Yoga is a traditional Hindu philosophy and ascetic discipline, that involves connecting with the spiritual realm. Hindus hope to attain a higher sense of self-awareness and aim to be free from all different desires. Yoga traditionally has included mantras, unique breathing control, meditations, and the adoption of specific bodily postures.
Can Christians do yoga? Yes. However, Christian yoga can be both safe and unsafe. Yoga can fall in either category, depending on how it is executed. Yoga can be safe when the only aspects involved are physical exercises such as stretching, flexibility, and muscle strength. However, yoga can also be dangerous when participating in any kind of spiritual activity. Some examples would be repeating chants and meditating on anything other than the Lord.
Although there are two different viewpoints on this topic. One perspective is for modern-day yoga and the other is against.
The Origins of Yoga
Yoga is a practice that started in the eastern world. This is where (Hindu) people try to liberate themselves from their own mind, will, and emotions. A big part of the Hindu religion is trying to separate themselves from desire. Whether good or bad, desire is wrong. No one should crave or have the need to be satisfied in the first place, according to Hindu thought.
Yoga is a Hindu spiritual practice that one would meditate and focus on departing themselves from their bodies. A part of which, including breathing control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation.
It is a series of stretches and slow-moving exercises that would prep a person’s body, by them sitting in a specific position, meditating, reciting mantras, and doing special breathing exercises. The entire purpose of yoga is to transcend the body and mind, by having their brains be separated from their soul. The point is to become one with the spiritual realm seeking to free themselves from desire.
Different Variations of Yoga
There are different variations of yoga. (Even in India, Nepal, and other places where it is popular) However, in general, there ‘s a spiritual discipline that includes several different practices (special breathings, meditation, different body postures, stretching, etc.) to ultimately bring the goal of being at a higher level of spiritual awakening or awareness.
There is no doubt that if you are engaging in any of this, that you are now opening the door for those spirits to come into your life and have power to an extent.
11 Types of Yoga:
1. Ansura Yoga
Anusara is a modern-day version of hatha yoga. This style is strictly physical and focuses on the alignment of the body. However, this is with more focus on the mind-body-heart connection and different verbiage. Anusara is known for its emphasis on heart-opening. Expect to often stop in class and gather around a student as the instructor breaks down a pose.
2. Ashtanga Yoga
Ashtanga yoga involves a very physically demanding sequence of postures, so this style of yoga is definitely not for the beginner. Ashtanga has the flowing style of linking breath to movement.
3. Bikram Yoga
Next is Bikram Yoga. This style is physical exercise with a little heat that features a sequence of set poses in a sauna-like room—typically set to 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity. The sequence includes a series of 26 basic postures, with each one performed twice.
4. Hatha Yoga
Fourthly is Hatha yoga, which simply refers to all the other styles of yoga that are grounded in physical exercise. This physical-based yoga is the most popular and has numerous styles. Hatha yoga classes are best for beginners since they are usually paced slower than other yoga styles.
5. Iyengar Yoga
Iyengar Yoga is a physical style that relies heavily on props to help students perfect their form and go deeper into poses in a safe manner. This style is really great for people with injuries who need to work slowly and methodically.
6. Jivamukti Yoga
Sixth is Jivamukti Yoga which is a flow-style, infused with Hindu spiritual teachings. A series of chants usually open the beginning of class followed up by a series of poses that align with the five tenets of Jivamukti yoga and philosophy.
7. Kundalini Yoga
The next style is Kundalini, this style is both equal parts of spiritual and physical. This style is all about releasing the kundalini energy in your body said to be trapped, or coiled, in the lower spine. These classes really work your core and breathing with fast-moving, invigorating postures, and breathing exercises. Kundalini Yoga is pretty intense and can involve chanting, mantra, and meditation.
8. Prenatal Yoga
Eighth is Prenatal yoga, this style is strictly physical exercise. This style is known as one of the best types of exercise for expectant moms because of the pelvic floor work, focus on breathing, and bonding with the growing baby; prenatal yoga also helps mothers prepare for labor and delivery.
9. Restorative Yoga
Restorative yoga is known as a physical exercise that focuses on winding down after a long day and relaxing your mind. At its core, this style focuses on body relaxation. Like Iyengar, many props are used and are placed just right such as blankets, bolsters, and eye pillows. All of the props are there to help you sink deeper into relaxation.
10. Vinyasa Yoga
The tenth style is Vinyasa Yoga, this style can be mixed with a style of physical and spiritual. This is where the movement is coordinated with your breath and movement to flow from one pose to another. The Vinyasa style can vary depending on the teacher, and there can be many different types of poses in different sequences.
11. Yin Yoga
Lastly, Yin Yoga is a physical, slow-paced style with seated postures that are held for longer periods of time. The classes are relaxed, as you’re supposed to let gravity do most of the work. This particular style is meant to physically relax that body and brighten up someone’s mood.
What Does Modern Yoga Look Like?
Yoga, as it is practiced in the West today, certainly diverges from the yogic practices of ancient India. Yoga is a popular exercise that combines breathing, movement, and meditation. Imported to the United States from India over a century ago, yoga has long been praised for its physical and spiritual benefits.
Research shows yoga can help manage stress, ease depression and anxiety, improve mood, and enhance the quality of sleep. In addition, yoga has been shown to increase flexibility, improve balance and coordination, reduce pain, and increase strength. This adds to the modern-day support of yoga, as it is seen for its health benefits rather than it’s spiritual practices.
Protection Against Spirits
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.Ephesians 6:12
In the book of Ephesians, chapter six, Paul strictly says that humanity should not wrestle against their own flesh and blood, but against the evil principalities in all the dark, high, and spiritual places. Our enemy is not other humans. Humanity’s enemy is the demonic spirits of this world. These demonic influences are seeking to harm a person’s spiritual life.
If a believer engages spiritually in yoga, the Holy Spirit of God will give that person the discernment to know the differences between good and evil spirits. There are fallen angels and demonic spirits, however, there’s also the Holy Spirit. We want to seek a relationship with the Holy Spirit of God, not the fallen angels and different types of evil spirits.
Do Demon Possessions Still Happen?
Yes, there is a possibility of demons to possess, oppress people, and to have some kind of influence over people’s lives. If you open the door and invite spirits into your life, you are welcoming them, and the spirits are going to come in and they are going to aspire to influence you.
These evil spirits have evil principalities that are always going to be seeking to influence you to do things that are sinful and not Christ-honoring, or they will do actions in your life that could potentially wreak havoc on you in the physical realm and your spiritual reality. These evil spirits will target you individually, they will aim for your own soul and spirit.
Viewpoints that Agree With Yoga
Is it dangerous? Or is yoga safe for Christians? Maybe Christians should simply avoid certain aspects of yoga. Let’s explore why yoga can be okay for the modern Christian.
Is Yoga Dangerous for Christians?
Not necessarily. Yoga could just be exercise. In today’s culture, yoga can simply be intense stretching. It is just a moment where you can breathe (without an invention to the spirit realm), simply to calm your spirit.
Someone in a gym is not trying to seek and engage in the spiritual realm or be like the Hindu gods. This person is just wanting to calm themselves, stretch, and lose some weight. They are not performing yoga in a spiritual way, but they are participating for their health.
Yoga Styles Christians Should Avoid
The main question that you should be asking yourself is which style of yoga you need to stay away from. Partaking in a style that involves elements, incense, chanting, or anything that has been influenced by the Hindu religion, should be dodged. Below is a list of styles that are in the danger zone and should be avoided.
The three Hindu influenced yoga styles that Christians should avoid are the Vinyasas, Kundalini, and Jivamukti styles. These three types of yoga focus on the spiritual basis of self-healing and meditation on someone other than the Lord. While following these postures, poses, and instructors, someone could be welcoming in evil spirits and other types of spiritual warfare. It would be best to stay away from these classes and tutorials because of the Hindu culture that these styles have originated from.
Safety in Yoga
Doing yoga in more of a spiritual way through meditation, using incense, and chanting mantras can enter you into a danger zone. Be cautious about how you are being active in yoga and be aware of what you are getting yourself into. Yoga could potentially enter the door if practiced properly.
Somethings used to have Paganism origins, which now in the modern-day, are probably pretty safe and something you don’t really have to worry about. There are two different categories:
Safe- Clearly positive. Events and interactions that are black and white that Christians should clearly stay away from.
Unsafe- Clearly negative. Activites that followers of Christ should stay away from which blends into society today.
By the time that we get into the modern world, we should ask ourselves what the roots are and how they could be effective today. Is the activity that you are about to partake in unholy, in a spiritual way?
Pursuing these reasons for yoga is nothing spiritual. No one is trying to invite spirits or try to enter into that realm.
When participating in yoga, here is a list of safe attributes:
- Muscle strength
However, it is plausible for yoga to be dangerous if you are doing yoga the way others have been practicing it for centuries (especially in the Hindu cultures). Just because you leave that country, does not mean that you are safe and the spirits can not influence you. If you are participating in yoga that feels more spiritual, then you are entering into a grey area.
Here’s a list of activities to stay away from in yoga:
- Using incense
- Focusing on an idol
Viewpoints that Disagree With Yoga
There are Christians that believe yoga is demonic. Their perspective is describing Christian yoga to be more accurately described as syncretism. This is an attempt to combine two or more contradictory beliefs into a new religious system.
Similarly, the word yoga is problematic. Yoga means “to yoke.” Using the word begs the question, “Yoked to whom?” The postures and techniques of yoga were designed to be offerings to the millions of Hindu gods. But ultimately, yoga was intended to yoke a person to the so-called “Lord of Yoga”
Others believe that since the Israelites were worshipping the golden calf after the exodus from Egypt, they see yoga (the golden buddha) used as the golden calf. It is believed that the Israelites understood the calf as representing a deity other than God, the Father. However, as some scholars note, they likely viewed the calf as a representation of Yahweh. They simply were trying to appropriate the idol worship they had learned in Egypt for the worship of the one, true God.
This seems much like what Christians are doing today with yoga. Christians are not worshipping God in spirit and truth. Instead, they’re trying to worship Him through an idolatrous practice that emerged from a lie about His nature. But, just like God called the Israelites to be separate from the idolatry surrounding them, He calls His believers to do the same today.
So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. But the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book”.Exodus 32: 31,33
Be Cautious Before Taking Action
With everything you do and engage with, make sure that you prayerfully consider what you are doing and if it glorifies God. Also, be objective and open-minded.
Prayerfully consider how are Christians executing and engaging with this activity or event. Ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing resembling the Lord? Am I inviting evil spirits by letting them into my life?”
Be objective about everything. Whether there’s a movie or television show that you watch, a song you sing, or a novel you like to read; prayerfully consider how this is going to impact your life. Always be cautious and stand on guard.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Respect Other Believer’s Convictions
Even though you may or may not like to pursue the activity of yoga, don’t be judgemental to others who do not agree with you. Some people are not comfortable with yoga due to their past. Be loving and respectful toward others who stay away from it. Avoid being the mindset of thinking that they are ignorant or illogical.
In 1 Corinthians, it is stated that if you sin against your conscious, you are sinning against God. If someone is feeling uneasy about doing something spiritual, then they shouldn’t betray their own conscious. So, if your conscious feels uncomfortable with something, don’t pursue the activity. Even if you can not rationally explain it or have an objective fact. Don’t go against your own inclination.
Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.1 Corinthians 8:12