What do you think??? Does Yoga conflict with Christianity?
Praised by many for its calming effect and wellness benefits, yoga is growing more and more every day—even in some Christian circles.
But should Christians be practicing yoga, considering the questionable religious background?
Such a controversial topic and all I want to do is give you my simple and humble opinion. I am in no way a professional Bible scholar, nor am I an expert in the practice of Yoga, but I am certified in Yoga, as well as Christian Yoga and a fitness professional for over 20 years! One thing I can tell you…I LOVE THE LORD and proud of it!
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1
There’s an abundance of opposing views for and against Yoga and Christianity; from both Christians and non-Christians. Once I began to get so many questions and concerns from my own clients, I got bombarded on Google with controversy over this topic. I wanted to tell you first and foremost … I’m not going to get too much into the religious and historical background because that’s just not GG’s style, but I do want to say that Yoga is not a religion. Yoga actually started in 3000 BC, way before there was formalized religion. I will answer some common questions I have had as well as my clients. keep on reading….
I began practicing yoga approximately 12 years ago and certified right after that. When I discovered there was this thing called “Christian Yoga,” I jumped all over it! I must say, I was a bit uncomfortable with many of the yoga classes I attended because I didn’t understand nor agree with the chanting, praying to other “gods,” or using energy from the universe. Luckily I am so strong in my faith, that I know WHO to pray to when times such as these occurred. I also began yoga strictly for the exercise, nothing else. I could easily ignore the “new agey” stuff because I just wanted the good workout, strength and stretching. It is such a great workout, so of course, this fit chick is going to jump all over that!
Check out some of my recent posts related to this topic:
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First, let’s back it up with a few facts about Yoga (don’t worry, this gal isn’t going too deep for my peeps) :
Taken from YogaFaith.org – “Yoga is simply defined as a union, to unite or to yoke. Not only do we unite our postures with our breath and our practice with our lives, we also create a union with the community and those we practice with. Many practitioners choose to unite their faith with their yoga practice. This beautiful and ancient gift of yoga was never meant to be exclusive, belonging to one person or a specific group of individuals; that in itself would be “un-yogic.” Yoga is inclusive, meaning that all are welcome no matter what walk of life you come from. Yoga is not a religion. It is nonsectarian, but contains the ability to deepen anyone’s faith. Aspects of yoga have been incorporated into many groups and various organizations, including religions, for thousands of years. However, yoga is not a religion in and of itself, nor do you have to be religious to practice yoga.”
I think that is a great description of yoga and how it all began and its purpose. The main thing we need to remember: yoga is NOT a religion! Yoga actually began as a practice that combines breath and movement to bring strength and stability and grace to our minds and bodies. Who couldn’t use that? I truly believe that HOW you practice is when you get into the spiritual side of it.
Who is Yoga For?
I have been in the fitness industry for way over 20 years and I’ve done every kind of workout and certification program that there is and Yoga was one of them. I was certified in regular Yoga because of what an incredible workout it is. As a fitness professional, I know how important it is to cross train and I loved the stretching, strengthening, and balancing aspects of yoga. Of course I made it my own with fun funky music and not the typical meditative type music. I later got certified in Christian Yoga and that’s when I learned that you can make Yoga what you want it to be for YOU.
If you go to a fitness center and participate in yoga, it’s going to be very fitness-oriented. Most likely you won’t get the spiritual aspect of Yoga. If you go to a Yoga studio, you will probably get much more of the traditional yoga practice; you may hear chanting, meditation, praying to “gods”, etc.
If you are very strong in your Christian faith, I feel as if you can take a Yoga class anywhere and you will be okay because you know Who you’re praying to and Who you serve. You know you are on this earth to serve the Lord and praise Him and only Him.
If you’re not very strong in your faith you might want to ease into yoga with a fitness-oriented class at a fitness center or even check out my YouTube Channel , I have several Yoga videos on my channel and you will see how I incorporate prayer and my faith into my Yoga practice.
I think that Yoga is amazing for anyone to do, and yes, even Christians! So many of our workouts today are centered on hopping up and down, HIIT workouts, lifting major weights, with loud pounding music and we need to slow down and get centered. Yoga is so relaxing and it’s centered on the breath that you have that time to focus on the Lord and prayer time. This is why I think Yoga and Christianity is such a perfect match!
How I Combine Yoga and Christianity
In my Yoga practice, I start sitting cross-legged on the floor with my palms up in a surrender posture. I relax my mind, my body and begin prayer time with the Lord. You are surrendering to the Lord. You are giving that Yoga practice to Him and having Him work through you. Yoga is the perfect time to be still before God.
- Put on my worship music and sing along as your worship time
- Say the Lord’s Prayer with Sun Salutations
- Quote scripture as you move through poses
- As you end the practice, either laying down or sitting cross legged, more prayer time and just listening to what God has to say.
I recently just returned from my first-ever Christian Women’s Wellness Retreat and I taught several Christian Yoga classes. The one thing the ladies told me was that they loved how I incorporated my faith and my prayer time into the practice of Yoga. They had never thought of that before and it’s such a blessing for me to have enlightened them on this topic. Check out my VIDEO on our 1st annual retreat.
- What about Meditation? Meditation is what you make it. I look at what the Bible says about it, and I practice that. I also practice being still in God’s presence and enjoying His company. I pick a scripture and meditate on that during my practice. Psalm 1:2 Whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
- Are Mantras and Meditation “safe” for Christians to do? – It is “safe” and pleasing to God to meditate on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8 If what you use as a mantra or affirmation lines up with the Truth of Jesus Christ and the Holy Bible, you are “safe.”
- What is “OM” and can a Christian do the “oms” ? From gaia.com, “Om is the Word of God.” “The sound OM is a vibration from which all the manifest universe emanates. Form and creation comes from vibration. OM is the most elemental of vibrations.” As someone who practices Yoga focused on the Lord, I do not do the “oms.” I feel that it’s just too questionable and I would much rather use that time for prayer or focusing on the Lord.
- What is Christian Yoga – It embraces the essential elements of yoga: breath work, meditation and physical postures. BUT, in all of these elements, Jesus is THE focus; we worship, praise and pray only to Him. There are other concepts and traditions that may be part of some yoga practices that are not part of a Christian Yoga practice, such as chanting “OM” or using chakra theory to explain the interplay of the physical and energetic dynamic in the human body.
God & Yoga??
God is EVERYWHERE! He wants to hear from us no matter where we are or what we’re doing. I truly believe He would love to be a part of all of our workouts, even Yoga. So many ladies I speak with daily are just so very busy! They don’t have time to get in their prayer time and their fitness but with Yoga you can. Or maybe you just want to go for a walk/run; those are all really good times to just stay focused on the Lord, to be still and to use that as your prayer and your worship time. Put on your worship music, listen to a great sermon or podcast or just be still and use this time alone with our Savior.
Make Yoga work for you but don’t let it scare you. If you go to a class and they start doing the “oms” and the chanting, you ignore that and you stay focused on the Lord. You use that time when they’re doing their chanting and just say to yourself, “I love you Lord. Thank you Lord.” or “Lord I love you. Thank you for bringing me here. Thank you for this practice, for stretching out my body, for strengthening my body.” Whatever you want to say, you use that time because Yoga is a very quiet practice so it is a perfect time to be still and listen to the Lord.
One of the things I love about Yoga. It’s all about stretching, holding postures, relaxing and you really don’t need to be thinking about anything except stretching and lengthening out your body; use that as a time to connect with the Lord.
This is my personal and humble opinion on Christianity and Yoga and I do feel that if you are strong enough in your faith and you know that your faith lies in the Lord, go for it! It’s an incredible workout and perfect time to quiet ourselves and focus on Him. If you don’t feel comfortable going to a Yoga studio check out my Yoga videos. I have several and I’m adding more all the time; use that as your prayer time, your time with the Lord and just really focus on Him and just be still before the Lord.
I hope this helps and gives you a wider view of Yoga even if it is just my humble opinion. I think it’s important that you make Yoga work for you! But, feel free to do your own research and come to your own conclusion.
Interested in Taking a Yoga Class or Getting Certified in Christian Yoga?
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What about you? Do you like Yoga? Do you practice it regularly? Ever tried a Christian Yoga class? If you’d like to try some basic yoga at home, see my YouTube channel below.