by Jason Carlson and Ron Carlson
“Yoga purists are bent out of shape”. This was the headline of a recent article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper.1 The article explained that traditional yoga “experts contend that Hindu religious elements are being profaned by fad versions of the ancient practice.”
So, what are these “fad versions” of yoga that are upsetting the Hindu yogis? The article cites as an example the “millions of Americans… practicing yoga to improve flexibility, strengthen muscles and relieve stress.” These 16.5 million American yoga enthusiasts “spend nearly $3 billion annually on classes and products”. The problem with this, according to the Hindu yogis quoted in the article, is that yoga was never designed to be an exercise, yet alone an exercise “fad”. Rather, yoga is an ancient Hindu religious practice intended to unite a person’s soul with the impersonal, universal force Hindus call “god”.
The Hindu Sanskrit word “yoga” literally means to be yoked or joined in union. And the goal of every Hindu yogi is to use the religious practice of yoga to lose their personality and individuality and to become one with the monistic-pantheistic spiritual force of Hinduism. This is done through Hatha yoga (the physical postures), where one seeks to tap into what Hindus call the Kundalini, a spiritual force described as a “coiled white serpent of light” which lies at the base of the spine. Hindus believe the Kundalini can aid them in their transcendence to impersonal spiritual monism. Thus, for the Hindu, the physical postures of yoga are essentially keys that unlock the spiritual realm for the purpose of losing all attachment to the physical, material world, which they believe is an illusion. There should be no doubt about it; yoga is completely antithetical to a biblical worldview. It is a 2,000-year-old Hindu religious practice designed for very specific spiritual and occult purposes.
This Star Tribune article should be a wake-up call to every Christian who is currently practicing yoga. And it should be a wake-up call to every church currently hosting yoga classes or embracing yoga as a part of their weekly worship. Too many Christians have erroneously strayed into participating in this Hindu religious practice, which is in total opposition to the biblical worldview.
The common excuse for many Christian yoga enthusiasts is that they’re only doing yoga for its “exercise benefits”. However, the fact of the matter is this, God strictly forbids His people from dabbling in pagan, occult practices; and yoga should not be viewed as an exception, even if it has physical benefits. There are countless other ways to exercise that have nothing to do with pagan religious practices.
Others, aware of the Hindu origins of yoga, claim that their yoga meditation is “directed towards Jesus Christ and not the gods of Hinduism”. However, where in Scripture do we find any precedent for co-opting pagan, occult practices and incorporating them into our worship as believers? We find none. Rather, God has revealed to us in Scripture everything we need to know to have a vibrant and growing relationship with Him.
If you’re a Christian who has mistakenly gotten involved in the practice of yoga, we strongly encourage you to stop now. There is no excuse for staying involved in a pagan religious activity created to tap into demonic spiritual forces. The practice of yoga is contrary to our calling to honor God with our bodies; and it runs counter to our admonition to be salt and light to the world. Christianity and yoga do not mix!