Should Christians Practice Yoga?

Yoga (/ˈjoʊɡə/; Sanskrit: योग, Listen) is an Indian physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline. There is a broad variety of schools, practices and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism (including Vajrayana and Tibetan Buddhism and Jainism). The best-known are Hatha yoga and Raja yoga.

“Why would Christians want to borrow an expression from a false religion, from pantheism, god is everything, you’re god, everything is god. We believe there is only one true God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Why would we need to import that? If you want to exercise, exercise but why borrow a term that has been part of a false religion for centuries?” – John MacArthur

Yoga, like many other pagan practices, is a growing trend not only within this nation but among Christians. Many Christians would see Yoga as a harmless form of exercise. I believe that we should examine this issue via the Scriptures rather than allow our own ideas of this and this wicked culture be our guide.

I would like to point out that Yoga, by its definition, is not merely a physical exercise. It is also mental and spiritual practice. This is important to the subject. Yoga, as a exercise, invokes mental and spiritual practices. Here is a quote from a prominent figure of Yoga regarding this point:

"By the definite science of meditation known for millenniums to the yogis and sages of India, and to Jesus, any seeker of God can enlarge the caliber of his consciousness to omniscience to receive within himself the Universal Intelligence of God." - Paramahansa Yogananda

It is interesting to note the reference to Jesus. I find this very odd. Paramahansa Yogananda was an Indian yogi and guru who introduced millions of westerners to the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his book, Autobiography of a Yogi. This issue of meditation to “enlarge the caliber of consciousness to omniscience” is nothing short of being demonic. It invokes the very words of the serpent in the garden: For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. – Genesis 3:5

There is only one God and only Yahweh is omniscient or “all knowing.” That is not something we, as finite creatures, can attain. Furthermore, the Scriptures teach us to meditate, not by looking within ourselves or by emptying our minds, as taught within Yoga. Rather, we are to have “the mind of Christ” and meditate upon God’s Law.

In Leviticus 18, we see that the Israelites were specifically told to avoid pagan practices.

Yahweh spoke to Moses: “Speak to the Israelites and tell them: I am Yahweh your God. Do not follow the practices of the land of Egypt, where you used to live, or follow the practices of the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. You must not follow their customs. You are to practice My ordinances and you are to keep My statutes by following them; I am Yahweh your God. Keep My statutes and ordinances; a person will live if he does them. I am Yahweh.

We see that there is a clear contrast between the practices of the pagan land and the practices and ordinances of God. Pagan practices, whether it be demonic summoning, child sacrifices, or even tattoos, all trace back to a root evil departure of God and His “practices.” We cannot begin to “redeem” these sorts of evil designs by merely viewing them as harmless. Yoga is coming from an evil and pagan religion and one that participates in these behaviors are no less invoking the same evil and demonic worship as they were originally designed for.

Regarding Pietra “fitness” notice this interesting Q and A here:

Q. Is Pietra Fitness “Christian Yoga” or “Catholic Yoga”?
A. No.  There are other programs and teachers that call their workouts “Christian yoga” or “Catholic Yoga,” but Pietra Fitness is not one of them.  An exercise program cannot be both because Christianity (coming from Christ) and yoga (based in Hinduism) have fundamental differences in theology and philosophy.  Most Hindu and Christian philosophers would agree that “Christian Yoga” is an oxymoron because the practice is not truly yoga unless it incorporates Hindu spirituality and/or worldview. Likewise, Christian activities are firmly centered on Christ. Yoga cannot offer the fullness of a program designed to minister to the human person as he/she is understood within the Christian faith.  Christ tells us, “No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other…” –Mt 6: 24

The irony here is that this “Pietra” fitness is nothing more than a repackaged form of Yoga which “seek[s] full integration of mind, body, and soul.  We stretch and strengthen the body while combining our workout with Christian prayer and meditation based on Catholic spirituality.  People of all beliefs are welcome to attend."

Yoga is not working if parts of it are not followed correctly, especially the “spiritual” and “mental” aspects of it. Yoga is a complete package which is entirely centered on pagan spirituality which the "exercise" is based upon.

One Christian that I recently spoke to about this subject offered the position of “redeeming” the practice and using it unto God’s glory. I asked, “Would you also do the same regarding Ramadan and then call it “Christ-adan?” Where would Christians draw the line now? What of practicing transcendental meditation and then saying the same thing? How can one even begin to see this line of reasoning as wise and moral?

Let us remember these Scriptures when addressing this subject:

Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Psalm 1:1-3: “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.  He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water.  Which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.”

Psalm 119:15: “I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways.”

Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

John MacArthur appeared on CNN discussing this issue against the heretic Doug Paggit here:

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