Biblical Principles That Apply To The Practice Of Yoga
Here are six principles from Scripture that I believe we should apply to the practice of yoga. I tried to keep my summary of each principle short for the sake of this blog post. Realize, though, that each principle could be discussed at length on its own. Hopefully, my short summary and Scripture references can be a starting point for your own study of Gods Word as it relates to yoga.
Remember, that Scripture says to examine everything carefully hold fast to that which is good . We should be like the Christians in Berea, who studied the Scriptures daily so that they could properly examine the teachings they were hearing. .
Christians Should Actively Pursue Holiness
The first principle to apply to yoga is that, as Christians, we should be actively pursuing holiness in our lives instead of trying to see how close to evil we can get without sinning. 1 Peter 1:15-16 says, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior because it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
How much of this pagan practice can I incorporate into my life without sinning? is not the right question to ask of someone who is striving to be more like Christ. Some better questions to ask are, Will this practice help me pursue holiness? Will it make me more Christ-like? Will it draw me closer to God? Will it bring God glory?
Are You Calling On Hindu Gods With The Yoga Poses
No. Some people believe that certain yoga poses are calling unto Hindu Gods. I believe thats not true at all and that stretching or exercising , cant be owned by a religion. Can people run track or do gymnastics or do stretches and exercises and in their heart while they are doing it worship Hindu Gods? Sure they could. But I dont believe that Christians cant stretch or exercise because another religion uses it.
When you type in the definition of the word YOGA on google, it will tell you thats its a Hindu practice. Yoga is a spiritual practice just like fasting is a spiritual practice. One religion cant just own a spiritual practice for themselves. Just like Christianity cant say that fasting is Christian because Jesus fasted in the Bible and no other religion can use it because they would be “fasting for Jesus” if they did.
The Hindu religion was the first ones to claim yoga as part of their religion and put structure to it. But breathing and stretching existed before the Hindu religion existed and can be practiced without participating in Hindu religion.
The word YOGA means to yoke or union
Yoga isnt bad. But if your worshiping false Gods while doing yoga, then thats bad.
Yoga isnt the only thing that has Pagan or Hindu roots. Christmas and Easter both were originally Pagan Holidays before The church decided God could redeem these holidays. So we celebrate things like Jesus birth and resurrection on the same days instead.
Is Yoga A Sin
It is not the Catholic Church’s official position that practicing yoga could be viewed as a violation of faith and morals.
It is true that a great many holy priests and clergy members can express their views on this matter, but ultimately it lies with the individual to determine how yoga will affect them.
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Is Raja Yoga Religiously Neutral
Article ID: JAY001-2 | By: Elliot Miller
The problem with George Mahoneys position quoted above is his assumption that raja yoga can be used for Christian purposes just as effectively as for pantheistic Hindu or other Eastern mystical purposes. The Hindu understanding of God is fundamentally different than the Christian one, and yoga was developed to achieve oneness with the Hindu God-a God that is impersonal and does not engage in thoughts, conversation, or relationships but exists in a state of pure awareness. The Hindu concept of oneness with God is also radically different than the Christian one, since it involves mystically realizing that one is God. To achieve such union with this God one must achieve a state of pure awareness that excludes thoughts, conversations, and relationships. Yoga systematically achieves this by ultimately emptying the mind of thought, which leads to a loss of the subject-object distinction so that the meditator now feels one with the Universe, which in pantheism means one with God. The discipline of yoga was developed to enable the practitioner to realize Hindu beliefs experientially, and such experiences at times can be quite powerful and convincing .
The Idolatry Entanglement
Some professing Christians see no reason for concern, however, such as defrocked Catholic priest turned Episcopal priest Matthew Fox, as Yoga Journal reports:
The Occult Connection
Surprise! Raja Yoga Is Hinduism
Answering Some Of Your Questions
I received a lot of questions regarding yoga and most of them fell into two categories. I address those two types of questions below.
Can I Practice Holy Yoga?
Numerous people asked me if I thought it was okay to practice what is called Holy Yoga . The idea is that you take what is good from yoga while substituting the pagan aspects for Christian ones.
The simple answer to that question is no. I dont think Christians should incorporate any aspect of yoga into their daily life. For a more detailed response to this question check out the following links:
Is There a Good Alternative to Yoga?
Pilates is an excellent alternative to yoga. While yoga has its roots in a pagan religion, pilates was actually developed for physical training and rehabilitation. Be aware that some pilates instructors incorporate yoga and New Age practices into their pilates classes. As always, use discernment when taking a pilates class.
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Reasons Why Yoga Is Not Good For Christians
by Dr. Laurette Willis .
Would you agree that there are spiritual forces we cannot see?
You may be surprised to learn that yoga, which many think is just exercise, is actually a spiritual practice. Christians may think twice before starting a yoga practice please.
1. Yoga is Dedicated to a different lord . You can learn more about The Lord of Yoga HERE.
2. Yoga leads people away from Christ. Yoga means to yoke and it’s a different yoke than the one Jesus refers to For My yoke is easy and My burden is light .
3. Yoga poses are offerings to the 330 million Hindu gods . Acts 15:29 says to abstain from THINGS offered to idols. Learn more about Yoga poses, breathing and hand gestures HERE.
INSTEAD, PraiseMoves Postures focus on the Word of God we meditate upon or speak aloud while doing stretching, strengthening postures. The Foundation of PraiseMoves is the Word of God. The exercise is the witty invention to get you more into the Word of God, and MORE OF THE WORD OF GOD INTO YOU!
4. Yoga has a spiritual nature that is psychic and metaphysical. This is one reason why experts, such as Professor Subhas Tiwari of the Hindu University of America says, Yoga is Hinduism.
Professor Tiwari also said, Efforts to separate yoga from its spiritual center reveal ignorance of the goal of yoga. .
My Experience With Yoga
However, the lack of sweat wasnt the only thing I didn’t like about yoga. Something else struck me. Something in my spirit didnt sit right. During the meditation, with everyone else silent and eyes closed, uncontrollable laughter took over my body. I couldnt help it. It was like that compulsion to laugh at funerals. Needless to say, I felt awkward, but not embarrassed. I seemed to be more embarrassed for the other participants who didnt see the ridiculousness of it as I did.
I didnt think much of my experience until several years later. The same friend whom I had gone to yoga with was pregnant with her first baby. She told me this story of driving to a yoga class as she talked on the phone with another friend. In her phone conversation, her friend advised her not to go to the class. She explained to her the dangers of yoga and said to her, You dont want to bring an unsaved soul to a yoga class.
The validity of the theology behind her comment, as far as her unborn babys salvation, didnt concern me. But hearing her friends warning reminded me of my own skepticism about yoga. Without any biblical evidence, I decided yoga wasnt for me. Was my uncontrollable laughter years earlier God’s way of protecting me from a deep connection with it?
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What Does The Bible Say The Teachings Of Yoga And The Bible Are Antithetical
Listed below are some of the main teachings of the Yoga Sutras, the ancient doctrine of Yoga, believed to be dated around 2,000 years ago. They have been divided into five main points. The yogic teaching is listed first, then what the Bible has to say about it. Please note that the Bible is every bit as applicable to us today as it was when it was written. There are a vast number of Bible verses in direct opposition to the teachings of the Yoga Sutrasway too many to list in this comparative space . Please note the responses listed under Bible are not an exhaustive list of scriptures regarding each topic, but rather a sampling of verses as it pertains to the Yoga teaching.
Please also note that this teaching has been and IS the foundation of yoga. Many teachers have not been properly taught what they are teaching, and many are unfamiliar with the following truths about yoga. Their lack of education does not negate what is at the core and under the surface of the physical elements they teach.
*Please note all boldface font within scriptures has been added to point attention.
1. GodYOGA:The god of yoga is called Ishvara, and represented by OmYoga Sutras, 1.25: The god Ishvara is the source of all knowledge.
1.27: This god Ishvara is represented by the symbol and sound of Om.
BIBLE:The God of the Bible is the Lord. He is the Father, the Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in one being. He is the only God.
Leviticus 20:26: . . . Do not practice divination or sorcery.
Be Cautious Before Taking Action
With everything you do and engage with, make sure that you prayerfully consider what you are doing and if it glorifies God. Also, be objective and open-minded.
Prayerfully consider how are Christians executing and engaging with this activity or event. Ask yourself, Is what Im doing resembling the Lord? Am I inviting evil spirits by letting them into my life?
Be objective about everything. Whether theres a movie or television show that you watch, a song you sing, or a novel you like to read prayerfully consider how this is going to impact your life. Always be cautious and stand on guard.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
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Do Demon Possessions Still Happen
Yes, there is a possibility of demons to possess, oppress people, and to have some kind of influence over peoples lives. If you open the door and invite spirits into your life, you are welcoming them, and the spirits are going to come in and they are going to aspire to influence you.
These evil spirits have evil principalities that are always going to be seeking to influence you to do things that are sinful and not Christ-honoring, or they will do actions in your life that could potentially wreak havoc on you in the physical realm and your spiritual reality. These evil spirits will target you individually, they will aim for your own soul and spirit.
Can You Do Yoga Without The Spirituality
In yoga’s history, it is thought that it arose from spirituality. However, there is a physical yoga exercise that does not have spiritual components.
It is a very good way to reduce your weight in the long run.
Then you don’t need to worry about spirituality, you just need a good yoga instructor.
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Should Christians Engage In Yoga Exercises
Can believers willingly participate in yoga and gain ONLY the physical benefits, and remain neutral from the general tie-in to Eastern mysticism? What an interesting question! Thank you for asking. Let us first define yoga and then we can see if the Scriptures have any advice on the subject.
Firstly, according to Dictionary.com, the term yoga has three senses:
I assume your question is about definition number 2? For those unfamiliar with this topic, note that it has a pagan origin. Specifically, yoga is used in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism as means of physical and spiritual exercise. Not many Westerners who practice yoga know it, but it was originally a method to gain physical and spiritual health. If we participate in yoga, we must guard against its spiritual aspect. Let us explain this a bit further.
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Biblical Evidence Against Yoga
1. A Lesson from Daniel
Last year I studied the book of Daniel. This study gave me a framework around why yoga might not be right for me.
The book of Daniel tells the account of the Israelites from Judah’s captivity by the Babylonians. King Nebuchadnezzar chose Daniel, one of the youths from Judah, to live in his palace. For three years, King Nebuchadnezzar’s household taught Daniel literature and the language of the Chaldeans . He also gave Daniel a new, Chaldean name. Even though Daniel did not outwardly oppose the education or the name King Nebuchadnezzar gave him, in Daniel 1:8 we read, But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the kings food, or with the wine that he drank.
Why did Daniel resist the kings food? Commentaries suggest different reasons, but the most probable is that Daniel wanted to distinguish himself from the Babylonians and their false gods. Most likely, Daniel didnt have much say in his education or the name they called him, but refusing to eat and drink the kings food showed his reliance on God. It revealed his identity as Jewish and not Babylonian.
2. A Woman’s Testimony
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What Does Modern Yoga Look Like
Yoga, as it is practiced in the West today, certainly diverges from the yogic practices of ancient India. Yoga is a popular exercise that combines breathing, movement, and meditation. Imported to the United States from India over a century ago, yoga has long been praised for its physical and spiritual benefits.
Research shows yoga can help manage stress, ease depression and anxiety, improve mood, and enhance the quality of sleep. In addition, yoga has been shown to increase flexibility, improve balance and coordination, reduce pain, and increase strength. This adds to the modern-day support of yoga, as it is seen for its health benefits rather than its spiritual practices.
A View Into Worldviews
Second, I want to say that both yoga and tai chi have their roots in Eastern worldviews. Those roots are profoundly antithetical to a Christian understanding of God and the way he works in the world. So, yoga is to the body what mantra is to the mouth that is the way I would put it anyway. One explanation says that for the mantra, One has to chant a word or a phrase until he/she transcends mind and emotions. In the process the super consciousness is discovered and achieved. Note the use of word, in that mantra-like way, in order to move into the super consciousness. In other words, yoga exercises are a spillover from that kind of verbal repetition and philosophy of how one moves physically and emotionally and intellectually to this super consciousness.
So, yoga focuses on harmony between mind and body. Yoga derives its philosophy from an Indian metaphysical belief. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit language and means merger or union. The ultimate aim of that philosophy is to strike a balance between mind and body and attain a kind of self-enlightenment through the use of mantra and certain kinds of physical exercises or meditative stances. To achieve this state, yoga uses breath, posture, relaxation, and meditation in order to bring about a healthy, lively, balanced approach to life. That would be more or less the way they would say it in a lot of places on the web.
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Why Christians Should Pray And Research Yoga Before Practicing It
Since then, God has only further confirmed my decision, despite the fear of being legalistic. After all, it seems everyone practices and enjoys yoga. Doctors recommend it. Churches offer it. Even children learn it. However, as Christians, I think its wise to prayerfully discern, after adequate research, any practice that derives from other religions.
As a Church, we dont talk about it enough, but the Bible makes it clear that there is another world – a spirit world – that is at war with us. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places . Its important we dont give our enemy a foothold, but instead test everything hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil .