A Hindu tradition product, the Sanskrit for “yoke,” which means “attach,” is a meditative yoga discipline that emerged in India during the 2nd century BC. But the ritual is now already popular in Western routines for exercise and relaxation, which is mostly disconnected from its pagan origins. Most evangelicals contend that it is safe, and even beneficial, to practice yoga as a form of physical exercise. Others even go further, incorporating it into their periods of prayer and meditation. On the other hand, others believe that combining yoga and Christianity is a harmful gateway to spirituality and syncretic religion in the modern century. The emergence of yoga has caused evangelicals to investigate the significance of exercise and meditation more closely.
Yoga has gained increasing popularity among followers of many religious practices or people of no religion at all. Yoga is a series of physical and spiritual activities that originate in the religions of the East. Many people associate yoga with other modes of practice and are unaware of its association with spiritual practices that are not Christian. Its Eastern practitioners have seen yoga as a road to spiritual awakening or union, rooted primarily in Hinduism and Buddhism. The method of union with the divine, or more generally today, the union and unity of body, mind, and spirit, is Yoga, meaning “yoke.”
As expected, several types of yoga emerged, as the Eastern religions are so complex. A common form of yoga is Hatha yoga, which focuses on the psychophysical – the connection between the body’s movements and the spirit’s growth. Hatha yoga is oriented to breathing, concentrating, and keeping those physical postures under control. Oftentimes, particular body postures are connected to mantras or phrases which are repeated to help focus the mind. Hatha yoga’s psychological and physiological effects include reducing stress, increased concentration, muscle tone, flexibility, balance, and improved cardiovascular health.
Yoga and Christianity: Can the Two Go Together?
The tradition rooted in the East, but practicing yoga in the United States has mostly distanced itself from its spiritual origins. Indeed, as performed in this country, many yoga modifications have no meditative element and assert no spiritual benefits – it does not include any sort of mantras, spoken prayers, or affirmations anymore, keeping only the physical side of yoga. The health advantages are the primary aim of yoga for those who practice it and do not imply a willingness to replace Christianity for yoga or to integrate yoga and Christianity.
Though yoga is commonly practiced by Christians, at least in its predominantly non-religious form, many doubted that it is aligned with Christianity. The Church forbids nothing that is valid and holy in other religions. Still, non-Christian activities or their mixing with Christianity create difficulties, even subtle changes to an individual’s moral outlook, even though not intended.
While many find it to be safe for one’s religion, yoga must be thoroughly assessed because of its Eastern religious origins. A particular union process with the divine may seem to be implied, which could be learned if one performs the correct techniques. Salvation could be associated with a concept of personal-fulfillment or self-actualization, according to this interpretation. But yoga has no connection to redemption by Jesus Christ and the Church’s spiritual communion in stressing the self, thereby offering a mistaken belief of the road to spiritual union.
In addition, yoga, as a spiritual path, will make it seem that we bring about a relationship with the divine through our acts and merits, not God’s gift. And the positive physical interactions and effects of yoga can be wrongly associated with spiritual development, leading to some kind of body idolatry.
In yoga, the poses and stretches are structured to get one to a meditation place so that you can yolk or enter the spiritual realm. Yoga means to bring together. The religions of Hindu and Buddha understood this and introduced yoga into their rituals.
It trains the mind to listen from God whenever a Christian performs yoga. Ultimately, you are calm and not concerned about your problems. So, you should hear to the still, low tone voice of the Lord.
Most Christians believe that engaging in yoga can indirectly lead an individual to yoke, or unintentionally enter the spiritual realm and lead them to dark spiritual beings. But a church Pastor replied to this idea by stating that he does not believe that baptized Christians nurtured by God’s word are not vulnerable to dark powers.
God knows what our hearts are like. He is mindful of who we serve. It is not wrong or immoral to exercise a certain way, like yoga posturing since God judges what is in a person’s heart.
It is important to note that physical postures such as bowing and lying face down, and meditation were also related to the Jewish and Christian faiths. Until our time, doing yoga was not connected with Christianity. Christian meditation focuses profoundly on God and His Word, and Christian yoga focuses on this.
Not everybody agrees on whether yoga suits Christians. Some find the postures of yoga neutral; others claim they are, even involuntarily, an involvement in non-Christian prayer. For those who claim that yoga can be Christian, others have tried to incorporate yoga to its methods, postures, and mantras, offering openly Christian material and symbolism. For example, the rosary or other Catholic prayers are being used instead of reciting mantras.
If it is helpful to Christians, yoga practice testifies to two essential facets of physical and spiritual well-being: caring for our bodies, including exercise, and the ability to move closer to the divine. Yoga is partially popular today because it aims to address an increasingly prevalent trouble: the need for recollection, prayer, meditation, and to find peaceful rooms in our stressful schedules.
If the practice of yoga can be distinguished from its Eastern mystical origins, and is only used for physical purposes, it could be perceived as religiously neutral and helpful to one’s physical wellbeing. Thus, with this perspective in mind, yoga and Christianity can go hand in hand.