You are currently viewing Is Yoga A Religious Practice? | What Is The Christian View Of Yoga?

Is Yoga A Religious Practice? | What Is The Christian View Of Yoga?

The Christians view on Yoga varies in terms of cultures, places, environment, rituals, and practice. It also depends whether you view yoga spiritually or as a form of mind-body exercise. Hence, yoga’s perspective in the eyes of Christians, as far as practicable, is influenced by spiritual beliefs or health and fitness outlook, as the case may be. In this discussion, we will center on spiritual beliefs and how yoga practice will be viewed in this light. Hence, the query: What is the Christian view of Yoga?

Physically or mentally, the practice of yoga may be beneficial. Physically, its relaxation technique can lessen chronic pain. Mentally, it can help a person manage stress since it has devastating effects on the body and mind. It is done through a combination of poses, practice of posture, and control of breathing and meditation.

Yoga originated in India about the fifth century before Christ. It then hit the western fitness scene around 2000. Thus, it was said that yoga practice is rooted in Hinduism. Since Yoga is known for meditation, or incorporation of the body to spirit, questions were raised regarding Yoga and Christianity.

Is yoga a religious practice?

The answer to this will hinge upon the culture and the setting from whence yoga is being practiced and observed. Since it has its etymology in India, which practices Hinduism, as a form of unification with the supreme being, yoga has become one of its vehicles to attain such connection.

Consequently, in this manner, yoga may be classified as a religious practice. However, for those who believes that yoga helps them to attain optimal fitness, the same may be regarded as a health activity. Thus, again, it would depend.

What is the Christian perspective of yoga, and Why Does it Matter?

Originally, the practice of yoga was taught in ancient Indian texts, and three major religions, namely:

  • Hinduism
  • Buddhism
  • Jainism

To Hindus, yoga is an important part of achieving their ultimate goal, which is unity with God and freedom from the cycle of birth and death.

The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) explains that yoga consists of four types, namely:

  • devotion
  • knowledge
  • action
  • concentration

Question about Christians engaging in Yoga is one intricate since people practice it differently which varies among the context of cultures. Yoga has been a controversial practice among Western Christians.

However, a Catholic church in India, just recently, issued a statement, countering the notion that Christianity and yoga are compatible alongside each other. It says that:

“Even though yoga brings positive benefits, it cannot unite a person in a closer relationship with God,”


“There is danger in interpreting the results obtained through yoga practice as spiritual benefits. Hindu leaders also do not agree in presenting yoga as separate from Hindu religion.”

Varied Beliefs

Most Christians just enjoy the unique stretches, poses and posture. Some Christians even meditate on God’s Word or His holiness while stretching.

The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) explains that this practice is not truly yoga; rather, it is asana. Asana refers to the poses involved with yoga.

The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) says that  Asana is modern day yoga which merely remains at the level of physical exercise. Done without understanding, faith or intention, without insight, wisdom, and proper guidance from a guru.

The practice of yoga alone is a good thing. It provides us with great health benefits, clearer vision, and harmony in our souls.

Respecting Beliefs

Whether we be Christians, Muslims, or Buddhists, we must not disrespect the feelings and thoughts of others, their rights to practice as they wish, or try to push our views down other people’s throats. To live in harmony with the other religions and other people. A mutual respect to live with.

How to see the benefits of yoga in Christian perspective?

Albert Mohler addressed this question in his article, “The Subtle Body — Should Christians Practice Yoga?” He said that:

“When Christians practice yoga, they must either deny the reality of what yoga represents or fail to see the contradictions between their Christian commitments and their embrace of yoga. The contradictions are not few, nor are they peripheral.”

While some Christians do not care much about the benefits of yoga in their viewpoint, other Christians look out deeply about it. Since the Christianity, theoretically, originated in western countries, their take is pompous.

For Western Christians, the religious history and significance of yoga do not prevent them from practicing it. Practicing yoga, or asana, has no religious meaning to them, neither does it enhance their Christian faith. Thus, yoga class became common to Christians.

On the other hand, a protestant Christian, Dean Broyles, the National Center for Law & Policy’s (NCLP) president and chief counsel says, that Protestant Christianity tends to focus on beliefs and words, rather than any physical practice or experience.

For Christians, yoga or asana can offer restoration time and reflection for the people which is very much needed by those who are over-stressed and burdened.

Many Christians use their yoga time to meditate on a passage of Scripture or the bible or to focus on a simple prayer. This physical aspect is something that tends to be missing in Western Christianity, especially for those of us who neglect fasting and find it difficult to raise our hands in worship.

Yoga Benefits In Christian Viewpoint

Today, many believe that Hindu spirituality and exercises can be separated. Also, Hindu’s spirituality in yoga can be replaced with Christian’s spirituality. In fact, there is so-called “Holy Yoga” which is now practiced in dozens of churches nationwide and is broadcast around the world.

Yoga literally means “to yoke.” Thus, in analysis, question now is “yoke to whom?” Originally, the postures and techniques of yoga were designed to be offerings to the millions of Hindu gods. Examples are:

This is a series of positions designed to greet Surya, the Hindu Sun God

  • Cobra Pose, also called Bhujangasana

The Hindu idea “the spirit-snake power (kundalini) that is activated and elevated in the body by means of yoga. It is also associated with Patanjali, who is depicted as a hybrid man-snake.

  • Warrior Poses which is also known as Virabhadrasana

It depicts a myth that is about a bloody “family feud,” the central character being the deity Virabhadra, an incarnation of Shiva; and

  • Half Spinal Twist

This is a yoga pose which is also known as Lord of Fish or Matsyendrasana. Named for the Hindu “guru and medieval co-founder of hatha yoga who learned the secrets of Tantric yoga and occult arts while in a fish’s belly.” But in the end, yoga was intended to yoke a person to the so-called “Lord of Yoga.”

As Christians, everything we do should be for God’s glory and that includes exercise. Christians tend to link their own faith, disregarding the faith of Hinduism, in their journey of practicing yoga.

Holy Yoga is a great example of this — a place that acknowledges that our bodies and our spirits are linked. It uses the physical shapes made popular through yoga to allow people to connect worshipfully and spiritually to God through their exercise.

Christians should apply the same principles to yoga. In the same way, doing the same is an opportunity to utilize our bodies to glorify God, to meet with Him through physical exercise, and maybe to share the good news of Jesus to the person next to us in the yoga class.

Since yoga is about meditating and concentration, Christians should better yet meditate, concentrate, and contemplate with God.


To achieve the benefits of yoga or asana and meditating in-depth, incorporating it with the scriptures of the bible is imperious. As stated in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God,” yoga can provide the time, space, and structure for Christians to be still and focus our attention on God’s presence with us.

In 1 Corinthians 10:23:

“’I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive.”

Indeed, there is freedom in the Christian faith because our God has always been the God who looks at the heart.

“…The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart,” 1 Samuel 16:7.

In the nature of Christianity, their source of guidance is in the Holy Spirit. Christians have an extremely helpful resource in the Holy Spirit. Thus, Christians may seek the Holy Spirit in deciding whether to practice yoga as asana, or to refrain from engaging in it.

They may also seek the Holy Spirit in judging those Christians who practice them or not. As in 1 Corinthians 8:9:

“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.”

Leave a Reply