Although yoga has become part of our Western culture, it is a subtle and complex phenomenon. The word yoga means ”yoke” or ”union” and can be described as a spiritual quest to be transformed in order to reach unity of the self and God/the infinite Absolute. The assumption behind yoga is that our self needs to reach that unity to be free from the cycle of suffering and pain of human life, which is the result of our separation from the Absolute. So what to think of yoga?
The first thing we can say is that yoga is originally a spirituality – if not a religion – based on a particular worldview which doesn’t correspond to the biblical understanding of Christianity. As John Piper puts it, the roots of yoga are ”antithetical to a Christian understanding of God and the way he works in the world.”1
The second thing is that yoga is essentially an anthropocentric activity which can actually undermine the sufficiency of Scripture. Indeed, by focusing on themselves instead of God’s Word, people practicing yoga can come to the conclusion that they need another spiritual source other than the Bible to be spiritually transformed, free and eventually saved.
The third thing is that yoga can actually undermine the sufficiency of Christ. There’s indeed not much room for the ”author of life” (Acts 3:15) in the practice of yoga, the principle of which isn’t to focus on him but on ourselves ”where all reality and truth exists.”2
So can Christians do yoga? If you’re a professing Christian, I actually wonder why you would need to do yoga at all. Even if you practice it as a physical activity to stretch and strengthen your muscles, whether you want it or not, you take part in a religious activity and expose yourself to a different spirit than the Spirit of the living God.
So instead of focusing on us, why don’t we spend more time focusing on God and meditating on his Word (Joshua 1:8)? Instead of looking within us to find the truth, why don’t we look to Christ who is the truth (John 14:6) and who promises all who believe in him that they’ll be free from suffering and death in a new creation? What could be more efficient and powerful to be united with God?
2 Walter Martin, The Kingdom of Cults, p. 341