What is the Christian view of yoga?

yogaHello H,

Thank you for contacting BibleAsk.

Yoga is the physical, mental, and spiritual practices which originated in ancient India to attain spiritual growth and enlightenment. “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 originated with a clear anti-Christian philosophy, and that philosophy has not changed. It teaches one to focus on oneself instead of on the one true God. Yoga is taught within all sects of Hinduism, in which it is taught as a means to have salvation.  It encourages its participants to seek the answers to life’s questions within their own consciousness instead of in the Word of God.

There are different types of yoga, but what they all have in common is they are a way to earn salvation. 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.

The Bible never teaches us to “free our mind” as taught in Yoga meditation exercises. Rather, Christians are to meditate on God and His Word “Finally, brethren, 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). Whatever we do should be done for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Paul said,  “Therefore 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).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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