Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Practicing Yoga: Is It Safe?

I love doing yoga for exercise. You don't have to run anywhere; you are just stretching on your mat and having a good time. I have been doing yoga on and off for about 6 years now, and it is the easiest fitness program for me to stick to. However, there is a controversy of whether Christians should practice yoga, or if it is absolutely forbidden.

When I was asked this question for the first time, I answered, without a second thought, that, of course, Christians can do yoga. It is possible to use it as a pure system of exercise. I know that yoga is a religion, but I have always managed separating the philosophy and the poses.


How are Christianity and yoga different? First, yoga defines God as an impersonal, spiritual substance and claims that "God" is everything. The Bible carefully maintains a distinction between God the Creator and His creation, the Universe. Second, the two treat man in a different way. Since yoga defines "God" as everything, it, essentially, implies that man is God. However, Christians know that people are distinct from God. Finally, yoga is defined as a "union of the self with the Supreme Being" (thefreedictionary.com). Yoga, therefore, calls people to focus on their inner self and unite with "God" through mental and physical practice, while the Bible tells us that our purpose is to live for the glory of God. I think, this is the key point that helps me answer the question of whether Christians can practice yoga.

If I call yoga "stretching," then the question will be, "Should Christians stretch?" Sure, they should! Stretching is good for the body. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says, "For you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." The Bible clearly tells us to take care of our bodies. Therefore, stretching is not against Christianity. However, is it possible to truly separate the physical yoga practice from its philosophy? It depends on every person's convictions. I do not seek to quiet my mind and focus on my inner self, while doing yoga. Instead, I meditate on the Scripture and praise God for giving me a healthy body that is pretty flexible. If you can glorify God through your practice, why not do it? However, if you feel that yoga separates you from God and makes you concentrate more on yourself, then, most probably, it is not a good idea to continue the practice. It is like drinking alcohol: some people through conviction do not touch alcohol at all. Others allow the influence of alcohol to control their lives. Yet, there is a third group of people, who drink moderately, yet still glorify God.

How do you justify what you do when others have such strong convictions against it? 

4 comments:

  1. I think it's hard when Christians have so many quick judgments about things. We, like the Pharisees in Jesus' day, find strict rules and neat lines very safe and easy. Meanwhile, Jesus was never safe.

    All that to say, I think we need to really think about things, not snap to a conclusion. I agree with you about yoga! I don't do it as much as you do (and am CLEARLY from the photo not as flexible) but I love how my body feels after and definitely feel peaceful and relaxed. I don't typically take classes or watch videos where it's really into the "religious" aspect of it, but only the stretching. I definitely think it can be separated from that, and it's not a stumbling block to me, so yay yoga!

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  2. I agree, Kirsten! Thank you for your support.

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  3. Taya,
    Your post applies to so many different things...and your example of yoga is so true.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Lauren

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