Are You Willing to Examine Yoga Objectively?

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Why Yoga and Christianity have opposite foundations and results.

My goal is not to question anyone's faith or offend those doing yoga. My desire is to make Christians aware of concerns regarding the practice of yoga. I welcome comments and even disagreement, but please read the guidelines for comments at the bottom. Thanks!

Demon Possessed
In the 1980’s I was the program chairman for a large Christian women’s group for military wives. 

One of our speakers was a woman who had become demon possessed through practicing yoga. 

She had no interest in pagan or occult practices. She was simply doing something she thought was exercise.

She ended up in a mental ward and only recovered because a nurse shared Christ with her and prayed for her release from yoga demons.

This speaker warned Christians not to get involved with yoga on any level. She said it couldn’t be Christianized. 

The Growing Popularity of Yoga
No one argued with her in the 1980’s, but today it’s a different story.

From 2012 to 2016, the number of Americans doing yoga doubled from approximately 20 million to 40 million (source). 

Many YMCAs, community centers, churches, and grade schools now offer yoga classes. 

Syncretism
While many of these classes claim to remove the Hindu elements, and some claim they are Christian, even the most sterile versions incorporate aspects of yoga’s meditation techniques. 

This syncretism - the combining of different religions - is not a healthy practice.

It's Not the Same as Christmas Trees
Why Yoga and Christianity have opposite foundations and results.

Some folks are troubled by the use of Christmas trees because people once worshiped trees. I don’t share their concerns because tree worship is not a modern religion, nothing about our current use of Christmas trees mimics rituals or ceremonies of past or current tree worship, and I don’t know a single person who worships their Christmas tree. If it bothers a Christian to have one, they shouldn't, but it's not syncretism.

In comparison:

1. Yoga bears a pagan name still used by Hindus today.

2. The word yoga means to join, yoke, or unite with the Universal Consciousnesses, a pagan concept.  

2. Yoga is still a vital part of current Hindu and Buddhist worship. 

3. Even the most "sterile" versions of yoga mimic the rituals and ceremonies of pagan origin. 

4. Yoga is always described as both a mind and body experience, never simply an exercise.

What's in a Name?
“Christian yoga” is an oxymoron. That’s like saying Christian Hinduism. 

Does it honor God to use an exercise program with a pagan name and pagan origins? I hope you will consider the Scriptures in the Bible study below before answering that question.

Another Sad Statistic
I warned one of my loved ones year ago about the dangers of yoga, but when it became popular with some of her friends, she told me it wouldn't affect her faith because she wasn't doing "Hindu yoga." It was simply stretching exercises. She even misused some Scriptures to defend it. 
 
I was concerned with her decision but unprepared for the drastic changes in her. Over the course of several years after starting yoga, she quit attending church, embraced ex-vangelical beliefs, and became critical of former Christian friends. While I don't think yoga was the only negative influence in her life, I believe it was a major one.
 
Does this happen to everyone involved in yoga? No. I think the serious nature of her involvement came partly because she had been repeatedly warned about the possible dangers of yoga (Luke 12:42-48). But I believe practicing yoga has some affect on everyone, and no exercise program is worth forfeiting even the slightest bit of discernment, ministry opportunities, or Christian maturity.

We are Not Merely Physical Beings
Perhaps yoga has physical benefits, but we are not merely physical beings. We are spiritual beings as well.

Because our bodies are temples of God's Holy Spirit everything we do with our bodies should glorify God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

"For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." 1 Timothy 4:8

Let’s exercise our spiritual discernment and choose activities that honor and bless the God of the Bible, first, last, and forever.

Maybe you think I'm all wrong, but can you be sure? Is it worth risking the quality of your faith for an exercise program?

What if your involvement in yoga influences someone with less discernment to get involved in Hindu practices of yoga? Is it worth taking that risk? 

Perhaps you feel your faith is stronger than ever since you've been doing yoga. However, if yoga has affected your faith, it's doubtful that you'd recognize the changes.

Is any exercise program worth these risks?

Why is Yoga So Incredibly Popular?
Let's be aware that Satan is still very much our enemy, dear Christians, and he is called an angel of light because he makes evil attractive. 

Yoga is one of the most popular forms of exercise in the world (source). Many of its followers believe it is the only exercise that keeps them healthy physically and mentally. 

Could the popularity of yoga be demonic? It's so important that we stand firm (1 Corinthians 10:12; 2 Corinthians 11:3). 

Whether you are currently doing yoga or just curious about it, I encourage you to do the Bible study below this devotion. Don't let your enjoyment of an exercise keep you from exploring the concerns with an open mind. Thanks!


Why Yoga and Christianity have opposite foundations and results.

 Bible Study
Exploring Excuses for Doing Yoga

1. Let's start with the most common Scriptural excuse.
It goes something like this: "Romans 14 says we shouldn't tell other Christians something they are doing is wrong if it isn't specifically mentioned in Scripture."

This excuse flips Romans 14 upside down. Romans 14 warns against doing anything that might cause your brother or sister with weaker faith to do something against their conscience. It doesn't prevent Christians from raising concerns.

And, most importantly, the burden in Romans 14 is put on the person who approves things, not the person who disapproves them: 

"It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves." (verses 21-22)

This article explains how doing yoga can affect the faith of others even if it doesn't affect our own: Questions Christians Should Ask Before Doing Yoga.

2. Another argument people use for practicing yoga is that it's "just an exercise and no exercise in and of itself is pagan."  

While we are no longer under Old Testament laws, there are principles in some of these laws that are pertinent to us today. For example:


Could This Pagan Influence Be Affecting Your Faith?
Deuteronomy 12:1-3:  These are the decrees and laws you must be careful to follow in the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given you to possess—as long as you live in the land. Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains, on the hills and under every spreading tree, where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods. Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places.

These pagan gods were made of wood and stone. There is nothing wrong with the wood and stone found in these altars, nor is there anything wrong with altars. But God didn't want these stones, poles, and altars (designed for pagan worship) to be used to worship Him. In addition, God wanted them destroyed. What they represented was offensive to God, even their pagan names were offensive to God.

3. A third argument for practicing yoga is that Christians can chant Scriptures instead of the traditional yoga chants.

Deuteronomy 12:4: You must not worship the Lord your God in their way.

If you follow yoga meditation techniques and replace the Hindu words with Scripture verses, aren't you still worshiping the Lord "in their way"?

This command is repeated a few verses later:
Deuteronomy 12:29-32: The Lord your God will cut off before you the nations you are about to invade and dispossess. But when you have driven them out and settled in their land, and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.” You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods. See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.

I doubt any Israelite began exploring pagan religions in order to sacrifice his son or daughter to a pagan god. But that exact thing happened in Israel’s history. And I doubt any Christian begins practicing yoga in order to hinder their prayer life or compromise their Christianity. But that doesn't assure that it won't happen.

For additional warnings:
Deuteronomy 18:9-13


Why Yoga and Christianity have opposite foundations and results.
4. Another argument to do yoga is that we are not living in Old Testament times so none of the above prohibitions pertain to us.
However, these warnings are also found in the New Testament.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18: Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17 Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.  Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

Read warnings from well-known Christians:
Piper, Mohler, and Others on Yoga

Some non-spiritual cautions:
Certain yoga poses can damage the eyes
4 Dangerous Yoga Poses
How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body

Guidelines for Comments:

When I raised concerns about the book The Shack, many professing Christians responded with angry comments and emails. If questioning a man-written book or an exercise program like yoga leads you to write rude comments, it's very likely that you’ve lost your discernment and objectivity.

Disagreement is healthy when done according to Scriptural guidelines (Matthew 5:22; Luke 6:45; Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 4:6). 

Whichever side you are on in this discussion (even if you agree with this post), I hope you will use gracious speech when expressing your opinion. Stick to why you support your view, especially in regard to Scripture, and don’t make personal attacks against people who hold other views. Thanks! More helpful articles can be found here: Examining Yoga Biblically.

31 comments:

  1. Thank you for caring enough for Gods Children to warn them of what appears innocent, and actually pulling them out of bondage.

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  2. I second Kayla's comment, Gail! There are plenty of other wholesome means of keeping our bodies fit that will honour our Lord God! Thanks for having the courage to speak out on such controversial subjects with such grace and love!

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  3. I have believed this for 40 years. Even so, my daughter has strayed and now I see my grandson on Instagram verbally exalting his Sun pose. I covet your prayers.

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    1. I'm sorry, Kim. I pray that your grandsons will come to understand the truth.

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  4. Thank you for speaking truth. We are definitely in a Bible drought and it takes Courage for someone to speak out against something so popular. It’s like a tidal wave has hit the church and this is one of the waves.

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  5. Wow, I had no idea - thank you for insight.

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  6. Wow, I had no idea, thank you for your insight!

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  7. I agree with you. I was raised that Yoga was not an OK practice. My mom always told me that it was a sin and not honoring God. My daughters are now having to do it in PE and for a workout for their High School soccer team. I appreciate this email as I can now share it with them and help them better understand what I was raised to believe.

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  8. Yes, I completely agree. We need to be very careful. There are many things that can be harmful, though they may look harmless.
    I couldn't find a search bar on your blog, so I don't know if you've written an article about the Jesus Calling and/or older book, God Calling. Someone gave me Jesus Calling as a gift, and I bought God Calling because it was recommended as a good book. I have read little bits of them, but feel uncomfortable with them written in the first person. Some information I have read said they are New Age, and should be avoided. I would like to know your thoughts. I want to be discerning, but not critical of everything either. I enjoy your devotions and value your opinion. God bless you.

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    1. Hi Melanie,
      I also have concerns with the book, and I've read some good articles on it. It might be a good idea for me to write something on it. Until then, you might want to check out Tim Challies' article called "10 Serious Problems with Jesus Calling." Comments don't allow links, but you can copy this url: https://www.challies.com/articles/10-serious-problems-with-jesus-calling/

      I hope it's helpful.

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  9. Thanks a lot for the eye opening more so to those who do not know. When you make your mind empty is the same as removing even the holy spirit from you and once He is not in the vacuum is filled by the evil spirit. We should always be examining ourselves whether we are still in the faith. ( 2nd Corinthians 13:5) The word is the one that will judge us on the last day and as a result it should be our measure.

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  10. Gail, Thank you so much for this eye opening article. I have always been wary of yoga but have been sliding more toward just a daily yoga routine to tighten and tone my body. I am struggling desperately to maintain some physical strength as I am dealing with a chronic fatigue, yet undiagnosed, that is really changing my life. It can be quite discouraging and I was thinking maybe just this series of "poses" to help me hopefully improve my strength - however, you have helped me to see that I must find something else because I do want to honor our wonderful Lord above all else. Thanks so much! Dell

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    1. I've been where you are....I was diagnosed with Chronic fatigue in my 30's and had some very hard years. I know the frustration and the desire to try anything to see some improvement. For me it has come with rest, vitamins, right eating, dealing with yeast in my system, and time. I pray you will also fine relief.

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    2. That's soooo wonderful that you want to honour the Lord! Say, I have Lyme disease, and my greatest symptom besides joint pain is chronic fatigue. Most of the tests are lousy, but it would be worth a try to test for it and see if it comes back positive or not. Even if it's negative, you could have it. If you have joint pain and other revolving issues, that might be your issue. Look up on the Lyme Disease awareness sites for symptoms.

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  11. I was trying to suggest that we warn a mostly "Christian" mother's group about the connections with the occult that the Pokemon cards have (Wizards.com). The leader, as it was, also was allowing her small children to play with them. Her son walked up and handed her a card while we were talking nearby in a private area, and she tapped her finger firmly on the card and said something to the effect: "idols are nothing" "this is just a piece of paper, it has no power." I didn't know of any instances of testimonies at the time, as more than likely, how someone became "possessed" by demons (because they are depicting "monsters" with powers), but I thought I'd observed a youth in the group that was obsessed with them. So many things you said, would have been helpful in rebuttal. She was a woman of strong faith and convictions (head coverings, I think, and dresses, no pants) but there seemed to be no fear of what evil spirits could do because she was "protected by the Holy Spirit" and she had prayed about it and got no word against it. Never the less, we are entrenched with pagan practices. We do and participate with practically everything our culture around us has to offer. We do it without thinking about, "would our Heavenly Father be pleased?" Do we bother to check things out before we buy things or bring things into our home? I was amazed that Pokemon cards became popular after it had been sold to the Game company called "Wizards of the Coasts" (makers of Dungeons and Dragons and The Gathering which is kinda on the order of Ouija Board). It was bought back by Nintendo again. With such connections, you'd think that would have scared the mother off, but no! She seems to think that nothing can hurt her family because they are under the protection of the Holy Spirit. There is such things as grieving the Holy Spirit. Sigh ... We need to pray that the blanket of deception is lifted from the eyes of our brothers and sisters so that they can see. I know; I was under that blanket for decades! Thank you so much for this well put together subject, though, I do believe we have been worshiping "under every green tree", so I got rid of my "Nativity" Trees, including the garlands and gold and silver balls. ;)

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  12. This is a neat post. I have voiced to my sisters in Christ that I didn't want to participate in Yoga, because I'm spiritually convicted not to. That doesn't usually go over well - but it's my inability to tie scripture into my response. Thank you for this devo.

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  13. I totally agree with everything you have shared. Unfortunately several of my Christian friends participate in yoga, goat yoga to be exact. A few years ago a neighborhood mom tried to teach yoga in our elementary school. A lot of the Christian moms stood up and didn't allow it. Now she is back and somehow is attacking me personally. So many spiritually blinded people are being dragged down this dark path. I am not sure how to tactfully express my belief in this.

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    1. I wish I knew the answer to your question, Kerry.

      In the last few years, I've expressed my concerns with three different friends. Two of them ignored my concerns, but one listened and stopped doing an exercise program that included some yoga.

      I often start by explaining my experience in this article about the woman who became demon-possessed and tell people that I feel God was warning me before yoga even became popular.

      Sometimes it helps to refer them to the Christian authors and speakers who I reference in the link above titled:
      "Piper, Mohler, MacArthur on Yoga"

      But, to be honest, I believe some Christians will refuse to listen. At the very least, I believe it affects their discernment, but I think it can do far more damage to their relationship with the Lord than that.

      I pray that God will give you wisdom in sharing your concerns and I pray that these women will be convicted that it's not the best form of exercise for them.

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  14. I want to add this note: a person who identified herself/himself as "Dove" left comments on several posts on my blog. I could not publish those comments because they were crude, with profanity, anger, and name-calling. They were aimed at me because I spoke against yoga. I find it extremely interesting that a practice that is supposed to make someone calm and peaceful gave this person such an evil attitude toward those who disagree.

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  15. I agree with your insight into Yoga. I am thankful that although I tried it, it never seemed right to me and the word Namaste tasted sour in my mouth. I tried to say Glory to God in its place but that was improper as mentioned in one of your enclosed references.
    Thank You God for delivering me from Yoga.
    I repent of the times I did some if the exercises and thankful that Your Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and mind that it was night right.
    I pray they you rescue my Niece who does yoga and pray that no one else in my family takes it up!
    I stand in the gap and say for them, " Yoga is not for me or my household."
    I bind satan from influencing any of my family and friends to do yoga. I loose them from any effect Yoga has had on their lives.
    Jesus protect them.
    Glory to God!
    Marilynn

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    1. Dear Marilyn,

      I always appreciate your honesty and determination to respond to God's Word.

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  16. Thank you for this info ,l almost started doing yoga at home,during lockdown period,just to learn to be still while praying,l did not last 3mins ,l couldn't do it and l heard no idea that they use certain words for yoga,am glad to have come cross this site today,thank you very much.

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  17. I was actually looking for a yoga class to join then I saw this post. I’m glad I came across this site on Pinterest.
    Thank you

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    1. That makes writing it worthwhile! Thanks for telling me.
      God bless you.

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  18. My Father that was a Pastor always said, "an empty mind is the devil office." Yoga desires a empty mind and there is the entry point for the devil.

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  19. I didn’t read one scriptural thing that said in any way that yoga was wrong. Meditation and yoga is so good for the mind and body. Jesus often went away alone to meditate. The Holy Spirit speaks. Ask and listen

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    1. I am deeply saddened that anyone would dare to compare my Lord's prayer times to a pagan exercise program that originates in the satanic religion of Hinduism.

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  20. I have never liked yoga in the first place, to me it's just a boring exercise. But I also didn't know it was evil thank you for sharing so much information about it I am learning so much from your posts. Blessings to you.

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  21. Thank you for speaking out against yoga. Have you heard of "PraiseMoves", developed by Laurette Willis? Because she and so many Christians enjoy the stretching that yoga provides, doctors and physiotherapists suggest yoga as a form of rehabilitation, she was looking for an alternative to yoga and after prayer and consideration developed PraiseMoves, the Christina ALTERNATIVE to yoga. (www.praisemoves.com) I have been certified in this as the goal is to "kick yoga out of the church" and love the spoken Scripture that is assigned and meditated on with every posture. These classes have helped me grow as a Christ follower as I study and prepare for the classes. I respect and value your opinion and would appreciate your thoughts. Thank you

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    1. I haven't heard of PraiseMoves, but it sounds like a great idea!!

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  22. Gail, this is an Excellent eye-opener. It gives us the tools we need to help others SEE. BLESSINGS

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