The Yoga Debate

I watched this 6 minute video clip at Alex's place and came away from it wondering why Christian's do the full yoga experience. I understand the exercise part but don't quite get the other parts. Maybe someone can help me out.


  1. I've heard all the arguments, and the two pastors make the points pretty well. The "pro" pastor says, "I've never known anyone who's had a negative experience from yoga." Yeah, well my ex's journey away from Christianity started with yoga and ended in the total new age rejection of everything about Christ. It really does happen.

    In my opinion, yoga is another expression of you-theism, the theology that says, "If it makes you feel better, it's good for you. If it's good for you, it's true."

    Yoga was designed to create a spiritual experience for followers of other gods. That was and is its purpose. That it can be used other ways is a you-theistic bonanza, but not a Christian blessing. It's possible to do yoga without engaging in anything spiritual, but done well and done naturally, yoga is a deceitful spiritual experience.

    The thing is, the same applies to "Christian" centering prayer, and it's hard to get anyone to question that. Centering prayer was developed by spiritual enemies of God and ported over to Christianity by the new age movement. It works. It's "good for you." So, it's you-theistic practitioners naturally conclude, "It's true."

    I believe the problem is not with yoga or centering prayer, but with you-theism.

  2. I guess I mess (as in mess up) with everything new-age...I do some yoga because it is good for my bones and joints. Every move I make, though, I concentrate and pray on Yahweh. I talk to Jesus--He is right in front of me. Same with Tai Chi. Same with my acupuncture. My Muslim, Chinese doctor was working on a shoulder and asked me about joy in my life...and she said, "That's what the Book tells us, right?" She wasn't talking about the Quran...she was talking Bible.
    I thought that was cool. Am I being led astray? Don't think so...CP's right. You-theism is the problem...and churches today are chock-full of it. I had a massage therapist at a hotel once work and listen to me as I suddenly started talking about the freedom of Christ...turns out she was a Buddhist who had been burned by churches. She said, "I've never heard about Jesus like that. Maybe there's a reason you started first I rolled my eyes. Thank you. I'll look again." It wasn't me who started that conversation.
    Maybe we can be the leaders. Maybe we show the True love of Jesus in everything we do.

  3. Two great comments so far.. both have real life experiences with yoga.

    Maybe it depends on whether you see yoga as a tool to be used or a philosophy to be embraced.

    Maybe yoga can be helpful to some and harmful to others?

    Maybe it is not a black and white issue.. maybe it a tad gray?

    A lot of maybes.. look forward to hearing more!

  4. personally I wouldn't touch it (but, be honest, I'm not the sort of person who finds any exercise programme tempting!) but, having watched various people get into it over the years, my gut feeling is that if you just use it purely as an exercise programme, and don't embrace the other side of it (which can be touted as "relaxation") it's probably pretty safe (unless you strain a muscle, of course!). But so many people swallow the whole system undiscerningly, and that, I believe, is dangerous.

  5. Hi Bob,

    I will say it isn't the exercises, but the spiritual aspects that we need to be aware and beware of. I've taken T'ai Chi classes that were not immersed in the philosophy and found them relaxing and enjoyable. As for centering, considering how many of us are overwhelmed and simply can not compartmentalize our lives, quieting the mind is something we need to learn.

    Satan has a way of wrapping a kernel of good in layers and layer of his the way some of us Christians have buried some of the best things about our faith in the trappings of tradition that has nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. We are also good at throwing the baby out with the bath water...for instance, refusing to celebrate Advent because that's what "those people" do.

    Personally I am not a big fan of McArthur. To me, he represents that part of Calvinism that I find too close to the philosophy of the Pharisees for my liking. McArthur denies the gift of prophecy and yet dabbles in making predictions that appear prophetic in nature. I do not hold McArthur in contempt, but I strongly disagree with much of the tradition he clings to so tightly.

  6. I find yoga and centering prayer both beneficial to my spiritual walk. I used to leave church and go directly to yoga class on Sunday morning and used it as a continuation of my worship experience.

    If you're scared of yoga, stay away from it. But, I really don't need anyone warning me about it.

    For those who are worried about borrowing from false religions, make sure you stay away from the book "Pagan Christianity?" I think you'd be very upset when you find out just how much the Christianity we practice today has "borrowed" from pagans.

  7. My church discourages both yogic spiritual practices and the wrong kind of centering prayer. The wrong kind? Oh, yes: centering prayer can sometimes be an attempt to "empty" oneself, which might initially sound good: purging greed, anger, selfishness. But what's the goal - an "empty hole?" Don't we understand instead that we have an immortal soul, known by God from the beginning, filled with His Grace and His Law? That the soul is the throne of Jesus Christ?

    (Besides, who wants a "swept and garnished" empty space, purged of evil spirits, to serve as an invitation for them to return and bring more with them?)

    Also, and not to pick on you, Brian, but your extremely agile brain keeps raising lots of intensely-discussed issues, I disagree strongly that Christianity *borrowed* anything from paganism!

    When the world was being Christianized, the missionaries found pagan practices much beloved by the people and they "enculturated" what they could, as teaching tools, to get to know the Creator through His Creation.

    Perfect example now in this time of year: the story of St. Boniface (a German saint who lived in the 600's). Snipped and adapted from another website:

    According to tradition, when he chopped down the pagan Thor's Oak at Geismar (and wowed the pagans because their gods didn't lay a glove on him), Boniface claimed a tiny fir tree growing at its base as the new Christian symbol. He told the heathen tribes:
    "This humble tree's wood is used to build your homes: let Christ be at the centre of your households.
    Its leaves remain evergreen in the darkest days: let Christ be your constant light.
    Its boughs reach out to embrace and its top points to heaven: let Christ be your comfort and your guide."
    So the fir tree became a sign of Christ amongst the German peoples, and eventually it became a world-wide symbol of Christmas.

    It's kind of like the right kind of centering prayer: if you "empty" the pagan practice only to find the truth originally left there by the Creator, you have a treasure.

  8. Therese,

    I'm a little confused. You say Christianity borrowed nothing from paganism then give a prime example of a symbol taken directly from the pagans and used in Christian ritual. Are you not just playing with words? Most Christians believe that the many things they practice not only at Christmas but literally every Sunday were originated by Christians and would be shocked to learn that their origins were really with the pagans. Some modern Christians have a "not invented here" attitude. Basically anything not originally Christian cannot be any good. But, they have this attitude all the while doing many, many things that did not originate with Christianity.

    Much of Christian ritual and tradition were things that we borrowed or "enculturated" from the pagan cultures we were trying to teach. But, getting back to yoga, just because another group of people did it before Christians makes it neither right or wrong, good or bad. For me, will not judge yoga as an exercise (physical or spiritual) based on the fact that it was first done by Hindus. I have found yoga quite useful for both my physical and spiritual well being as have a number of other Christians.


  9. No, Christian ritual is not borrowed from paganism. Communion is not pagan; believing that Christ rose from the dead is not pagan. Believing that God is three persons in one God is not pagan. Those truths came from God, directly.

    Enculturating a Christmas tree from pagan practices is only picking up teaching tools, not assembling a faith from pieces of pagan practice. We don't worship the tree, we don't require a tree as a dogma of the faith, which must be believed. It's a symbol, and many symbols have been freely borrowed from the cultures Christianity finds itself in.

    But baptism, communion, anointing with oil for healing - those are God-breathed.

  10. Therese,

    I guess I wasn't clear. I didn't mean to imply that all Christian theology is "borrowed" or derived from paganism, but that many rituals and traditions that were part of the surrounding pagan cultures were incorporated into Christian rites and traditions and most Christians accept them as always having been Christian. You gave a prime example of the Christmas tree. If Christians are going to disregard yoga because it was first done by Hindus, to be consistent, shouldn't they disregard all things "pagan"?

    Personally, I think G-d reveals G-dself to Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists, etc. I don't think that any tradition, ritual, practice whatever should be rejected because of its origins. I have no problems with the rituals Christians have adapted from the surrounding culture, nor do I have any problem with yoga. I only pointed out the Christian borrowing because those who would say yoga is bad because of its origins might have a real problem staying consistent with that logic if they knew the origins of some of their own rituals and traditions.


  11. For one attempting to present a Christian flavor of Yoga, consider:

    Pagit is an interesting pastor. I don't agree with all of his ideas. I think he goes too far sometimes.

    And MacArthur, he is an evil, incredibly arrogant and egotistical man. Satan must delight in John MacArthur's because people hear him and think that the stuff he spews is Christianity. He inoculates people against the Gospel of grace. He claims to proclaim grace, but it's all bait-and-switch. Few Christian leaders today are bigger proponents of pharisaism than he. People who have escaped from his church culture are clear that the spiritual abuse in his church is devious, pernicious, and pervasive.

  12. "If Christians are going to disregard yoga because it was first done by Hindus, to be consistent, shouldn't they disregard all things "pagan"?"

    Agreed. As long as they don't let the meditative aspect of yoga replace their prayer relationship with their Creator. I think we agree on that, too.

    Phew. We agree. I like agreeing.

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  14. Therese,

    I like agreeing too. :)

    I don't know why Christians would allow yoga to replace their prayer time. However, prayer is not always about talking (as I'm sure we'd agree). I find prayer much more beneficial when I spend time listening. Yoga is a great way to listen.

    When people talk about "emptying" themselves, the goal is not to become a spiritual zero. We cannot hear from the Holy Spirit (a still small voice) with a bunch of noise and the endless stream of thought, worry, etc, most of us have no clue how to turn off. Meditative practices give us the opportunity to get quiet and hear from G-d. I think of the line from scripture (Be still and know I am G-d). The operative word "still"- quiet.


  15. "When people talk about "emptying" themselves, the goal is not to become a spiritual zero. We cannot hear from the Holy Spirit (a still small voice) with a bunch of noise and the endless stream of thought, worry, etc, most of us have no clue how to turn off. Meditative practices give us the opportunity to get quiet and hear from G-d. I think of the line from scripture (Be still and know I am G-d). The operative word "still"- quiet."



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