Should Christians engage in Yoga as a form of Exercise?

Hello Family :wave:

I trust everyone is safe during the recent world events. I pray the mind of Christ revealed in this season for you.

I have a question concerning a recent encounter I experienced, and was hoping to get some biblical responses and advice concerning it.

A leader from my church has recently disclosed that they have engaged in yoga before and will be pursuing this as a form of exercise in the future because they enjoy doing it.

I have done some research about this and found the following video helpful from an ex Yoga teacher.

I love this person dearly and can’t help but feel that any engagement with this practice will cause deep deception and spiritual harm, so I reached out to them and shared the video I found.

The response I got was that they understood why the by brother in the above video cut ties as he was really practicing the theology behind yoga, and they are completely against that. However they are simply doing the stretches for stretching/exercise sake.

I feel a tug in my Spirit concerning this and I am super confused because this is coming from our Pastor. I am in much prayer and would like any help to assist navigating this challenge.

Not only that, but at work I see a lot of Christians engaging in meditation, mindfulness, mandala coloring and other forms of relaxation methods in the counseling center. This new age practices seem harmless, and are being entangled alongside the gospel for people to find peace :disappointed:

Thanks for your anticipated help.

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Hey @A.Sheppard268, thank you for asking this question. I can see that you care deeply for this person and want the best for them.

I can’t offer you a great deal of insight into this matter as I have personally always steered clear of yoga because of its controversial nature amongst Christians. When my daughter was taught yoga in lessons at pre school and primary school, I spent a lot of time in prayer about it as I had a strong conviction I didn’t want her participating. I did a fair amount of research on it. I spent time discussing with the teacher who explained there wasn’t any ‘religious’ aspect to it and they were merely using their bodies to form shapes to develop physical strength, posture and balance in their Farm Animals theme topic. She showed me the slideshow of postures she was using to show me the ‘pig’ or the ‘cow’ positions. It was all done from a good heart. However, right next to these was the Hindu name for each animal posture. Right there, I saw the inextricable connection to the Hindu practice. The reason this bothered me was because I knew that each yoga position was an act of worship to any Hindu god (they have 330 million gods). At any street corner in India will be a shrine to any one of these gods, and the yoga positions are used in worship. If that is what these positions are intended for, I decided my daughter wouldn’t enact them. This was how I felt led through prayer and research. I know other Christians feel differently and they do it from a good heart. I feel we have to be on our guard against the mixing of spirituality which is prevalent in the West.

You may find this previous conversation useful to browse. I hope this helps :grinning:.

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@A.Sheppard268 Thanks for sharing :slight_smile: Is your Pastor only doing Yoga as exercise or is he involved in the spiritual aspects of it?

I think the following videos make a few very good points:

  1. We should not be legalistic and make laws where the Bible does not speak - the Bible does not say anything against stretching
  2. We should avoid practices based in eastern mysticism
  3. We should not violate the consciences of our brothers and sisters in Christ

Obeying Our Conscience

I think that Yoga, when done simply as a stretching exercise, is an issue of conscience. We should not violate our own conscience or the consciences of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

1 Cor 8:4-13 - So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

7 But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

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Thank you @artownsend for your testimony concerning this topic.

I hope that your daughter still gets her daily exercise nontheless :grinning:

Currently I will continue to gather research and be in prayer , because I do care deeply for this person and I am seeing this mixing of spirituality becoming more previlant around me.

Thanks again for your help and the thread you sent. I am reading through the comments as we speak.

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Thanks Sean for your comments and the videos They were very enlightening !

My Pasotr is in the process of mentoring me and this is honestly causing a divide within me. She is fixated on defending that Yoga is not in anyway a problem and expresses the joy and relaxation she feels when she goes to the classes.

I am going to have to pray earnestly that The God of all wisdom illuminates what is really going on.

My conscience is saying something contrary to her’s so might just need to step back and re-evaluate the depth of this relationship with us.

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@A.Sheppard268 Praying for wisdom as you move forward :slight_smile: