This is in response to a really controversial post that I saw on FaceBook about yoga. It was on a Christian group, and honestly, I really understand both sides, but, after some thought, came up with this. Would love to hear any and all objections/arguments. 🙂
So here’s the basic objection some Christians have against yoga (please correct me if I’m wrong). Yoga has it’s roots in pagan rituals and meditation, i.e. Hinduism/Buddhism. Therefore, yoga is a pagan ritual that, no matter how it’s changed, should not be practiced by Christians. It is like worshiping a pagan god. We have to be really careful about what kind of spiritual influences we let into our lives. Yoga, because of its pagan roots, could be a way for bad spirits to enter our minds/spirits.
I was doing some random mindless work today and I started thinking about this. To me, this seems to be similar to the “food offered to foreign gods” issue that the disciples were dealing with in the New Testament. Basically, in religions like Hinduism or probably a lot of the other religions they had in Jesus’ day, it’s “good luck” to eat food offered to foreign gods. Now, we all know these idols have no power of us. There are demonic forces at work, but we are under Jesus’ protection.
1 Corinthians 8:4-6 “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.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 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.”
Now, from what I see, the NT believers had an issue with this. Some weak believers might eat the food because they still kind of believe in the idols, or because they’re afraid of what their family might think, or they just want to make sure they have good luck. Or if they see strong believers eat the food, they might think that those believers don’t actually believe in God and worship other gods on the side (“cheating” on God, ha ha).
But, the point that Paul makes above is that there are no other gods. That our God is supreme and rules everything. So eating the food is okay, it’s nourishing. But if you can cause another believer to stumble by doing it, or if your hosts think you’re eating it because you believe in the gods, than it becomes wrong.
I think this is the same deal with yoga. Many modern versions of yoga are just stretching and relaxation. Because of that, it’s just something that’s good for the body, not worshiping an idol.
Now, I’ll add a HUGE distinction here. There’s a big difference between the types of yoga depicted in these two pictures:
There are classes that emphasis the traditional spiritual aspects of yoga. These can be questionable, especially when the teachers are Hindu or Buddhist. India is filled with these, tagging off of the tourists that come on pilgrimages of sorts to the land of Buddha and Hinduism. This is the type that the first picture depicts. But the classes that are simply stretching, with a focus on building your core, are fine, in my opinion.
However, as always, if you are doing it to get the blessing of a god besides the True God, or if going to a yoga class would stumble a fellow believer, it’s definitely wrong. 🙂
If I’m missing something here, please let me know! This is just my opinion based on what I’ve learned. 🙂