ASK BOB: “Can a Christian practice yoga?”

Occasionally people ask my opinion on various personal or church issues. I recently received the following question which I have reprinted below, followed by my response.

QUESTION

Bob,  

Can one practice yoga very superficially, as in, using it solely as a source for stretching for athleticism, and still be a steadfast Christian? I have been an athlete for many years, and as I have aged, my body has required more attention to stretching and maintenance outside of the gym. I recently took up hot yoga, but am having a hard time getting comfortable with the Hindu/Buddhist origin of yoga. I don’t participate in the “om” and the Namaste parts of the classes, and use the quiet time to pray instead of trying to make it some sort of out-of-body experience. Could you shed some light on practicing yoga and it not praising other Gods?

 

MY ANSWER

I have two friends who are in their sixties who have benefited from hot yoga.  They are both strong Christians and are not influenced by Hindu or Buddhist teachings.  To me, Yoga can be compared to the practice of eating meat that had been sacrificed to pagan idols in Bible times. Some Christians felt by eating the meat they were participating in or endorsing idol worship. Other believers felt since idols were not gods at all they were free to eat meat that had been sacrificed to them, especially since it was apparently offered on the market at a cheaper price.

Romans 14:2-3 tells us we are free to make up our own minds about such matters of opinion.  “One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.”

I have a great deal of respect for Dr. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Seminary. He has a difference of opinion on the subject of Yoga. Dr. Mohler contends that yoga cannot be fully extricated from its spiritual roots in Hinduism and Buddhism.  Below is a link to an article he wrote on the subject explaining his position. I hope you’ll read it to get a second opinion. Then I think you are free to make up your own mind.

– Bob

For additional reading and differing opinion on this matter check out:  The Subtle Body — Should Christians Practice Yoga? – Dr. Albert Mohler
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