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The Mailbag: Should Christians do yoga?

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Should Christians do yoga? What about Holy Yoga or other “Christianized” forms of yoga?

Before I give my answer to this question, I’d like to ask a couple of questions.

Have you ever heard anyone ask the question, “Should Christians do aerobics/zumba/spinning?”

Ever heard of Holy Weight Lifting, Christian Calisthenics, Redeemed Running or another “Christianized” version of a particular form of exercise?

There’s a reason for that.

If you’ve ever participated in youth or Christian school activities with a dress code, a rule of thumb that’s frequently used to help kids determine whether a particular outfit is too short, too low-cut, etc., is, “If you have to ask, it’s probably not appropriate.”

I think the same thing could be said about yoga.

The reason the question “Should Christians do yoga?” is even being asked is because there’s doubt in the minds of the Christians asking the question that yoga is kosher with God.

That’s a healthy doubt because yoga is a Hindu worship practice.

Hindu Swami Parham on the Hinduism of yoga and why Christians shouldn’t participate

Now, before we go any further, let’s just let that sink in a minute. This activity is used by a pagan religion for worshiping false gods. Would you, as a Christian, participate in any other pagan religious activities used for worshiping false gods? Would you participate in Mormon baptism for the dead? Have a shrine to Buddha in your home? Take part in the fast of Ramadan, one of the five pillars of Islam?

No? What if the water the Mormons use had some special property that soothed your eczema? What if the kids started behaving better every time you set up the Buddha shrine? What if you lost weight while fasting during Ramadan? Would those benefits make participating in pagan religious practices OK even if, in your heart, you were only doing it for the benefits and not actually worshiping those false gods?

No, it would not. Neither is participating in yoga for the health benefits. Not convinced? Give the Old Testament another read.

Time and again, the Israelites were chastised and judged by God for idolatry. And not just full-blown idol worship, but all the steps leading up to it. It was not OK with God that they participated in a “Judaized” form of golden calf worship. When Israel entered the Promised Land, God told them to utterly destroy every last vestige of idol worship. It didn’t matter that they had no intention at the time of worshiping those false gods. Israelites were not to marry foreigners lest they be tempted to idolatry. God didn’t give any special permission to marry foreigners to those who promised not to worship the pagan gods of their spouses, He just said “don’t”.  The first two – one fifth – of the Ten Commandments are prohibitions against idolatry. And there aren’t any instances in the Bible of God being fine with his people “Christianizing” idol worship.

This is not a God who’s OK with His people dabbling in paganism.

This is the God who loves us so much He sent His Son to be tortured to death for our sin so that we might be clothed with His righteousness, be saved from an eternity in hell, and inherit eternal life.  Doesn’t He deserve better than sons and daughters who want to justify their involvement, at any level, in a religion that, ultimately, worships Satan? Doesn’t He deserve our highest, unsullied loyalty- a devotion that says, “I’m willing to give up anything that doesn’t please You, no matter the cost to me.”?

Yoga isn’t the only game in town. Let’s choose something else. Something that allows us to exercise, and worship God, with a clean conscience.


Additional Resources:

What is the Christian view of yoga? at Got Questions

What is holy yoga? at Got Questions

The Subtle Body – Should Christians Practice Yoga? by Al Mohler

“Christian” Yoga? at Sola Sisters (several additional resources included in this article and on this site- type “yoga” in the search bar)

Yoga at Christian Answers for the New Age

Yoga at Berean Research (many additional resources here)

Holy yoga – What is it? at Compelling Truth

Personal Trainer– One of my readers is a personal trainer. Beth says: “As a Christian Personal Trainer and former yoga practitioner for 30 years, I offer a better way to get the physical benefits of yoga. Stretching, Pilates and Core Strength Training are all wonderful alternatives to yoga. I’ve designed a CORE Strength Training Class to replace yoga if anyone is interested in learning about my class. I did my research and prayed about yoga for the past few years and felt convicted by the Holy Spirit to leave the practice behind me because of its direct ties to Hinduism.”


If you have a question about: a well known Christian author/leader, a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

15 thoughts on “The Mailbag: Should Christians do yoga?”

  1. Hi, Michelle: I’m curious how you would handle the objection that “Paul said it’s okay to eat meat sacrificed to idols, and this is the same type of thing.” A prominent woman in our church operates a Christian Yoga studio, and it’s very popular among many of my friends…they see it as “redeeming” the physical practice by devoting it to Jesus.

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    1. The “eating meat sacrificed to idols” thing (1 Corinthians 8) would be more along the lines of: it’s OK to wear yoga pants or use a yoga mat for doing sit ups or take an aerobics class in the same room in the gym that’s used for yoga at other times. None of those things are imbued with evil spirits just because they have passing contact with yoga.

      Participating in yoga itself, however, would be analagous to going into the pagan temple and participating in the sacrifice of the meat to the idol, because yoga itself is an act of worship to a pagan deity regardless of what’s in your heart at the time.

      If I were talking to your friend, I would ask her to take me to the Scripture, chapter and verse, that says Christians are supposed to take pagan worship practices and “redeem” them by devoting them to Jesus. She won’t find one. Jeroboam tried “redeeming” golden calf worship in 1 Kings 12, by saying the golden calves were God and having the people transfer all their feasts and worship of God over to the golden calves. God was not pleased with that in any way.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely superb response, Michelle! As much as I’ve blogged on this topic myself, not to mention all the articles I’ve read, this taught me things I’d never considered. I’ll use the video tomorrow with a link back to this post.

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  3. I am new to your blog and I am enjoying it very much. Thank you for this post. I have Christian friends that do not believe me when I try to explain to them why they should not do yoga. This will be very helpful to me when I talk with them.

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  4. Thank you for your post. This is something I am struggling with (and blogging about) myself. What are your thoughts on ministries like Praise Moves or WholyFit?

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    1. Hi CAS-

      I am not familiar with those. If they are seeking to take yoga itself, a Hindu worship practice, and “redeem” or “Christianize” it, I would say that’s unbiblical. There’s nowhere in Scripture that says taking a pagan worship practice and sticking God’s name on it is OK. In fact the preponderance of Scripture says doing that is NOT ok. If it’s some sort of stretching exercise that’s totally unrelated to yoga or any attempt to Christianize or redeem yoga, I wouldn’t see a problem with it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi michelle,
    I just saw this post on facebook since someone shared it and I have to say I’m really disappointed in your approach. I am a Christian woman and I am “Mormon” but you are suggesting to your readers that my religion is not Christian when in fact we are a very Christ centered church. Furthermore, I feel that you could have gotten your point across in a more Christian manner. It does no good to put down other religions. Christ loved everyone! He loves you, me, Jews, Buddhists, pagans, atheists, EVERYONE! I do hope that now that you have been informed that “mormons” are in fact Christian’s that you will do the right thing and fix your blog post so that you do not continue to misinform others. Thank you!

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    1. Jeni- I can understand that this may be difficult for you to hear, and I do empathize, but Mormons are not Christians because Mormons do not place their faith in the Jesus of the Bible. He is not the spirit brother of Lucifer conceived by a sexual act between God and Mary. The gospel is not “I do my best and Jesus does the rest.” People do not become gods after they die and inherit their own planets. There is no such thing as telestial, terrestrial, and celestial degrees of glory. You cannot get baptized on behalf of the dead and change their eternity. None of that is biblical, and there is so much more Mormon doctrine that is patently opposed to the Bible. Joseph Smith established Mormonism because he said all Christian churches were apostate! In fact, Mormons did not start saying they were Christians until around the 1970s because of this. What Joseph Smith did was to fashion an idol to his own liking and then, instead of picking a unique name for it like Ba’al or Buddha or Zeus, he decided to use a name that was already taken: Jesus.

      Mormonism preaches another Jesus and another gospel, and Galatians 1:6-9 says anyone who does that is “accursed” or damned. That is certainly not a description of Christians who are not condemned (Romans 8:1).

      Christ does love everyone. He loves all of us so much that He humbled Himself and became a man- 100% God and 100% man at the same time. He lived the perfect, sinless life that you and I could never live and then He was crucified for our sin (including the sin of idolatry which is what Mormonism and all the other religions you listed practice). He took the punishment you and I deserve for our sin so that we would not have to spend an eternity in Hell taking that punishment ourselves. Anyone who repents (has the heart desire to turn away) from her sin – all of it, including the idolatry of false religion – and places her faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as the payment for the penalty for her sin can be saved. That is the gospel that saves, not what’s taught in Mormon doctrine.

      I urge you to cry out to God in repentance and trust the Christ of the Bible to save you.

      Am I Really Saved? A First John Check-Up

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