Yoga and the Christian

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT)

Like many people, I took Yoga classes and used Yoga videos.  But one day when I was putting in my Yoga tape, I heard the still, small voice say, “Stop.” 

Now I had just learned to recognize this voice, but I was still uncertain.  Did I really just hear that?  Or was it my imagination?  A few weeks before, that same small voice had told me to put my purse away – and I didn’t – and it was stolen.  I had been praying that I would begin to hear the Holy Spirit nudge me again, like when I was a child, and then, when He did, I had ignored Him. 

I didn’t want to ignore Him again, but I also didn’t understand why He would say, “Stop.”  Stop what?  Stop stretching?  Stop exercising?  Do something else? 

I put the tape away and did something else and forgot about it.  Later that week I went to my Yoga class but I felt uneasy.  Was I not supposed to be doing this?  Why?  The following week I got out my tape, put it on, and began asking God, “What did you mean, ‘Stop’?  It is just stretching!”  But I felt uneasy, so I took out the tape and put on my Callanetics tape instead. 

I stopped attending Yoga classes, but I held onto my tapes, even when I moved, though I never again used them.  Then one Sunday at church a Taiwanese friend mentioned that Christians shouldn’t be doing Yoga.  I wanted to know WHY.  She told me that each pose is an offering to a Hindu god or goddess, and that people often do it in front of a particular god’s statue (an idol).

Acts 15:28-29 (NKJV) states:  For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell. (emphasis mine)

George P. Alexander, Ph.D. who grew up in India, the birthplace of Hinduism and Yoga, and later taught World Religions at Biola University said, “Yoga poses are offerings to the 330 million Hindu gods.”
  • In Hinduism, the Sun Salutation pose is designed to greet “lord” Surya, the Hindu Sun God. 
  • The three Warrior poses depict a myth about a violent family feud with an incarnation of “Shiva, the lord of Yoga, the destroyer.”  Shiva is also known as the god of Death. (The Bible tells us that Satan is also called the Destroyer.)
(I paraphrased these three aforementioned definitions from the article Is it Okay for Christians to Practice Yoga?

I was pretty shocked.  I thought I was only stretching.  I went home and finally threw away my tapes.  I realized that this was serious; that it wasn’t just stretching.

Soon thereafter I heard Laurette Willis, author of BASIC Steps to Godly Fitness (BASIC stands for Body and Soul in Christ, and is a very good book!), on the radio discussing her new workout DVD PraiseMoves, the Christian Alternative to Yoga (not “Christian Yoga.” In fact, the phrase “Christian Yoga” is a contradiction in terms). Here is a 13 minute sample that’s on YouTube. You can also get a sample from her website.

She mentioned that, as a child, she and her mother did Yoga together, and that it led them away from Christianity and into the New Age movement, and even the occult, for 22 years.

You can go to her website and read in depth why Christians shouldn’t be doing Yoga or Tai Chi.  It is very interesting reading, and will probably greatly surprise you.  You can also download her very short, free e-book “The Truth about Yoga: Peaceful Practice or Dangerous Deception?”
Hinduism is the soul of Yoga, based as it is on Hindu scripture, and developed by Hindu sages.”  From the May 2, 2006 Orlando Sentinel, Arumugaswami is quoted as saying, “A Christian trying to adapt these practices will likely disrupt their own Christian beliefs.”  
Sannayasin Arumugaswami, managing editor of Hinduism Today
Her e-book contains quotes from Swamis who call Yoga teachers their missionaries to the western world.  Yoga IS Hinduism.  And they have a church on every corner – the Yoga studio.

She states that there are 150+ stretching and strengthening postures in PraiseMoves, and each one is linked to a scripture verse.  “During The Prize posture, you meditate upon and speak aloud from Philippians 3:13-14, ‘I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.‘ In this way, you are getting more than a physical workout; you are also being transformed by renewing your mind on the Word of God (Romans 12:2) and growing in your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ (the Word of God John 1:1, 14; Rev. 19:13).”

Whereas, Yoga is defined, from The American Heritage® Dictionary, 5th edition, as:
  • One of the branches of the Hindu philosophy, which teaches the doctrines of the Supreme Being, and explains the means by which the human soul may obtain final emancipation from further migrations, and effect a junction with the universal spirit.
Miriam-Webster’s Dictionary says: 
  • A Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation.
Webster’s New World Dictionary:
  • A mystic and ascetic Hindu discipline for achieving union with the supreme spirit through meditation, prescribed postures, controlled breathing, etc.
It’s extra important that, when you’ve been convicted about staying away from Yoga, you never again do the same sequences as what is done in Yoga.

For instance, Sun Salutation has 9 – 12 poses done in order. You do not want to continue doing this sequence, not even when it is done to The Lord’s Prayer, because that is still Yoga which is meant to open you up to psychic impressions – and who is controlling these impressions? If you’ve just done a sequence of worship specifically designed for the Hindu god Surya, don’t think that you are honoring and worshiping Jehovah, the one true God (read Acts 17:19-34)

Yoga Mortis is Yoga done in graveyards. “The signature pose of Yoga Mortis — corpse pose,” says instructor Jessica Woodburn. Since Yoga IS a religious practice, worshiping the god of Death in a cemetery makes complete sense.

Don’t think that substituting the holy name of Jesus during Yoga makes it okay! Jesus himself says in Matthew 7:20-23 (NLT) “Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! … But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’"

Now, I’d pretty much forgotten that I ever did Yoga until we began looking at church websites and I was shocked to see how many churches have a Yoga group at their church building, park or beach.  This is religious pluralism, and it really isn’t okay, Christians.  Remember when Elijah called down fire from heaven? Those people had wanted to worship Yahweh and Baal. Elijah forced them to choose. (1 Kings 18:20-40.) Verse 36 says Elijah did this at God’s command. “Holy Yoga” is not holy to our God.

Swami Param, head of Classical Yoga Hindu Academy in New Jersey, said that if people couldn’t acknowledge the Hindu element of Yoga, they shouldn’t practice it. (Source) Yoga IS Hinduism. All Hindus know this. Why don’t you believe the Hindus when they say that Christianity and Yoga are incompatible?

Can you be a Christian Hindu? A Christian Buddhist? A Christian Wiccan? Can you practice Christian Voodoo? Would you be open to using a Christian Ouiji board? Will you check your Christian Horoscope? Would you visit a Christian medium, and let her read your future with Christian tarot cards and a Christian crystal ball? Yet many people claim to be Christian Yogi’s. Are you serious about your Christian faith? Or do you have “itching ears” and dabble in whatever feels good to you?

James 1:6-8 (NLT) says, “But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.  Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” (emphasis mine)

This type of person isn’t certain that God’s Way, as outlined in His Word, is true (they are “double-minded” as some translations say). They see God’s Word as just another choice; they can ignore it if they find an option they like better. Are you straddling the fence between Christianity and Hinduism? Christianity and Buddhism? Pray for wisdom in this area, as it says in James 1:5, and then re-read verses 6-8.

From Psychology Today (and I encourage you to read the whole article): Christians who initially intend to worship Jesus through yoga may gravitate toward other religious and spiritual traditions. Survey research shows that longer-term yoga practitioners are less likely to identify as “Christian” and more likely to identify as “spiritual but not religious” or “Buddhist.” 

From Yoga Journal:  “The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra.”  (An excellent article about what chakras mean is here. )

The divine spark, or divine Self, or the god within (popular New Age themes), sounds so much like Jesus living in hearts, doesn’t it?  And look, they are using praying hands!  We just say, “Oh, that’s what it means to me, no big deal.” 

But that’s NOT what it means, and it IS a big deal.  A VERY BIG DEAL.

Dr. Willis shows in her e-book that there is a “lord of Yoga” aka “Shiva, The Destroyer” aka “The god of Death” and explains what that means to Yogis and Yoginis (people who practice Yoga – Are you a Yogini?). 
Dr. Willis then asks the question:  What is a practice dedicated to “lord” Shiva, The Destroyer, doing in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Do you remember the first two of the ten commandments listed in Exodus 20:3-5a (NLT)?
You must not have any other god but me. 

You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.
Yoga and Namaste break those commandments. Frankly, I never thought to bring God into my exercise, but I sure am thinking about it now!

And there is so much more.  John Ankerberg has written quite a bit about Yoga’s aims, and talks about the poses, breathing, and Yoga’s goals.  You can access 10 of his articles here

If you just love going off to a Yoga studio, switch to a Pilates studio instead. That’s where many of the people who have left Yoga go.

I used Callanetics for many years because I have scoliosis, and Callan Pinckney developed her exercises to strengthen her bad back. After watching the PraiseMoves sample, I see that the beginning stretches are very similar to some in Callanetics and may even be similar to Yoga because there are only so many ways you can move your body, and we all have to breathe. But I never felt a check in my spirit because there are no poses or special sequences, and while she reminds you to breathe, there is no focus on breath.

When comparing yoga poses on the internet to photos in my Callanetics book, I notice that in Yoga the poses are rigid and many are hyper-extended. I also learned that Yogic poses are not really sound fitness practices (because they are worship stances, not fitness moves). In Callanetics, the exercises are more fluid and loose, and done very slowly so as to not injure the back.

WholyFit is also an alternative to Yoga; it seems to me that it has more of a ballet background. An alternative to Tai Chi is WholyFit SlowFlo. Their website says, “WholyFit IS NOT Christian Yoga and is not associated with Yoga culture, philosophies, religions, or practices… We are committed to RADICAL purity for Christ and separateness from Yoga. WholyFit is a biblically based stretching, strength & flexibility fitness system that strengthens body, mind and spirit.  Good news! You can stretch without Yoga.” The founder’s testimony is here and is really incredible! (I have not yet used these DVDs.) Here is their informative brochure: WholyFit vs Yoga – What Does it Matter, Anyways?

Mike Shreve wrote this article, Stretching the Truth about Yoga, and at the end he endorses both PraiseMoves and WholyFit as “a low-impact exercise approach free from false mystical entrapments.” Mr. Shreve had taught kundalini yoga at four universities and studied under a guru. In his classes he incorporated yoga, meditation, and mantra techniques aimed at experiencing higher supernatural realms. He said, “I was very devoted to the practice of yoga until I had an amazing encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. This pivotal experience revealed to me the vast difference between the biblical approach to God and any methodology offered in Far Eastern religions. Since then, I have never practiced any kind of yoga.”

I also enjoy Lisa Whelchel’s DVD “Workout for the Everyday Woman.” Lisa isn’t the leader – she’s the comic relief. It also is not Yoga, it is low-impact aerobics, but it contains the move “the plank.” Now, I just learned that they do this in Yoga, too. So are we not supposed to do this? No, holding yourself in an isometric or static position like this strengthens you – the majority of people know this position from doing push-ups. But Yogis hold this position far longer than needed, and surprise! that really isn’t good for you. You only need to hold it for 10 seconds. (Source)

Do you realize that Yogic meditation is not equivalent to biblical meditation? It is Transcendental Meditation (T.M.), which teaches the repetition of the names of Hindu gods (mantras) to open you up to the spirit (demonic) realm.

Dr. Laurette Willis of PraiseMoves taught Yoga classes for many years.  She says:  The relaxation and visualization session at the end of yoga classes is skillfully designed to “empty the mind” and can open one up to harmful spiritual influences. As Christians, you are instructed to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2), not the emptying of your mind. Many believe that transformation process occurs as we meditate and feed on the Word of God – renewing our minds by filling them with God’s thoughts, not emptying them or filling them with the prideful thoughts of man.  It seems the enemy has a counterfeit for almost everything the Lord offers. 

Yes, satan has a counterfeit for everything Biblical.  He is constantly telling us to do the opposite of everything in the Bible.

Are you honoring Jesus Christ with your body?  Or Shiva, the “lord” of Yoga, The Destroyer, The god of Death? The Bible tells us Jesus came to give us life, but Satan came to steal, kill, and destroy us. (John 10:10)

This quote from Dr. Willis mirrored my own experience:  Perhaps you have sensed uneasiness while doing yoga (what some call a “check in your spirit”), but you ignored that quiet nudge.  I urge you to pay attention to it.  Jesus Himself said, “…the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice.” (John 10:4-11). 

Seek the Holy Spirit to guide you, and may God bless you as you honor Him.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Psalm 139:23-24
Jessica Smith, author of The Shattering, says: I studied at an ashram in India & lived at a Buddhist Center in Berkeley. I was a certified yoga instructor & master level reiki practitioner when the lens through which I viewed the world was shattered in a moment with a profound experience that revealed to me the dark spiritual reality behind these practices.
I highly suggest you watch her 7 minute story on her website, or her interview with Doreen Virtue, “Why I Stopped Teaching Yoga and Reiki to Follow Jesus.” She is also planning a Christian alternative to Yoga called TrueTone Fitness in the future.

The NY Times reported on a Hindu project called “Take Back Yoga” to educate people that Yoga and Hinduism cannot be separated. There can’t be physical Yoga without spiritual Yoga. In fact, many Hindus find the westernization of Yoga offensive. (NYT article here.)

Yoga Uncoiled DVD is a look into the practice of Yoga in the Church, done by a veteran filmmaker who grew up in India, practiced Yoga, and was later radically saved. You can watch her talks and amazing testimony on YouTube by typing in her name, Caryl Matrisciana.

The Yoga Uncoiled documentary will tell you everything you need to know about Yoga, the “third eye,” “Serpent Power,” and “Kundalini (Cobra) Power.” Yogis will tell you that practicing Yoga awakens this cobra in you that goes up to the brain and awakens your psychic power and your divinity: “he I am” aka “the god within.” They teach we are all gods. NOT Jesus living in our hearts, but that we are co-creators with God and are ourselves divine.

Dave Hunt in Yoga and the Body of Christ tells us that “Yoga’s mystical lie is comparable to the original temptation in Eden. The Serpent’s lie in the Garden of Eden, ‘You will be like God,’ is the heart of Yoga’s goal, in spite of its feeble protests that Yoga is non-religious.”

Carl Jung wrote a book about kundalini and warned against it, saying you could go insane. Gopi Krishna, in his book The Awakening of Kundalini, says Hatha Yoga is dangerous because it can cause kundalini arousal which “typically results in temporary states of insanity, radical changes in the physical body, and possession by a demonic spirit.” 

Hinduism can’t be taken out of Yoga. “Yoga is Hinduism,” says Subhas Tiwari in the film. ALL of Yoga is in complete opposition to Christianity. It cannot be made palatable for Christians by swapping out Hindu terms and putting in Christian ones.

In the film, one Indian man says “You can’t combine two religions” and gives this analogy: A Christian doing Yoga is like a person sitting in a Christian church taking part in the communion service, but instead of worshiping Christ, he worships and says the name of Krishna, who didn’t command his followers to take communion.

Krishna did not die on that cross for you. Neither did Buddha. Jesus Christ did that for you. (If you need to know WHY Jesus died for you, read this article.)

Proverbs 14:12 (AMP) says, “There is a way which seems right to a man and appears straight before him, but its end is the way of death.”

You may not think that your mind is being opened up to other spiritual influences, but Yoga expedites altered states for the mind to access mystical presences. These spiritual guides can manipulate your mind and make you think you are meeting God, or Jesus, and some even have healing powers. Some can make you feel profound emotions of love. Satan can transform himself into a being of light. If you are adamant about not being able to leave Yoga because you love it so much, then you have been spiritually impacted. You have been hooked, and will only be able to escape by repenting and calling on Jesus.

1 Timothy 4:1 (CEV) states: God’s Spirit clearly says that in the last days many people will turn from their faith. They will be fooled by evil spirits and by teachings that come from demons.
If you think Yoga takes you into the presence of God, both Yoga and the Bible tell us differently. Yoga is Self-centered. The Bhagavad Gita says, “Yoga is the journey of the Self, through the Self, to the Self.” Christianity is Christ-centered. The Bible says you can only access God through Jesus Christ. John 14:6 (NLT) tells us, “Jesus told him, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me.'” 
No special breaths. No oms. No mudras. No chants. No sequences. No rituals. No mantras. No special words. No repeating of words. No contemplative prayer. No repetitive prayer. Just ask Jesus to be Lord of your life, repent of your sins, and Jesus will be your direct mediator to God. (1 Timothy 2:5)

Learn about what you are really doing when you do Yoga! Learn the purpose of your poses. Are there idols in your class? You may not recognize them as being idols, even if they are in plain sight. Are you or others scantily dressed? Please watch this: Holy Yoga: Is it Really Christian? Part 1 and Part 2. These videos are very informative and are free on YouTube. Part 2 also shows excerpts from Yoga Uncoiled.

“Holy Yoga” is not holy to our God. Holy means sacred, to be set apart, and “Holy” Yoga is neither sacred nor set apart from regular Yoga. In fact, the founder embraces Hinduism, Buddhism, and New Age practices, which her videos clearly show. Her website says: “Holy Yoga embraces the essential elements of yoga: breath work, meditation and physical postures.” Listening to her is a lesson in how to twist the Scriptures to fit her Yoga worldview. Her rationale is not at all biblical.

Faithful Workouts Yoga say they do Yoga. Christoga is also not okay. Neither is Yahweh Yoga. It is a Yoga school with Yoga Alliance. This means that at Yoga Certification, instructors were directed to chant Sanskrit words that meant they gave their souls “completely to Shiva.”

Wholy Formed (not to be confused with WholyFit) embraces Yoga, and calls The Lord’s Prayer our mantra; they say “Jesus affirmed the 4 ways of enlightenment outlined by the Gurus of India,” and they also redefine the word “holy.” I couldn’t keep reading their website. It really grieved me to see the depravity of their cunning and double-minded rationale. Remember that even Satan himself recited Scripture. Playing hymns and reciting Bible verses do not make Yoga acceptable to God. Look beyond the surface and remember what Jesus said in Matthew 7:20-23!

Will you be participating in Yoga Bare? “How naked Yoga helps improve body image and reduces anxiety…” reports The Sun. What about Perineum sunning? After all, these are ancient Yogic practices, too.

After months of researching Yoga and “Christian” Yoga, I’ve come to realize that Hinduism, Buddhism, and the New Age movement all teach the opposite of what Christ and the Holy Bible teaches us.

2 Corinthians 6:14 (NCV) states: You are not the same as those who do not believe. So do not join yourselves to them. Good and bad do not belong together. Light and darkness cannot share together. 

Mahatma Gandhi, in speaking about our Bible (which greatly impressed him), said, “You Christians look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilisation to pieces, turn the world upside down and bring peace to a battle-torn planet. But you treat it as though it is nothing more than a piece of literature.”

Do you believe the Bible? Do you believe Jesus? Are you a Christian? Do you take it seriously? Joshua 24:15 (NLT) says, “But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.”
May God bless you as you seek to glorify Him, even in your exercise.


For more research on this subject, read this double-spaced 86 page thesis by Injib Kim from 2009, Christian Yoga as a Product of Hinduism and the New Age Movement. If you just read the four page Summary and Conclusion beginning on page 70, you will truly be very enlightened.

Here is a list of how many New Age, New Thought, Occult, and practices from other religions have entered our daily western life and biblically-illiterate churches:

An A-Z List of New Age Practices to Avoid, and Why
20 New Age Practices that are Entering the Church
10 Reasons Why Christianity and the New Age Cannot Blend
Yoga and the Christian Church
Why a Christian Alternative to Yoga? (has lots of pictures to quickly illustrate differences)
A Counterfeit Home
The True Light has stories of former Yoga practitioners, New Agers, and those who came out of Eastern Mysticism, and WHY they left.

1 Timothy 4:8 (CSB): For the training of the body has limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.


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