The church John and I belong to practices the pubic reading of Scripture by going through a book of the Bible consecutively. Currently we’ve been reading 1 Corinthians. I find that, surprisingly often, the Lord deepens my understanding of a passage as I listen to my pastor read it aloud. Yesterday, in fact, the passage he read made me think about so-called Christian yoga.
14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? ~~1 Corinthians 10:14-22 (ESV)
Although there are other people teaching “Christian” yoga, Holy Yoga (founded by Brooke Boon) is probably the organization that best represents the movement. Holy Yoga makes no separation between the physical and spiritual dimensions of yoga, but rather they proudly tout their practice as an avenue of worship.
As evidence of my claim, look at the following quote from their website (I provide this link only as substantiation):
Holy Yoga is an experiential worship created to deepen people’s connection to Christ. Our sole purpose is to facilitate a Christ honoring experience that offers an opportunity to believers and non-believers alike to authentically connect to God through His Word, worship, and wellness. Holy Yoga exists to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth through the modality of yoga.
Without embarrassment, then, proponents of Holy Yoga openly admit that they believe yoga enhances their worship of Christ.
But it doesn’t take much research to discover that yoga comes from Hinduism. According to the Hindu Wisdom website :
Yoga is an integral part of the Hindu religion. There is a saying: “There is no Yoga without Hinduism and no Hinduism without Yoga.” The country of origin of Yoga is undoubtedly India, where for many hundreds of years it has been a part of man’s activities directed towards higher spiritual achievements. The Yoga Philosophy is peculiar to the Hindus, and no trace of it is found in any other nation, ancient or modern. It was the fruit of the highest intellectual and spiritual development. The history of Yoga is long and ancient. The earliest Vedic texts, the Brahmanas, bear witness to the existence of ascetic practices (tapas) and the vedic Samhitas contain some references, to ascetics, namely the Munis or Kesins and the Vratyas.
Furthermore, and more to the point of my article today, yoga poses aren’t spiritually neutral. Whether a Christian practices Holy Yoga or does it “just for exercise,” she needs to understand that each of those poses was originally developed for the purpose of worshiping a corresponding Hindu deity or sacred person.
Whilst many of the yoga postures we see today are influenced by nature, inspired by trees (Vrksasana), the moon (Ardha Chandrasana), or even birds (Bakasana), there are also postures which depict the deities revered in Yogic and Hindu culture. As a way of connecting to, revering and paying respect to deities, many yoga postures represent not just what the deity looks like, but also everything they stand for. As we practise the posture, we put our focus on the energy and essence of the deity and look to embody their qualities. (Source)
This final quote brings us back to 1 Corinthians 10:14-22, doesn’t it? Christians who practice yoga certainly don’t intend to engage in the worship of Hindu gods any more than the Christians in First Century Corinth meant to participate in Greek idol worship. But the two situations mirror each other so closely that we dare not ignore Paul’s words. In assuming yoga poses, Christians unwittingly worship demons.
As Christians, let’s remember that we belong exclusively to the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s not unfaithfully worship in any manner that causes us to inadvertently worship anything but Him.