In the present day, in nearly any city, suburb, community, or college campus, we can frequently see people engaging in what they know as “yoga”, a practice which they think will help them achieve peace, relaxation, fitness and/or a “focused” mind.
In addition to its wide representation in movies, TV shows and other media, a study by the Yoga Journal depicts that 20.4 million Americans practice yoga in the present day(this number is probably bigger), which conveys the shocking popularity of yoga.
Since we live in the Western world, we dwell in eclectic societies with diverse philosophies and influences. Historically, outside influences have always tried to infiltrate the church, even since the early first century A.D. in the Roman Empire. Now that we are in the last times, this has not decreased in any way, and we should be prepared.
The practice of yoga appears to have proliferated to a large degree, in part aided by a lack of awareness regarding its origins. We will carefully zoom into, scrutinize, and flesh out the origins of yoga until there is no doubt as to where it came from, what it consists of, and answer the question: Should Christians do yoga?
What Is Yoga?
Yoga is an Eastern physical and religious ritual in the religion known as Hinduism, with origins in Hindu philosophy.
Despite its origins in a school of thought or philosophy which would make it seem innocuous, it is however, a philosophy imbued with religious polytheistic beliefs and hence its utter incompatibility with Christianity. Its main goal is “yoke” or union with the supreme(the pagan Hindu gods).
A (Short) History Of Yoga
To understand where yoga came from, it is absolutely salient to review what people call “Hinduism”. The word “Hinduism” was coined in the nineteenth century, and it is a word that people in India didn’t know before that century. This word is a catchall term for a wide variety of pagan traditions in India that hold the Vedas (a collection of texts that are held sacred in India, written by nomad people in the Indus-Valley) as truth.
It’s worth looking into these texts, what they say, and what they produced. The Vedas are thought to be revealed by a variety of Indian gods, such as a god of thunder and rain, a god of fire, a goddess of the dawn and the list goes on (you’ll want to remember this for later on). To your shock, they describe a pantheon of gods very similar to the Greek and Roman pantheon.
These numerous religious traditions began in the second millennium B.C, and in the beginning, these were focused in outward rituals of purity, sacrifices and other outward-leaning rules such as birth distinctions(described in the Vedas).
Later, around 700 B.C, figures such as Siddhartha Gautama broke with the outward-leaning focus and reinterpreted the physical, tangible, visible practices as an inner activity and philosophy, not an external thing (such as the external purification practices of the body).
This new emphasis was embodied in the Upanishads (which was subsequently embedded in the Vedas), whose authorship is unknown but were thought to be developed ca. 600-100 B.C, and which all Indian traditions now hold central parts of. It is during this period that the practice of meditation likely appeared, through men who “meditated in the forest.”
Now you may ask yourself: Okay, all of this history is interesting, but how does that relate to yoga? As it was said before, there are a wide variety of religious traditions in India, but some are associated with these Vedas texts, and the pagan god Brahman, and others are not. So, this nuance is important to keep in mind.
Among those that are associated with the Vedas (and therefore the Upanishads) are three prominent ones: samkhya, advaita vedanta and (*insert suspense sounds*) one philosophical/religious system known as: Yoga.
It appears that the exact date and location of the origin of yoga is not certain, but it arose from the people in the Indian subcontinent who believed in the religious and philosophical system of the Upanishads and designed practices to clear the mind and attain a state of “detached awareness.” The goal of all yoga practices is to make the mind absolutely calm and clear so it will connect better with the pagan god Brahman.
Paying attention to the “s” in practices above, that’s exactly what yoga is. There are various types of yoga. It is actually more than just one practice, and should probably be called “yogas”, but they are collectively known as yoga. Indeed, there are many; one is called “raja yoga,” other is “karma yoga” and so on.
The element of yoga that is most widely portrayed in media and which most people know, which is the fitness element, is in the one known as “raja yoga.”
A “sage” named Patanjali created this one, and he designated 8 “limbs” or tenets of this path of yoga. The second tenet or “limb” is where this element becomes salient: Patanjali stated this second “limb” consists of one physical posture as well as breathing exercises used to cleanse the body, help the mind concentrate and connect better with his pagan god, Brahman.
All branches of ‘yogas’ have this goal, which they have inherited from the Upanishads texts, in which this goal is asserted: achieving a union through meditation with the pagan god Brahman.
This is where the word “yoga” comes from: “yoke” or union with the Hindu god Brahman.
Should Christians Do Yoga?
Christians shouldn’t do yoga because of its proven roots in a polytheistic, pagan religion. Engaging in religious or philosophical rituals from other religions such as yoga, is forbidden because the Lord Jesus Christ demands an exclusive relationship with Christians; religious syncretism is a sin in Christianity. In Greco-Roman times, some Christians sinned by participating in other religions and were castigated by God (Revelation 2:20).
Yoga’s incompatibility with Christianity lies in the fact that it was created as a religious ritual where each physical posture is aimed at connecting the practitioner better with the pagan god.
It is certain that the practice of yoga amalgamates the physical with the religious aspect; the aforementioned Patanjali married the physical and religious components of yoga into one.
There was never any “fitness component” originally ascribed by the Hindus to yoga; contrary to the Western people’s perceptions about it, the “fitness” aspects of yoga are actually just physical body movements aimed at a connection with Brahman, the pagan god, or ultimate reality.
In a nutshell, for the Hindu who created yoga, the distinction between the physical and religious aspects of yoga never existed; it is all part of a polytheistic religious ritual.
Just like there can’t be a “Muslim Christmas”, there can never be such a thing as “Christian yoga” and yoga and Christianity are two totally opposite things. When an individual engages in yoga in order to attain peace, fitness, “stretching”, serenity, or perhaps a “focused” mind, they are really engaging in a demonic practice that was developed by pagan Hindu philosophers. You can’t achieve this with pagan practices. Only Jesus can bring true peace and joy to your heart.
We must keep in mind what our dear apostle Paul stated in Ephesians 5:11:
11 “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”
My dear Christian, we can trace the myriads of attempts of pagan influences trying to infiltrate the church ever since as early as 60 A.D, in the Roman Empire. (Open up the book of Revelation to see it), and we must beware. The church is NOT meant to be a place with eclectic philosophies and a wide amalgam of influences, but instead influenced by the one inspired word of God.
The enemy thrives on ignorance, and on matters that can be confusing for some such as this, but Christianity’s incompatibility with this practice is unequivocal, and solid. Just as it is incompatible with Islam, or any other pagan religion.
We risk becoming like the people of Israel if our lack of knowledge allows the advance of pagan practices like this. The historical and religious origin of this practice reveals the truth: Christians should never do yoga. I encourage you to pray so that the acceptance and proliferation of yoga in the Western world is greatly curtailed.
Next time when you have a friend, a college classmate or perhaps a colleague from work who invites you to do yoga, I encourage you to respectfully decline and share the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ with that person. God bless!