Should Christians Participate in Yoga? The Answer May Surprise You.

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Everything Christians do, say, or think either reveals God’s glory or hides it. Whenever Christians speak of bringing glory to God, we must understand that we are not speaking of adding to God’s glory. God’s “glory bank” isn’t being constantly emptied and filled based on how His children daily live. His glory exists from eternity past and extends further than eternity future; and there is nothing that can change this; however Christians can reveal or hide His glory. There literally is nothing neutral in this life.

Yoga is no different. It too either reveals God’s glory or hides it; as does its participants. Concerning its pagan origins and theological implications, Al Mohler writes:

The bare fact is that yoga is a spiritual discipline by which the adherent is trained to use the body as a vehicle for achieving consciousness of the divine. Christians are called to look to Christ for all that we need and to obey Christ through obeying his Word. We are not called to escape the consciousness of this world by achieving an elevated state of consciousness, but to follow Christ in the way of faithfulness.

Attempting to escape the consciousness of this world, even for a moment, apart from the finished work of Christ, is trusting in a false gospel. It is an attempt to be divine, to achieve God’s consciousness apart from trusting in Christ’s life, death, burial, and resurrection. Christians must rather trust in Christ alone seeking to live in this sinful world while representing Him well. He has freed us from this world through His finished work; and will one day return and get us, ultimately freeing us from this world through His finished work.

Yoga thus is still evil because it still possesses some of its origins. If these spiritual aspects are removed, then you are left with simply exercise; and I’m sure Mohler is not against exercise. Mohler writes, “There is nothing wrong with physical exercise, and yoga positions in themselves are not the main issue.” So, if you’re exercising, don’t call it “Yoga,” unless the pagan spiritual aspects are still involved.

In conclusion, should Christians participate in Yoga? Absolutely not! Christians are free to exercise unto the glory of God; however, it is impossible for a Christian to reveal God’s glory through participating in Yoga. Thus, if you decide to participate in Yoga, you decide to hide God’s glory.

What do you think?

This article was originally posted at my site. Only some of my articles are posted on SBC Voices. If you would like access to all of my articles, you can follow my feed here. You can also connect with me on TwitterFacebook, and Google+.

Comments

  1. says

    I agree. I have this arguement at the gym all the time with both christians and non christians. Its like trying to do tai chi without the chi, just find a traditional formof exercise and god will bless that

  2. Smuschany says

    I suppose this also means no Christian can/should practice any form of martial art including but not limited to Kung Fu, Aikido, Jujitsu, Tae Kwan Do, Karate, ect. The reason being that nearly every current form of martial arts can trace its roots back to religious origin’s uses. For instance, Japanese arts such as Aikido, Jujitsu, and Karate (Karate has duel Japanese and Chinese roots to its origins, particularly in the Shotokan/Okinawan forms of the art) are centered around Zen-Buddhism and the art of “centering” oneself. Chinese arts such as Kung Fu, originated out of Buddhist monasteries. Even TaeKwanDo which is almost completely modern in its origin, still has ties to East Asian Philosophies, particularly the Confucian “Ijing” (aka I Ching).

    With that being said, I guess there is no way for Christians to study a martial art, for means of physical fitness, or self defense. Good to know.

    • says

      Smuschany, so long as the pagan elements are not emphasized or believed. Moving the body in a certain way isn’t evil. I don’t care about the “origins,” I care if the origins are emphasized. I celebrate Halloween with my family, not based on its origins, but based on its American holiday tradition. The pagan elements aren’t present. If we can dress up on any other day of the week other than Oct. 31st, and God is cool with it, then we can dress up any day of the week, period.

      Concerning yoga however, it is never ok to try to escape this world through a false gospel, even for a moment. Thus, if you like yoga, instead of “thinking on nothing” or “emptying yourself,” instead think on truth (Phil. 4:8).

      I don’t think that I fully understand your question about martial arts? Are you asking if it’s ok to learn how to defend yourself from pagans? If so, my answer is yes. But, is God cool with you praying to their gods, or meditating on nothing? Nope.

      • John Wylie says

        Jared,

        That was a great answer brother. I love the way you keep things very clear. I wish others would learn that practise.

  3. Christiane says

    I remember a film where a sister worried that her missionary brother would be ‘distracted’ by his participation in an activity that was not focused ‘on Christ’ and might conflict with his Christian mission.

    But the story . . . well, take a look for yourself:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yoDE-3dTvU&NR=1

    If we encounter a world that needs Christ,
    it is quite possible that we can point others to Him
    in how we handle that encounter . . .

    Eric Liddell died a missionary in China . . . but he is remembered for honoring God with a strength that came from humility.
    In the presence of pressures to ‘give in’ to the ways of this world and not to keep the Lord’s Day holy, Eric Liddell chose to honor God . . . he would not run on Sunday, but on another day, he won for Britain in the Olympics honorably;
    and later, as a missionary, when he persevered and completed his final effort for Christ in China, all Scotland mourned his passing.

    I guess it is possible for a follower of Christ to live in this world, and be not ‘of this world’. And to do it without fearfulness.

  4. cb scott says

    I have never practiced Yoga. I did watch Yogi Bear religiously when I was young.
    I have had many a “Boo-Boos” from head to toe inflicted upon me by Martial Artists. I don’t think any of them were praying to a god at the time, but many of them were cussin’ me in various languages while they sought to whack me using some kind of “Open Hand” skill or skin me with some kind of edged weapon. I am certain that most of them were some kind of pure pagan of some sort.

    Ultimately, I can assure you that having a superior ability at a few forms of Martial Arts has and will quickly help a guy dispatch pagans (both domestic and foreign) when they attack and will convince others to not even try.

    • says

      I must admit that I’ve wanted to be a ninja since the time I was little. And over the years, I’ve created a super-ninja in my mind: Some combination of Jack Bauer, MacGyver, and Chuck Norris.

      • cb scott says

        The perfect Martial Arts discipline against a Ninja attack is called .45-Model 1911.

        If you become proficient in the use of the .45-Model 1911 Martial Arts discipline, you can dispatch several Ninjas at a time.

        But never, never, never try to meditate or close your eyes when practicing the .45 1911 Martial Arts discipline.

        You must be very “this world” focused. If you close your eyes and try to meditate, you might harm a by-stander or blow off your one of your feet.

    • cb scott says

      Also fellows,

      If you do get into a set-to with a Yoga guy, just be patient.

      Wait until he is in his “other state” and free of himself. Then when he puts his legs behind his head, sneak up behind him. Put your right foot just below his neck and pull real hard on both of his legs. I promise you, no matter how devoted he is to his god or how free of himself he is, he will never give you another moment’s grief.

      • Lydia says

        “Wait until he is in his “other state” and free of himself. Then when he puts his legs behind his head, sneak up behind him. Put your right foot just below his neck and pull real hard on both of his legs. I promise you, no matter how devoted he is to his god or how free of himself he is, he will never give you another moment’s grief.”

        Ok, I laughed out loud.

      • says

        Brother CB,

        Good to see you out on the town again. I understand the power of a .45-Model 1911 and how it can take care of the Ninja attack. However, just the appearance of the the double-action Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44-cal. Magnum revolver will make the Ninga/Yoga dudes “jump back jack.” If you remember it was that great philosopher Clint Eastwood that used this weapon most effectively when he said; “Go ahead, make my day.”

        :)

        Christiane is going to think we are both neanderthals. :)

        Blessings,
        Tim

        • cb scott says

          Hey Tim,

          Yeah, I have been roaming about some here of late. Good to have an exchange with you on the blogs. It reminds me of the hot Baptist Blog times back a few years ago.

          Are you watching the MLB games? I just watched Vol’s Redbirds take one on the beak from the Brewers. Also the Tigers stayed alive against the Rangers tonight.

          So you like the Model 29? That thing weighed more than a Chevy 327 short block. I used one as an emergency boat anchor during a hurricane back in ’68. Boat blew away, so I loaded myself into one of those big .44 Magnum chambers and shot myself to safety. I landed up in Idaho. Yeah, you are right. That was some powerful weapon. :-)

          BTW, It is back in production again as a “Classic” Model 29. That’s kinda like you within the SBC, an “Ole Southern Baptist Classic Model.” :-)

  5. says

    I think most people do not associate yoga with a spiritual discipline. I would have to say that if your local yoga class is simply yoga poses done in a meditative environment, you’re fine. The moment you step beyond meditative (which can be Christian) and move towards a spiritual experience, you need to find a new class or a different exercise.

    Again, I think most Christians who attend yoga classes likely are either going their own way mentally when the instructor speaks of spiritual things or are involved in yoga movement classes that lack the spiritual aspect.

    Excellent post; thinking about what we believe, why we believe it, and how those beliefs interact with our actions are all valuable things. Good job.

    • Ben Woods says

      Jeremy,

      I agree with your point totally. The whole issue with this discussion, especially when Mohler started everything, was that he seemed to be totally out of touch with the popular vernacular.

      The word “yoga”, for a vast majority of people today, DOES just refer to the physical exercise. Insisting that everyone use a different word for it is a pointless endeavor…akin to insisting we rename certain holidays because of the pagan roots of their names.

      I love Mohler to death, but I think sometimes he forgets that, especially on major issues like this, he isn’t interacting with scholarship (and therefore the scholastic definition of words like “yoga”) but with people at large.

  6. Lydia says

    I am always puzzled when I see a church advertise for Christian Yoga classes. Isn’t that sort of like advertising for Christian Gnosticism? Why not call it Advanced Stretching and be done with it?

  7. Louis says

    Yes! I really enjoy Yoga, especially hot Yoga. I ought to go more. I am really tight from all the running and cycling I do.

    But the big difference is I go to the “non-spiritual” classes. So, it’s mainly advanced stretching, as Lydia suggested above.

    I can’t change the name because I am not running the place.

    • Christiane says

      LOUIS,
      my daughter does the hot yoga classes and they have been really beneficial to her health

    • Lydia says

      Louis, My whole perception of you has changed since I know about hot yoga. Please promise me you are not wearing tight spandex work out knickers with racing stripes.

  8. sal says

    I think Christians should participate in anything that originates from a false worldview if it can be separated from that worldview and ‘baptized.’ Yoga certainly qualifies as something that can be sanctified toward good purposes.

    • says

      sal–Off topic but that won’t matter since you won’t give a “yes” or “no” answer. Is it possible for someone (say from another faith like islam) to go to heaven without repenting of their sins and personally, consciously trusting in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus for salvation? Yes or No?

  9. says

    After they , Christians , are confident they have solved this humongous problem can they then consider whether they are smart enough to tell us for whom to vote. Jerks.

    • cb scott says

      Jack,

      It seems, from the construction of your comment above, that you:

      1. Do not consider yourself a Christian.
      2. Christians are all jerks.
      3. Your understanding of life and its issues are beyond the cognitive domains of Christians, who by your definitive opus above, are all jerks.

      Does that about sum up your sentiments Jack?

      • says

        cb scott , As usual you have spent far too much time on the wrong subject and have come to all the wrong conclusions. Try eating less or at least taking your medicine regularly to achieve a better outlook.

        • cb scott says

          Jack,

          I have no idea what you are in reference to regarding eating and medication so I will forget that, just as I did you little reference to the Confederate Flag a few days ago.

          The only subject I addressed was your comment. A simple reading of my comment by any one of average intelligence will reveal that. You avoided an answer. I think you do that often. Why I even addressed you in the first place is a puzzle to me. I made a mistake, to think you would or could articulate a reasonable answer as to the substance of your comment and its accusations against Christians. You always seem to have a chip on your shoulder and you seem to need to degrade other people for no reason and at will.

          Nonetheless, it was foolish of me to engage you. For that, I apologize. May you find peace of heart and mind. That will give you a far better outlook.

          • says

            cb scott – No apology is necessary and I would like to offer you the part in a skit of “Boss Hogg” who is playing the part of a rural Alabama minister who is stumping for Ron Paul; and you are riding on the trunk of a convertible General Lee with beautiful portrayals of the Confederate Flag painted on the hood and trunk. You will also wear the Humongous Smith & Wesson .500 Magnum stoked with Hornady 300 grain Evolution rounds, and carried in a bandoleer holster and you can be heard saying the words, never once has Paul voted to limit gun ownership – to which the crowd roars its approval bringing a smile to your face. There’s room for another on this trunk and I might suggest either Herman Cain or Joe Blackmon. You might have to hold Joe’s hand as he doesn’t see perfectly I’m told and might not be able to “lean” into the corners to keep from sliding off the highly polished back. One other tip I will offer in the spirit of admiration is that this handgun will have the “Alaskan Modification” used to chase the wild and elusive grizzly – the front sight has been completely ground down. I would like to ride shotgun in the General Lee and have complete control of the “Dixie” horn. A professional Union Teamster will be the driver of course. How does this sound so far? It could pay well.

  10. volfan007 says

    Jack,

    How dare you say that CB would carry a Smith and Wesson. He and his brothers, Villa Rica and company, only use Colt revolvers. And boy, can they ever quick draw. They’re fast.

    CB, I wont need you to help me install my Dixie horn on my car this weekend after the TN vs. Alabama game. I already got Bubba to help me do it. Sounds great. But, maybe you and your brothers could help me introduce Jack to some good ole, Southern fire ants?

    lol

    David :)

    • says

      volfan007 , I’m familiar with pesky fire ants which if they get under the rugs in a house can eat everybody up. It’s important to know when you only have one round left which way the cylinder rotates on a Colt or on a S&W revolver – they’re opposite. Also important to NOT pull the trigger on a “quick draw” before the gun clears the leather or you’ll kill yourself. I’m serious and that’s a trap a young person can fall into just playing around.

    • says

      Lydia – I never used the word “Hate” or entered that mindset until Dr. Richard Land used his position to oppose the Federal Hate Crime Law which Obama signed and has been used several times successfully in taking a case of a well connected person charged with a hate crime away from the local jurisdictions and into Federal Court. It’s going to prevent crimes by even the young that don’t bother to think first before acting out some “club” discussion.

  11. says

    Joe Blackmon , – If you believe that being a homosexual is a sin that permits “Christians” to kill them, wrap them in a barbed wire fence and is justified by the Bible then you are responsible for the Laws creation.

  12. sal says

    Here we go again: this time we’re going to Mohlerize yoga. I wonder what his commentary on pork chops is…godly or no? Too much fat…cholesterol…must be ungodly. Can’t give glory to God by eating pork chops (especially on Sundays). Better to fast.

  13. Christiane says

    I think some Christians are afraid that the ‘hate crimes’ bill will curb their ability to preach concerning ‘homosexuality’, but I don’t think they need to worry about it.

    Reason:
    remember this . . . “Supreme Court upholds Westboro Baptist Church’s right to stage anti-gay protests at funerals of U.S. troops.”

    • Christiane says

      Point being: how could the Supreme Court zero in on any Southern Baptist preacher saying anything at all about the topic of homosexuality AFTER stating that Westboro has the right to do the same thing ? It wouldn’t make sense.

  14. sal says

    Everytime I see that guy on TV I want to laugh hysterically. He’s so funny. So crazy. And so just plain goofy. Then he has these people in his church just like himself. I actually read in an article that they’re mostly relatives.