Yoga and Christianity: The Four Defining Questions:
By Gail Burton Purath
1. Do you understand God's warnings against syncretism?
Syncretism is combining Christian beliefs with non-Christian beliefs, something which repeatedly led to the demise of the Israelites in the Old Testament. Is it a coincidence that yoga has grown in popularity as Christianity has declined?
Even when yoga is presented as non-religious or Christian, it mimics pagan rituals and ceremonies. It always claims to be a mind and body practice, never simply an exercise.
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.'"
2. If yoga is completely separate from paganism, why does it still bear a pagan name?
The word yoga means to join, yoke, or unite with the Universal Consciousness. Jesus is the only true God. The Universal Consciousness is a pagan deity. Jesus can never be in partnership with paganism. When people use the term "Christian yoga" they are using an oxymoron.
Many Christians meditate on Bible verses or pray while doing yoga, and that's certainly better than using the Hindu words and chants, but it's still a partnership of Christian truth and pagan rituals. We can find perfectly healthy and beneficial exercises that don't originate in pagan rituals.
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.”
Why is the pagan word namaste presented as nothing more than an Indian greeting, when it actually represents the idea that we are all part of the "divine consciousness." How many Christians realize that when they say namaste to another person, they are saying "the divine nature in me bows to the divine nature in you"? Why isn't this clearly explained in yoga classes?
For more specifics, see this Hindu site: chopra.com/articles/learn-the-meaning-of-namaste
3. Is yoga a good witness for Christians?
Suppose it’s possible for a Christian to do yoga without compromising their faith by carefully and knowledgeably omitting the Hindu emphasis. Might it still damage your witness? Might it encourage non-Christian friends or weaker Christians to get involved in the pagan aspects of yoga?
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, needful or necessary."
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."
I also encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 8
which talks about doing things associated with pagan rituals and how this can negatively affect fellow believers.
4. Are you comfortable doing something that many solid Bible teachers warn against?
If the majority of experienced doctors warned against a medicine because of its side effects, would you look for a less experienced doctor to prescribe it? You can always find someone who disagrees with the majority, but is that wise? Please read Piper, Mohler, and others on Yoga to hear the warnings of several respected Bible teachers.
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."