By Pastor Doug Graham
If you’re a strong Christian and you only do the exercise part of yoga I suspect it would be ok but my question is, why would you want to do yoga when it’s based upon, “a school of Hindu philosophy advocating and prescribing a course of physical and mental disciplines for attaining liberation from the material world and union of the self with the ultimate principle?”
A true definition of yoga shows that its based on idolatry and worldly thinking. It often involves a Hindu chant and emptying the mind. As Christians we are to fill our mind with the Word of God. If you want to exercise then ride a bike or jog. There are also plenty of stretching exercises you could do to be healthy; some of which may be “yoga like” stretching and postures. Weekly exercise, relying on Christ, and trusting in His Word seems to be a much better way for a Christian to deal with stress or anxiety than to do the spiritual part of yoga.
If you’re just stretching then don’t call it yoga. If you’re just doing the physical part of yoga to relieve chronic pain or to be more in shape, and you’re not doing the mental and worship part of yoga then my point is don’t call it yoga because it’s too confusing to many people. It can be a stumbling block for them. But if you are doing the spiritual part of yoga then don’t think you can separate that from the idolatrous ideas, practices, and movements its based upon.
As a Christian I’d rather not join with a false god (Brahma) or ideas steeped in idolatry in order to be whole. Even Hindus know that yoga is not a practice of Christianity. I’m not saying someone isn’t a Christian if they do yoga. I’m using Biblical discernment and I hope Christians would do the same.
The Word of God is sufficient to fill my heart and mind with peace and joy. As far as exercise, I personally play racquetball every week. It’s not only good exercise but I also benefit from the Christian fellowship of the men I play with. I also enjoy using my total gym. But my favorite form of exercise is taking a walk with my family.
For those suffering from chronic pain I would recommend this book: “Pain Free” by Pete Egoscue.
Psalm 1:1-2 says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”
As for me and my house we will fill our mind with the Word of God. I hope you will do the same.
Here’s a short video of John MacArthur and his view on Yoga: