The Christian View of Yoga
Yoga is the physical, mental, and spiritual practices which originated in ancient India to attain spiritual growth and enlightenment. It is part of Hindu spiritualism.
One definition states, “Yoga is a method of spiritual training whose purpose is to integrate or unite the self. A physical exercise, its goal is nonphysical-uniting with God. Yoga teaches that people should attempt to yoke the individual spirit to God, to atman-the individual soul or essence of a person-and to Brahman.” Kenneth Shouler, Ph.D. and Susai Anthony, The Everything Hinduism Book, F&W Media, Inc.; Avon, MA; 2009; page 10.
The word yoga simply means “union,” and the goal is to unite one’s transitory (temporary) self with the infinite Brahman, the Hindu concept of “God.” Brahman is an impersonal spiritual substance that is one with nature and the cosmos. This belief is called “pantheism,” the teaching that everything is God. Because everything is God, the yoga philosophy makes no distinction between man and God.
Yoga encourages its participants to find the answers to life’s questions within their own consciousness instead from God, the Creator. There are different types of yoga, but what they all have in common is they present a way to earn salvation through focus on self and works.
According to Hindu tradition, the aim of meditation or dhyana is to become consciously aware of one’s own mind and body to gain a better understanding of oneself. The yoga practices include: meditation, repeating the divine name, breathing exercises, performing acrobatic exercises and trying to put one’s own body in difficult postures. But meditation is central to all forms of Yoga.
Yoga is more than just a physical exercise. Its mediation helps its practitioners to be released from the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. It is a technique not just for resting the mind but also to attain an alternate state of consciousness or allow the mind to become silent. Thus, leaving the mind open to demonic powers.
This kind of meditation is contrary to the teachings of the Bible. Christians are taught to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), pray in the Spirit at all times (Ephesians 6:18), and mediate on the Law of God day and night (Psalm 1:2) in order to overcome evil (1 Peter 5:8).
The Bible teaches us to find the answers to life and salvation from God’s Word. “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
The Lord calls His children to not be involved in worldly practices, “I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1, 2).
The Christian can’t separate the physical aspect of Yoga from the its spiritual goal. He should not practice yoga since the goal of yoga is to attain salvation through a tie with a pagan deity (1 Thessalonians 5:32; Deuteronomy 18:9). He should not be practicing any meditation that deals with energy balancing, focused energy movement, chakras, etc.
The Bible says, “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). There are many other alternative wholesome physical activities that can prove to be a great help for both body and mind.
In His service,