Should Christians Practice Yoga?

This post is adapted from an article that originally appeared in our ladies publication, The Way of Holiness , February 2011, by Jackie Thorpe (Edited by Pastor Hammond). 


In recent decades, the world has seen vast progress toward it's goal of unifying and globizing much of our modern institutions.  We now have a world bank and international courts.  And we have a pan-european parliament.  So it comes as little surprise to see a movement that seeks to unify the world's faiths into a single worldwide church.   And, indeed, throughout much of the 20th century, the so-called Ecumenical Movement made much progress in it's effort to unify Christianity across the globe.  This effort has encouraged nominal Christians of various backgrounds to globalize their faith by minimizing their doctrinal distinctives.  


In a clear allusion to the one-world religious system of the coming Tribulation Period, the Ecumenical Movement has broadened to include many of the world's false faiths.  Today, many in the Ecumenical movement seek to encourage acceptance of the practices of false religious systems by "Christianizing" those practices.  And, there's little doubt that this has included efforts to encourage Christians to accept Yoga - a religious practice that Hindus claim is virtually inseparable from their faith.

Haven't we seen this sort of thing before?   


For centuries, The Roman Empire, was held together through Caesar worship.  The Roman one world government required a one world religion.  However, in 315 AD, the Roman Emperor, Constantine,  prayed for victory in the name of Jesus during a particularly difficult battle of war. So grateful was he to the Christian god for his victory that day, that he made the Imperial decision that all the Roman Empire must become Christian.    


Though the Roman Empire had worshiped the ruling Caesars as gods, they also worshipped lesser gods, which have become known down through the generations as the mythical gods of Rome.  In order to  make Christianity palatable to the empire, Emperor Constantine Christianized all Roman temples, statues, symbols, holidays and rituals. The pagan temples were now called churches, statues of male gods were now dubbed Peter or Paul, the wheel of life symbol eventually represented the Eucharistic host. 


Today, the Ecumenical Movement  seeks to employ the same tactic to  bring all religions into one worldwide faith. Terms like  communion, salvation, social justice, are being given new meanings for all to accept.   Many new age practices have been Christianized, causing unsuspecting Christians to enter into realms and practices that God forbids. Eastern meditation is now called contemplative prayer.  New Age prayer circles are now being practiced as Christian prayer circles. 


The Ecumenical Movement claims that it‘s goal is limited to the unification of only those religions and denominations that name the name of Jesus.  But their interfaith outreach to spiritist,  Hindus and other pagan religions challenges that assertion.   Some grave examples are the Christianizations of Hindu, Zen Buddha and Shinto practices.   Hinduism has entered Christian circles mainly through Yoga. Yogi Masters such as Baba Prem claim that it is impossible to separate Yoga from Hindu philosophy. Baba correctly asserts that the roots to modern day yoga come from Vedic Yoga -- the same Vedic Yoga that is the authority of Hinduism.  Yet, some Christians have wrongly choses to insist that Yoga is only exercise.


Since all reliable sources state that Yoga is first and foremost a philosophy, Christians who dabble in Yoga are at risk of direct disobedience to the Word of God. The apostle Paul warns,  "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ, (Col 2:8).


Since any philosophy involves a set of basic principles or concepts underlying a particular sphere of knowledge, anyone practicing Yoga is essentially halting between two philosophies which  cannot be reconciled.  Elijah asks, "How long will you halt between two opinions..?" (1 Kings 18:21).  God also asks Christians to separate from the world. Yoga is of the world.


2 Corinthians 6:14-18  14 ¶ Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers...  17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,  18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.


Hinduism and Christianity cannot be yoked.  As such, a choice  must be made. Yoga inherently asks for the yoking of practitioners to be one with the universe. The  Lord asks that we be submitted to Him. Only one master can be served.


When the Romans were presented with statues of Venus or Diana Christianized into the Virgin Mary they still saw them as Venus and Diana.  Similarly, when the ecumenists present Yoga as Christian exercise and mediation, God still sees it as Hindu. Yoga plays with the mind. One of its goals is to encourage relaxation, through both physical form and eastern style mediation. In contrast, Biblical meditation fills the mind with scripture and worship. Eastern forms of meditations require emptying the mind.  An empty mind is a play ground for demonic spirits. New Age channelers of angels and "spirit guides" begin by calling up the spirits that serve them by emptying their minds to allow the spirits to take over.  Is it any wonder that we are told to daily put on the helmet of salvation to protect our minds? (Eph 6:17). 


The heart of every Christian knows, through the workings of the Holy Spirit, when it is out of God‘s will. Beware of defensive phrases such as:   "it‘s only ..." or "what can it hurt?" or "it‘s just for fun", or "I don‘t see the harm" or "It‘s only exercise."  

Christians are called to lead a life that brings pleasure to the LORD.  In Rev. 4:11, John wrote, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”

Giving up those things which weigh us down and displease the Lord require such little sacrificing in return for the great sacrifice He made for us. If one wants exercise and chooses Yoga, something deeper is being sought.  Neither Ecumenism, New Age philosophy, Hinduism, nor Yoga can offer the rest of eternal salvation.  If you're practicing Yoga, please consider it's relationship to the false faith of Hinduism - and ask for the LORD's strength to separate from this practice.