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Can Christians do yoga?
Thank you for getting in touch with us with this important question about yoga. I wonder has someone told you that doing yoga is wrong, or is it that you have been practising yoga but have nagging doubts about whether you should be doing so? Every true Christian has the Holy Spirit living within them and that uneasiness about something is really a gift of discernment from Him. If you do feel uncomfortable about doing yoga then you should take it very seriously indeed.
Some Christians do practise yoga and seem to feel quite comfortable in doing so. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the stretches and positions involved and stretching is very good for your body. However, it is not as simple as that. Yoga is deeply rooted in the Hindu religion and every pose is an act of homage to one of their 330 million gods. You, of course, are not offering the moves to any particular god but the God of Heaven and Earth, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, are you comfortable with doing these moves when they have this background?
The point of doing yoga is to unite oneself with the gods of Hinduism. While we may intend nothing religious or idolatrous when we do yoga, we are also asked to practise pranayama breathing (which is meant to connect us with the 'life-force' in order to make it do our will) and Hindu-style meditation (emptying the mind and, often, repeating sacred sounds, in order to achieve spiritual enlightenment). A person has to be very strong in spirituality and in their will and character, to withstand the false ideas being introduced by the yoga instructor and remain fully consecrated to God in their thinking. False ideas have a way of slowly infiltrating our thinking so that, little by little, we are led away from God without really realising that it is happening.
The Bible says,
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 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. (Romans 12:2)
When your instructor asks you to breathe in life and to return it to the universe, or talks about 'energy' or 'the circle of life', this ignores God and suggests that He is not personal. What is more, when you are asked to clear or empty your mind, you are doing something which is Hindu and not Christian meditation. The Bible tells us to take every thought captive.
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
The mind is important and what you do with it is important. You were meant to fill your thoughts with truth and remain in control of what happens in your mind.
Even if you can withstand these Hindu ideas, you need to consider, too, whether you might encourage another person to become involved who cannot withstand this wrong teaching. The Bible tells us to give up our rights if necessary, for the good of others.
Take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak, warns the Bible in 1 Corinthians 8:9.
We are meant to be leading people towards Christ, not away from Him.
Many people testify that practising yoga gives them peace of mind, relaxation and a fitter body. They enjoy the stretches and the silence and feel focused. I had a neighbour who invited me to join her in a yoga class. I had been a Christian for many years and thought of yoga as being just a physical exercise. However, I began to feel so uncomfortable about the idea that I knew it would not be wise to go until I had dealt with whatever it was that made me feel so badly about it. I realised that I could not involve myself with something so associated with another religion. I needed to keep my mind and body for Christ.
If yoga makes you feel good and your conscience honestly does not trouble you, then you are free to follow your conscience. We have no right to tell you what to do and the Bible contains no specific instructions regarding yoga. However, remember that Christian freedom is given to us so that we can voluntarily dedicate ourselves to Christ and live for Him.
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbour as yourself." (Galatians 5:13-14)
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
I hope this answer helps you to find peace with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: Watch the video
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*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
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