Why is there such a thing as Christian Yoga? It certainly has no scriptural or biblical basis in support of it. I have repeated many times in my book, my writings and in radio interviews that Yoga is an eastern spiritual practice and has no place in the church. Do you think that Hindus who practice yoga are doing it to attain rock hard abs? The answer is clearly no. The purpose is spiritual. It is not just the meditations; but many of the postures used are a form of sun worship. Does that sound Christian to you? If you do not believe me than this newspaper article called "Is Yoga Debased by Secular Practice" should prove it. After you have read the article please click the link at the bottom of the page to return for my comments.
The description of Yoga is contradictory with Christianity, "Its practice strives to unite the individual soul with the "greater soul" of the universe..." The response from Christians who practice Yoga state that they do not use the meditations normally associated with Yoga. However, the meditations are not the only problem. "It is a whole series of ritual appreciations to the sun, being thankful for that source of energy." To think of it as a mere physical movement is tantamount to "saying that baptism is just an underwater exercise..." Can't Christians find another form of exercise to use then one that is clearly connected to eastern religions? Even the Hindus in the linked article are stating that it is a Hindu religious practice and to stop pretending that it isn't a Hindu religious practice! They seem a bit upset don't they?
If I were to come to a Hindu sanctuary and introduce them to the following meditation technique what do you think would be their response? Get on your knees, clasp your hands together and repeat over and over again, "I accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior". Do you think they would embrace it? I doubt it. So why do we as Christians embrace their religious prayer, meditation or practice? It must be that the Hindus recognize a religious practice when they see it and Christians simply cannot or will not.
When people share their reasons for exercise they will state, fitness, health, losing weight etc. However, when you ask them about Yoga the purpose for practicing it is almost always related to stress relief. If Christians are not participating in the meditative portion of Yoga than what is the benefit? Yoga’s main selling point is stress relief. Supporters of Yoga state that the stress relief comes from the practice of the meditation. If stress relief is the main reason for practicing Yoga, without the meditation it isn't any more of a stress reliever than any other form of exercise. Therefore, why not choose a different type rather than one borrowed from Hinduism?
If your reason for practicing “Christian” Yoga is to feel closer to God why would you believe that a Hindu ritual would accomplish this? I believe that many Christians who practice Yoga demonstrate a genuine feeling of distance from the Lord but due to a lack of strong biblical knowledge (which would given them what they really need) they resort to a false practice. It also demonstrates that the church who promotes Yoga lacks discernment or they are unwilling to describe the legitimate means of grace that would give their congregation the real feeling of closeness to the Lord, which they obviously lack. Ultimately, the church is to blame for not preaching or teaching the word.
So why is there Christian Yoga at all?
Many are simply ignorant that it is an eastern religious practice.
Many churches look it as a "hip" new way to attract people. Increasing the numbers coming into the church is more important than worrying about its eastern religious roots.
Few have the information to stand against it and fear being viewed as judgmental of they challenge the practice.
Many Christians are already involved in Yoga, why upset them?
Rather than trying to persuade Christians that they are in error, (the hard way) we have chosen to accommodate their error and call it "Christian" Yoga to make them feel better. For once I can say that on a spiritual topic I agree with the Hindus, there is no such thing as "Christian" Yoga.
Why do we need to combine any form of exercise with prayer? When the disciples asked Jesus how they should pray did he respond by saying let’s begin with jumping jacks? No, of course not. We can easily pray and exercise separately.
There are a multitude of exercise routines or stretching techniques to choose from that are equally as effective as Yoga and do not have any religious ties. Choose another form of exercise.
Keep churches as a place to pray, preach and worship and fitness clubs a place to exercise. It’s a radical idea but I think it can work.
I hope that this explanation will persuade Christians to study the Bible to feel closer to the Lord and find a form of exercise that doesn't yoke one to Hinduism.
Brian Flynn 2005