is that Yoga is not a religion nor is it separate from religion but actually is a technique “for reaching the goal of every religion, that is, to escape from the cycle of rebirths.
Can Christians Do Yoga as Exercise?
Yes, if you have a modern, advancing, and generous view of Christianity, you can! And you can also do Yoga if you are simply a “spiritual person” seeking to expand your mind, body, and spirit.
No, if you have more of a traditional, conservative—or even fundamentalist—Christian view, you can’t! If you want to connect Yoga to some religion, neglecting all it’s proven benefits, such as stretching, breathing, strength, and balance, you can forget about it being beneficial for you.
Yes, you can do yoga as a Christian as long as you are willing to draw the right conclusion. It will help your mind, body, and soul!