Yoga is not something that many people would associate with Christianity and the Bible.
Directly the bible does not specifically mention the word ‘yoga’ however, there are phrases and texts in the bible that could make us consider yoga as a practice for Christians.
Yoga in itself is pervasive. It is in the East, and it is in the west, you can find classes for yoga in the US, Europe, Africa, Russia, Australia, Central and South America. It’s everywhere.
You can find flyers for yoga on bulletin boards, at health stores, in elevators and more. But, is it more than just a form of exercise? For some, no. For others, yes.
Yoga is what you make it, just like your faith. Some people are deep in their faith, devoted to God, whereas other Christians may be more open.
It is like the Old Testament and the New Testament in a sense. You can see it in either way, and focus on one more than the other.
But, does the bible really have anything to say about yoga? And what could yoga mean for Christians?
What’s The Controversy?
Yoga has been something of a controversy for Christians in the West for quite some time.
However, not too long ago a church in India made a statement, totally rejecting the potential for compatibility between yoga and Christianity.
This query about the compatibility between yoga and Christians is something of a complex issue, because yoga may be seen as something of an Eastern practice, but everyone will practice yoga in a different context, spiritually, culturally, and even personally.
Some might believe that yoga and Christianity are more than compatible, others may believe otherwise. So, what’s the deal, does the bible have anything to say about this?
What Are The Goals Of Yoga?
To try to understand how yoga and Christianity can mix, we need to understand what the goals of yoga are.
In regard to the Asanas of yoga, these are simply a series of exercises, which are completed in a mental and physical form.
They are to be completed each day until you reach a higher state of being. Your nerve currents have to become detached and given new channels, you will experience new vibrations. And such.
The real importance of yoga is a process of controlling the body to free oneself from a subtle body.
Chakras are another part of yoga, which are believed to control our conscious mind.
Through the manipulation of the spine through different yoga poses you can increase the energy flowing from your body, thus altering your consciousness.
In a sense, the end goal of yoga is enlightenment, reaching a state of selflessness, or dismissal of the ‘me’ way of thinking that is so heavily integrated into the human state of being.
In many Eastern cultures, the practice of yoga is used to bring out a higher sense of consciousness about the universe and oneness with the world and subjective deities.
So, this would pose the question; ‘Can Christians use yoga to be closer to God?’ It turns out that there are some biblical verses which touch on this kind of topic.
While yoga is not specifically mentioned in the bible, the end goal, and practices of yoga can be attuned to some of the verses in the bible about our relationship with God.
Biblical Verses About Yoga
Sadly, when God presented us with the bible, he gave no instruction manual on how we should interpret each verse.
This means that we are left to interpret the verses ourselves in ways that best make sense to us.
We have separated known bible verses applicable to yoga into those for and against yoga to give a better idea of how the bible interprets yoga.
Bible Verses For Yoga
1 Timothy 4:7-8: “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come”.
(This verse is interesting as you could interpret it any other way. However, since yoga is about stepping outside of the ‘me’ way of thinking and learning inner peace and calm thinking, you could equate this to godliness. Remember, while yoga can be good for the body it can also be good for the mind and spirit.)
Psalm 1:2: “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night”.
(Part of yoga is meditation, in this sense it is good to meditate on the word of God.)
1 Corinthians 3:16: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”
(This verse would state that you may be able to access the part of you which is closest to God through yoga and/or meditation.)
Psalm 19:14: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”
(This verse states meditation of the heart. Which could link meditating the heart chakra to closeness to God.)
Bible Verses Against Yoga
Exodus 20:3: “You shall have no other gods before me.”
(Since yoga came from Eastern religions, this verse could dismiss yoga due to its evolving from other religions.)
1 Timothy 4:1: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.”
(This verse could be referring to the teachings of yoga. However, it could apply to many things outside of yoga as well.)
Overall: What Does Yoga Mean To Christians?
Christianity is still torn over yoga. However, there are many bible verses that mention meditation and a closeness to God, one which may be more accessible to those of the faith should they choose a mindful practice of yoga.
Really, it is up to each individual to interpret this as they see fit.