Is Yoga Ok For Christians? (Here's a hint: It's not!)

There's this article out right now about people doing yoga at a church.  And this, of course, raises the question about if it's ok for Christians to do yoga.    

I have thought about this issue before and wrote a post on it.  And I'm going to repost it here at the end.  

[Hear me out.  This is important.  Even if you don't do yoga, it's worth learning about it so you can be discerning.  This is seeping into the church now, and it affects our Christian family.  Do you know what you believe about it and why?

A suggestion: Before you read this, say this prayer out loud, "Lord, give me Your eyes, the wisdom to see this issue the way You do."  And if you hesitated to pray this or don't want to pray this, then ask yourself and ask God "Why am I hesitating?"  You might be surprised by the answer.]



First let me say that I've never done yoga.  But I used to want to.  For the health benefits.  But after going through a season of demonic harassment (unrelated to yoga), I started to think that not only was yoga inappropriate for Christians and dishonoring to God but that it could also be dangerous, opening people up to demonic attacks. 

The lady in the article claims that yoga is neutral.  

Hmm?  Since when is practicing Hindu worship "neutral"?  Since when does Hindu prayer "not belong to one religion"?

I have recently read a post by someone who claims she's learned great Christian lessons through yoga, that she uses yoga to help her connect with and worship Jesus.  She even ended her post with "namaste."  ("Namaste" basically means "the god in me bows to the god in you."  Not a biblical idea!)

We would be wise to remember that it's not up to us how we get to approach God.  How we connect with Jesus and how we worship Him.    

It's up to God how we approach Him.  And approaching Him in the wrong way - such as by trying to incorporate Hindu prayer practices - can lead to disastrous consequences for our faith.  

Read what happened to Aaron's sons when they approached God the wrong way in Lev. 10.  And how was Solomon led astray?  In 1 Kings 11, we read that he was swayed by the religions of his foreign wives.  And what's one of the most common problems with the kings of the Old Testament, one of the biggest things that caused the country to repeatedly drift from God?  When they didn't fully destroy the religious sites and practices of those who worshipped false gods.  (How do you think God would respond if these kings said, "Oh, I'm not really worshipping their gods; I'm just going through the motions for the health benefits"?  Do you really think He'd go, "Oh, okay, that's fine, I guess.  Now that I know you don't really mean it."?)



I agree with the person in the article who made the comment that yoga opens us up to the enemy, that we can give the enemy a legal right to attack us when we engage in something that is in opposition to God and biblical truth.  I have read of people who have dealt with dangerous behaviors and suicidal thoughts, brought on by yoga, which is really just Hindu worship, which is really just demon worship.

  
Engaging in anti-God things removes you from God's protective hand and makes you susceptible to demonic attacks.  You don't have to believe me if you don't want to, but don't say you were never warned.  



(Although ... I have heard of people who have developed their own stretches and moves which are similar to yoga but not the same, such as "PraiseMoves."  I have no idea about that stuff, so you'll have to review it for yourself.  But I would say that yoga doesn't "own" any and all stretches, so you can do other kinds of stretches and exercises, and it would be just fine.  But yoga does "own" classic yoga poses, and doing those poses is engaging in Hindu worship.)  



Yoga is not "innocent or neutral."  It's not devoid of Hindu spirituality.  It is at the very heart of Hindu spirituality, the worship of Hindu gods.  

And when Christians do yoga, it's not just about physical health.  It's about bowing down to Hindu gods, mimicking Hindu prayer poses.  It's about encouraging the spread of Hindu spirituality in our country and even among Christians.  It's about incorporating anti-God stuff into your life, but then trying to label it "neutral," "acceptable," "beneficial" and maybe even "holy."  

Isn't this how Satan gets us in so many areas!?!  Isn't this how we nibble our way lost!?!  

We want to do something that's inappropriate, and so we find ways to excuse it or spiritualize it.




I felt compelled to comment on the post of the Christian who was encouraging yoga and claiming it helps her faith.  I left the link to the article about the people doing yoga at church, hoping she would read the comments against yoga in it.  (You could tell from her tone that she knows what other Christians would say about yoga and doesn't want to hear it.)  

But she basically defended the person who was being criticized for leading the yoga at church.  And then she explained that she herself, in the yoga classes she teaches, makes it less-Hindu by not using the namaste greeting.  Which was weird because she clearly used it at the end of her post, showing me that she is unaware of what it means or doesn't care what it means.  (And I don't get how simply dropping the "namaste" is supposed to reduce the Hindu-ness of yoga?)

But what bothered me most about her post were the comments left by others.  Other women were commenting things like, "How great!  I love yoga, too.  I can't wait to do it!" etc.  And all I could think was, How sad!  How sad that they don't even realize - or maybe they do - that they are being led down a potentially very dark path, away from the Lord.  And how scary that they don't seem to realize or care that their support for yoga might lead others down that path, too.  

It's one thing for the woman to do yoga herself, but to lead other Christians into it ... that's sad.  And scary.  When something is as controversial as yoga, is it wise to spread it among believers?  To normalize it?  To make it seem more acceptable than it is?

When she stands before God, will there be a price to pay for telling others that engaging in Hindu worship practices is perfectly acceptable for Christians?  Will others pay a price for being swayed by her?


[A challenge for Christians who practice yoga:  Ask yourself if you would give it up if God told you to stop doing it.  Play that scenario out in your head.  Imagine God telling you it's inappropriate and that you need to stop.  What would your reaction be?  Really picture it in your head.  Could you walk away from it easily if God told you to?  How much would you fight Him?  How many excuses did you come up with to keep doing it?  Are you resistant even to the idea of asking Him His opinion on it?  And does this tell you anything about where your heart is?  About the condition of your faith?  About any footholds or strongholds Satan has in your heart and mind?]




Being the opinionated person I am, I couldn't just sit by and let that happen.  I couldn't just sit quietly as another believer sang the praises of yoga, leading others to believe that it's perfectly acceptable, that partaking in poses specifically created to honor Hindu gods could be honoring to Jesus.  (After all, I opened the door to almost five months of demonic harassment simply by watching an educational television program on "The Devil's Bible."  How much more might someone open the door to demonic harassment through "worshipping" Hindu gods?)

So I added this post to the link-ups on the blogs where her post was linked-up.  I might not be able to change her mind, but I can do my part to at least give others the information they need to be discerning about yoga, to hopefully help them stop and think about the potential dangers of following her "Christian" advice.


If we don't take stands when stands are needed, we encourage moral decay with our silence!

 
Regular visitors to those link-ups might think I'm being mean for linking up a post that contradicts hers.  But I care more about the spiritual condition of the Church, more about contending for the faith, more about the souls of other believers, of those who might be led astray by the "advice" that "yoga is great for Christians" ... than I care about if others see me as mean.

If taking a stand against blending Hindu worship with Christianity makes me "mean" ... then mean I'll be!

I'm not saying all this because I want to ... but because I have to.  I'm not linking up this post because I want to ... but because I have to.  We are allowing the worship practices of false religions to invade Christianity.  And we are saying nothing about it except, "Oh, how great that you can use yoga to connect with Jesus more!"

Can you!?!  Can you really!?!

There are far too many areas where Christians are compromising God's Truth.  Far too many ways that churches are sliding into heresy and apathy and outright rebellion against God's Word.  There is far too much tolerance for people who spread falsehood, twist the Bible, and tickle the ears of society, telling people what they want to hear instead of what God really says.

And it's time to stop tolerating that.  Time to stop looking the other way.  If we do not stand up when other people pervert the Truth, then we are partially responsible for the backslidden condition of the Church!  


(And I mean no offense personally to the woman who wrote the post.  I'm sure she's a great woman and truly wants to share her faith and honor God in her life.  But I would challenge her to seriously consider her stance on yoga.  To research it thoroughly and see if it can indeed be blended with our Christian faith, if it truly brings God glory or not, if it will lead people closer to the Lord or potentially away from Him.  This issue is worth researching thoroughly, instead of simply trying to find excuses to keep doing it.)  


Just because someone doesn't acknowledge the reality of the spiritual world involved with spiritual/worship practices doesn't mean it's not going to affect them.  I might not acknowledge the occultic nature of playing with an Ouija board or getting my fortune told, but my denial or ignorance of what it really is won't protect me from the evil behind it.  Demons won't go, "Oh, but she doesn't acknowledge or know about the demonic part of it so we can't harass her.  Besides, she was praying to God in her heart while getting her fortune told, so she's off-limits."  

They don't play by rules like that.  If they see an open door, they take it.  Especially when we ourselves open the door for them, whether we intended to or not.  When I watched that program on the "Devil's Bible" which started months of demonic harassment for me, I intended to mock it.  I scoffed at it.  I knew it wouldn't sway me at all.  And I never thought I was doing anything "wrong."  

But demons don't care about intentions.  And although I didn't think it was "wrong" to watch an educational program, it was still an open door for them.  For some reason or other.  I might not understand how it all works, but I know enough to know that we can open doors to demons whether we intend to or not, especially when it comes to occultic or false religion things.  This is why I take this issue - and others like it - so seriously.  Playing with fire while denying that we might get burned won't protect us from getting burned.



You know what's kinda amazing about all this?

Christians are being beaten and killed in other countries, even attacked by Hindus, for being faithful to Jesus.  Here's the story of a woman and man beaten in India - a country whose main religion is Hinduism - for not participating in the local religious rituals because of their faith in Jesus.  (And here's another recent report on the condition of Christians living in India.) 

And yet here we are in America ... embracing those Hindu rituals, trying to Christianize Hindu worship, watering down the worship of God with the worship of Hindu gods.  And we encourage others to do it, too, and convince ourselves that it's okay.

Shame on us!

We have no idea what it really means to stand up for our faith, to be willing to live and die for Jesus.  Not when we are so willing to compromise our faith.  To dabble with the practices of other faiths for the "health benefits."  

I've said it before and I'll say it again:  

We can't dare think we'd be willing to faithfully die for Jesus if we're not even really willing to faithfully live for Him.




And now, to take it even further ... here is the post I once wrote on yoga (updated slightly).  And I still stand by it:  




Yoga:  Harmless?


Okay, I know that I’m not going to make any friends with this post (reprinted from my other blog), but I want to share with you something that I think is concerning.  

Yoga!  

It’s everywhere.  Even Christians do this without thinking much of it.  

But did you know that yoga is actually a form of Hindu worship?  Those poses are meant to join you with the gods and the “universe,” where “all are one”.  (Look it up on the internet and see what you think.  And I'm talking classic yoga here, not some of today's versions which are only "yoga" in name but have none of the classic prayer/worship poses.)



Now, I know that there are Christians who would call yoga “morally-neutral, harmless, and even beneficial”.  But I would have to respectfully disagree.  (I said respectfully.  So, please don’t send angry emails defending it.  You can practice yoga if you want to.  I will tolerate it because I have to, but I will still disagree with it and take a stand against it.) 


I don’t think that yoga can be considered God-glorifying in any sense, considering the whole spiritual origin and purpose behind the practice of yoga.  And I don’t think you can just go, “Oh, I don’t think about the spiritual side of it.  It’s just good exercise,” and change the very nature of what it is.  It is a form of Hindu prayer.  That’s just what it is.  And if this is the case, wouldn’t it be erring on the side of spiritual caution to avoid it entirely, when its very essence is Hindu spiritualism?  Aren’t there other good, non-controversial forms of exercise out there?

You might not think of the spiritual side when you're doing yoga ... but did you ever stop to consider that maybe God does?      


Now, for those who think I’m being an old fuddy-duddy to suggest that Christians make a break from a questionable practice like yoga, read the Old Testament and see how thoroughly God instructed the Israelites to make a break from the religious practices of the people around them.  Deuteronomy 12, for example.  

Where is our zeal for living God-glorifying lives nowadays?  For taking a stand for Him?  For trying to live as righteously as possible for His name's sake and for our witness to others?  

You just don’t see it that often anymore.  Instead, we see more and more Christians trying to incorporate secular and/or ungodly things into their lives, into their faith.  Putting desires over biblical truth.  Trying to please ourselves instead of pleasing God.  


I think it’s actually quite alarming to see how commonplace yoga is.  There are studios all over the place.  There are videos on shelves at every store.  It’s portrayed in many, many commercials, movies, magazines, etc.  And it’s always associated with peace and health and inner light and goodness.  What a subtle, sneaky, insidious infiltration.      



Look at the extent to which the Israelites were to go to rid their land of idol worship.  Deuteronomy 7:5-6:  “This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire.  For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.  The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.”  

And yet here we are, imitating Hindu worship in the name of health and physical fitness ... saying that Hindu worship blends nicely with our Christian faith ... encouraging the spread of Hindu worship among Christians, telling them that God wouldn't mind, that they have nothing to worry about, that it's perfectly acceptable.
    



You know, I used to wonder How in the world can the people of the Bible go from being wholly devoted to God to following false gods and their own desires . . . in one generation?  But when I look at the world around us today, I think I can understand.  It’s not that the older generation didn’t teach the new generation God’s truth.  And it’s not that the new generation flat-out rejected God and His truth. 


It’s probably that the new generation slowly nibbled their way lost by tinkering with things that do not glorify God, by allowing bits and pieces of the world to enter their lives without really batting an eye.  Like a slow dripping poison that you can’t feel at first.  A little bit here, a little bit there.  Question God in this thing.  Get indignant about that restriction.  “Morality is not really black and white, is it?  This isn’t really that bad?  Could it really be wrong?  When no one’s getting hurt?  Did God really say in His Word, ‘You must not . . .?’”


Meanwhile, there’s the older generation.  They don’t like what they are seeing, but, “Those crazy kids.  I guess that’s just how they do things nowadays.”  Or maybe they are grieved by what they are seeing, but, “It’s really not my place to say anything.  I don’t want to make anyone feel bad.  I don’t want to look holier-than-thou or like an old fuddy-duddy.  And I don’t want to offend anyone.  So I can’t really take a stand against anything . . . because it might upset someone.”  And they basically condone and encourage society’s slow drift from God by their passivity, by refusing to speak the truth in love or to stand by their convictions that there is “right” and there is “wrong.”  And Satan laughs and slips farther in! 



Yes, I am guilty of not taking a stand for so long, for fear of making others feel bad or of standing out as different.  And I am guilty of allowing things into my life and home and mind that are not God-glorifying.  But God is working on me.  And I am getting more and more sensitive to what doesn’t bring God glory.  

(And yoga is about as "spiritually neutral" as an Ouija board, as witchcraft.  They're both playing with fire.  Dancing with demons.  And when you play with fire, you take the risk of getting burned.  And when you get burned, you can't say you didn't deserve it.)  

And my desire has become to call other Christians up to a higher level of righteousness.  And to strive for it myself.  And this is why, as a believer, I feel a responsibility to point out the dangers of yoga and to encourage other believers to reconsider the “harmlessness” of it (and other things like it).  But don’t just listen to me.  Research it for yourselves and see if you can practice it with a clean conscience anymore.  

Is God smiling on you as you raise your hands to Hindu gods, as you support the yoga businesses in our country, as you encourage other Christians to raise their hands to Hindu gods too?  Is God honored when He sees you engaging in Hindu worship while you deny that you are engaging in Hindu worship?         


I would love to challenge a generation of believers to NOT compromise God’s truth.  To seek Him and follow Him whole-heartedly.  We have a responsibility to reflect the light of God’s love and God’s truth to those around us, living it as well as speaking it.  Let’s see what He can accomplish through a generation of people who are wholly devoted to Him.


I think when it comes to yoga, Christians will have to decide for themselves if they are going to choose "physical wellness" over "spiritual wellness," if they would rather glorify their body instead of our God.  Yoga might make your body stronger and healthier, but at what cost to your relationship with God and your Christian testimony!?!


And where is the line between mimicking Hindu worship and participating in Hindu worship, when both those who mimic and those who worship are standing side-by-side doing the same poses?  At what point does mimic become worship?  Or at least too much like worship to tell the difference?     




For more on yoga, click on these (and even if you yourself don't do yoga, do you understand it well enough to take a position on it as a Christian?):


Is Hatha Yoga Religiously Neutral? 

What Is The Christian View Of Yoga? 

The Spiritual Deception of Yoga 

Drugs, Yoga, and Demons 

Hypnosis and Yoga Open Hidden Spiritual Doors 

Yoga: Yokes, Snakes, And Gods 

Why I Quit My Yoga Class  (She makes such a great point about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  She points out how they could have bowed down to the statue as commanded but simply prayed to God in their hearts as they bowed, sparing themselves from being thrown into the furnace.  But they didn't.  Why?  Because they knew the actions they went through mattered, that the appearance of them bowing down mattered, regardless of what was going on in their hearts.  They didn't try to get out of the furnace by appearing to worship the statue while praying in their hearts.  Yet this is what Christians who practice yoga do all the time - go through the Hindu worship movements while praying to God in their hearts.  Can the two really be compatible?  Would God think they're compatible?  And on the other side of the coin is Daniel, who was told to stop praying to God or get thrown into the lion's den.  He could have simply prayed to God in his heart without going through the physical motions of bowing down to God.  But he didn't.  He chose to continue to bow down while praying.  Why?  Because the actions we go through mean something.  Can you separate the actions from the worship?  The appearance of worship from the reality of worship, as many Christians attempt to do with yoga?)    

The Spiritual Stretch of Yoga (This apparently is on on-line "book," a testimony of someone who had gotten into New Age stuff and is "pulling back the curtain" to show what's really behind these New Age practices and the dangers in them.  I will have to go back and read the other chapters.)

Dealing With The Legal Rights of Demons  (Interesting read.  May be some help in there for those who want to know what to do about demonic harassment.  I don't know about all that's on this site, though, so be discerning.  I try to be very cautious about people who teach about spiritual warfare tactics because far too many Christians handle it the wrong way: sensationalizing it, turning it into some sort of show of power, following all sorts of crazy steps, or acting like they have more power than they do.  When in reality it's the Holy Spirit and Jesus who really have the power and authority over evil and who deserve the glory for it.  But the info on this page seems pretty on-track.)


Remember this song:  Witch's Invitation by Carman.  It's a good reminder of the reality of the spiritual battle that's going on around us all the time, that's definitely happening around yoga and things like it.



[Of course, you can find any number of blogs out there by Christians claiming that yoga is perfectly acceptable.  But you can also find this for homosexuality, gay marriage, gender-neutrality, abortion, New Age or occultic activities, etc.  

There are multitudes of Christians (or "Christians") willing to tell you what you want to hear, willing to pass off what they want to believe as biblical truth.  Be discerning.  

Ask "What would - what does - God say about this?" instead of "What do I want to believe about this?"  (Even better, ask God in prayer what He thinks about it.  And wait and listen for the answer.)

Ask "Is this something a faithful follower of Jesus should be doing?" instead of "What excuse can I use to keep doing it?"  

When there's something we want to do, we tend to excuse it with "Oh, I'm a strong enough Christian that it's not going to affect me badly anyway."  (If you were a "strong enough" Christian, would you be doing something like that to begin with?)  

But maybe it's not about how it affects you.  (And don't kid yourself, if will affect you).  Maybe it's about how it affects God and how it affects our Christian witness and Christian family.  

The issue isn't "Will it affect me?"  

It's "Is God glorified by this?  Does it honor Him, lead to righteousness, help others in their faith, and build up His kingdom?"

Yes, God wants us to be healthy.  But do you really think He wants it this way?  Health does not trump righteousness, holiness, and glorifying God.  Physical health should not take priority over spiritual health.



And for more posts on the compromising condition of Christians nowadays in various areas:

Why Are Christians Apologizing For The Truth?

Why I Don't Trust Women-led Churches!

To Compromising Christians:

Why Do Christians Make Such A Big Deal Out Of Certain Issues?

Love Others or Love God?

A Biblically-based Commentary On LGBTQ Issues

How Christians Are Led Into Accepting Homosexuality!

Jesus Wasn't Always "Nice"

God is love, but love is not a god!




Comments

This is a very thought-provoking post. You might accuse me of living under a rock, but I never realized that yoga was part of Hindu worship. I've never really been into yoga, although I can't say I've never done a yoga stretch at the end of a few workouts, but I will definitely be revising those workouts. Thanks for the wake-up call!
Thank you for visiting and commenting, Ashley. I never really thought much about it either until I had that nighttime demonic harassment. It really opened my eyes to the spiritual world and the things we do that impact the spiritual world. I don't mean to offend anyone or make anyone feel bad when I call yoga out for being "Hindu worship," but I do mean to "sound the alarm" because it's become so common and popular that many of us don't realize what it really is. And we don't consider how it might affect us spiritually. Thank you again for taking the time to comment. God bless!

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