Questions Christians Should Ask Before Doing Yoga

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6 Questions Christians Should Ask Before Doing Yoga

“Thanks to ingenious marketing, yoga is no longer weird, foreign, and seemingly cult-like here in the West…the teachings of yoga will be expressed through semantics that can easily be absorbed by our secular filter...America has chosen to dilute, reinterpret, and turn a blind eye to what yoga actually is...”  ~ Jill Lawson, certified Yoga instructor (source)

If you are considering yoga or already doing yoga, I pray that you will read through these questions and Scriptures and ask God for wisdom. If you finish and still feel comfortable doing yoga, that’s your choice. I just pray you will not get involved with yoga until you have read the cautions in this article and other linked resources. Thanks!

1. Is an exercise program with a pagan origin the best choice for Christians?
Yoga bears a pagan name still used by Hindus today and it means to join, yoke, or unite with the Universal Consciousnesses, a pagan concept.  In fact, yoga is still a vital part of current Hindu and Buddhist worship. 
Even when it's presented as non-religious or Christian yoga, it mimics pagan rituals and ceremonies and still claims to be a mind and body practice, never simply an exercise.
 1 Corinthians 10:23"I have the right to do anything," you say--but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything"--but not everything is constructive.

2. Do you understand the spiritual dangers of syncretism?

Syncretism is combining Christian beliefs with non-Christian beliefs. God stresses the importance of separating ourselves from pagan, occult, and ungodly influences in both Old and New Testament.

6 Questions Christians Should Ask Before Doing Yoga

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.” 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.'"

Psalm 44:20-21: "If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart?"
3. If you are doing yoga, have you carefully researched its origins and meanings?
Christians are responsible to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23), and we do this through knowledge of the Bible and knowledge of the influences in our lives. If you have not carefully researched yoga, you may be involved in pagan aspects unknowingly.

1 Corinthians 10:31: "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
Even though many Christians are involved in Yoga, very few have carefully examined the practice biblically.

Yoga is not “just exercise.” Even in its most secular forms, it involves meditative techniques and methods which originate in Hinduism.

Yoga is defined as "a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation."

Many Christians meditate on Bible verses or pray while doing yoga, and that's certainly better than using the Hindu words and chants, but they are still mimicking Hindu rituals. Would you choose to read your Bible in a Hindu temple surrounded by pagan symbols when you could read it in a Christian setting?

1 Corinthians 10:14-22: "Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.  I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.  Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?  Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf."
"Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar?  Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.  Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?"

6 Questions Christians Should Ask Before Doing Yoga
4. If your exercise program has no links to paganism, why does it have a pagan name?

The word yoga means to join, yoke, or unite with the Universal Consciousnesses. Can there really be something called Christian yoga? Jesus would never yoke Himself or share His influence with even the slightest pagan concept. There's no biblical explanation for this partnership or this name.  

In addition, many "secular" yoga classes incorporate religious words and practices unknowingly or purposely. 
One example is the use of the word Namaste. It may be presented as nothing more than an Indian greeting, but it represents the idea that we are all part of the "divine consciousness." When you say it to another person, you are saying "the divine nature in me bows to the divine nature in you." For more specifics, see this Hindu site: Namaste.
5. Will weaker Christians or non-Christians get involved in the pagan forms of yoga due to your witness (i.e. your involvement)?
While I don't believe yoga can be completely sterilized of its pagan influence; let's suppose, for the purposes of this question, that it can be.

It's still vitally important that Christians doing yoga explain they are not Hindus and are not involved in the pagan aspects of yoga. If a Christian doesn't explain this difference to friends, family, and acquaintances (especially non-beleivers), they may encourage others, by their example, to get involved in Hinduism. 
We don’t need to explain that we do Christian or non-religious calisthenics, hiking, or skiing because those things don't have pagan origins. They are simply exercises. But yoga does have a pagan origin and name and it's widely practiced by Hindus. 

Suppose another weaker Christian starts yoga based on your example, but they’re not as careful about avoiding the Hindu practices. Suppose a non-Christian friend follows your example and also gets involved in Hinduism and is no longer interested in pursuing Christianity.

When yoga is taught in schools, it's not likely that a child will be mature enough to understand and avoid pagan aspects.

Romans 14:21-22: "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."

The following excerpt from 1 Corinthians 8 talks about doing things associated with pagan rituals. Even if you believe yoga is a completely non-religious form of exercise, the principle in this passage would apply. I encourage you to read it the whole chapter (linked above).

"For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall."

6. Are you comfortable doing something that many solid Bible teachers warn against?

Did you know that the majority of solid Bible teachers think you should avoid yoga? It can't be justified biblically.

Please read the first link below where respected Bible teachers share their concerns about yoga.

Our spiritual health is far more important than our physical health. Exercising spiritual wisdom is more important than any physical exercise. 

1 Timothy 4:8: "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."
Whatever you decide, I pray that you will do so with full knowledge of the possible consequences. If you have doubts, why not give up yoga for a season and ask God for clarity about whether you should continue. 

Even though many Christians are involved in Yoga, very few have carefully examined the practice biblically.


  1. Yoga is just an exercise to relax the muscles. Christmas trees are from Pagan origin as well.

  2. Yoga is just an exercise to strengthen the muscles and relax breathing. Christmas trees are from pagan origins too.

    1. Here is the dictionary definition of "Yoga":
      a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation.

      If you think Christmas trees have pagan origins and you think yoga doesn't, then you are uninformed.

      Whatever pagan origins may have been attached to Christmas trees (and I have only found hearsay claiming such origins), they are no longer part of the definition of either "Christmas" or "tree." However, yoga originated in Hinduism and has always been associated with Hinduism.

  3. I practice hot yoga. It strengthens, stretches, relaxes, aids in digestion, etc. and God is with me every session. At first I was concerned, but it is God who is with me. He has not abandoned me in my free will choice of hot yoga. I have been to other yoga classes that are not for me but to say all yoga has to be paganistic... I believe is incorrect.

  4. Hi Gail. I agree that if there is anything that can, even if slightly, negatively impact my testimony I will avoid it. My only concern is, the part about the part of demon possession because of yoga? Are you referring to Christians? If so, there is something wrong here because Christians can't be possessed by demons. Surely the evil one can harm us if we open doors but possession or obsession is not an option. Would love to hear your comment.

    1. Hi Hadi Youssef,

      That's a valid question.
      I've actually struggled with whether to include that testimony.

      While I don't think Scripture is perfectly clear about demon-possession, I've always been taught that a Christian can be oppressed by Satan but not possessed.

      The only Scripture I'm aware of that sheds some light on it is 2 Timothy 2:25-26 that talks of people who are taken captive to do the devil's will, and from what I read in commentaries this could be addressing Christians who've gotten caught up in error.

      But what does it mean to be taken captive?

      I felt this woman's testimony might be especially helpful since she felt these attacks even though she had "cleaned up" and "Christianized" her practice of yoga, but maybe it's best for me to omit it from the post due to the questions it raises.

      Several folks besides you have raised that question.
      I've decided to remove the testimony. Thanks.

  5. Physical fitness and health
    Health is not only given by reaching a good physical condition, but it is complemented by a mental and emotional balance, according to the World Health Organization. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar agrees that health is not the mere absence of disease, but the dynamic expression of life. This is where the benefits of yoga essentially lie, by performing asanas, pranayamas (breathing techniques) and meditation.

    1. Thank you for pointing out that the focus of yoga is not merely a physical exercise but something that involves the mind as it conforms to Hindu techniques. This is why I have written these articles.

      Christians should steer clear of anything that is pagan and involves their minds.

  6. Keep up the good work sister Gail. Blessings to you and your families. Love Always

  7. Thank u for being brave enough to cover this topic Gail.