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Posted by Sumair Mirza in Christian Living, Reflections

Christian Yoga = oxymoron

“The Outstretched philosophy is simple: we believe God will bless our sincere efforts at deepening a relationship with Him. He wants our fellowship and appreciates creative approaches to seeking His face. This is why Outstretched is dedicated to a Christ-centered pursuit of physical healing and spiritual growth through a practice of yoga.

This Christian approach to yoga simply allows us to combine these two essential goals: becoming physically healthy and spiritually healthy. We become more spiritually healthy through the yoga practice by calming our minds and quieting ourselves to the point that we can tune out the world’s frequency and tune into God’s frequency.”

The above text is a direct quote (emphasis added) from the first Christian yoga site that appears when I use Google to search “Christian Yoga”. As you read it, how do you feel? Apathetic? Troubled? Dismayed? Frustrated?

My reaction occurred in rapid fire succession as I read the aforementioned text:

  • “Sincere efforts” – sounds like the post-modern emphasis of sincerity being a supreme virtue above God’s objective Truth, doesn’t it?
  • “Creative approaches” – does this really work on Christians out there? Has God called us in accordance with Scripture to utilize creative approaches to seek Him or has He already delivered how we can accomplish this?
  • “Christ-centred” – Seriously? Is this really Christ centred? Isn’t it as self-centred as Hinduism and Buddhism gets? Isn’t it about the “god” in ourselves? (notice the quote located on the book above). It also reminds me of a bumper sticker I once saw expounding Hinduism’s self-deifying precepts: “May the Divine in Me bless the Divine in You.”

Perhaps you feel I am arguing semantics and you fall into the category of “Christian” that agrees with this quote from Christian Yoga Magazine: “So, the bottom line is this: If you’ve been thinking about trying out yoga but are concerned about the alleged “spiritual dangers,” forget about it. The people who prattle on about that have rarely stepped inside a yoga studio in their lives. What you’ll find is probably people exactly like yourself — stiff, overworked, semi-arthritic, stressed-out modern men and women — who are trying to ease the kinks out of their tired bodies and souls. And that is a good thing. Namaste!”

“Alleged ‘spiritual dangers,’ forget about it.” – since when was that the command? What is the rationale to just move past the heritage of Yoga and its pluralistic origins founded in Hinduism and carried on in the self-focused Buddhism? What about the real and present danger of emptying mind and interfacing with the evil entities of the spiritual realm?

Ironically, I am afforded the luxury of even being able to appeal to the Hindu American Foundation to make clear that Christianity and Yoga are NOT compatible –It is a sad irony that some churches seek to exploit Hindu pluralism, and its gift of yoga, to increase their own legion of churchgoers.” Sad indeed! Irony indeed! Disgraceful that a Hindu organization calls this out while some Christians remain blissfully ignorant!

Curious to learn more? Perhaps you will find this link a good read (Thanks Neil for sending it my way).

Other suggested resources:

This is me sharing about what is running through my mind…

  • I’ve *been* waiting for this. Much appreciated. Will share dude.

  • yvonne

    me too! finally some light shone =)

  • Andrew

    So what does this mean in terms of Christians doing yoga? Like–is it a sin to do yoga? Because you emphasize the disjunction between the two, however, you don’t get to any bottom line. Wait, is there one?

  • Hi Andrew,

    Thank you for visiting TiS. To answer your question, yes performing yoga would be a sin. Sin is the breaking of God’s law (1 John 3:4) and as such following a system that proposes to find its source in a “god” within and presents a self-focused front is in direct contradiction to the Christian worldview which is of course found in the Bible. Clearly the purpose of yoga is not merely physical exercise and both its philosophical and spiritual stances are in direct contrast with the one true God.

    I would suggest you read the link that I reference at the bottom of my post and for further reading perhaps the “other suggested resources”. For your convenience, below I have included an extract from one of these links to also give you an idea of a concise well put concluding view:

    “Yoga originated with a blatantly anti-Christian philosophy, and that philosophy has not changed. It teaches one to focus on oneself instead of on the one true God. It encourages its participants to seek the answers to life’s difficult questions within their own conscience instead of in the Word of God. It also leaves one open to deception from God’s enemy, who searches for victims that he can turn away from God (1 Peter 5:8).”

    I hope this answers your question.

    God Bless,
    – Sumair