As yoga has gained in popularity, there’s also plenty of chatter in Christian circles about all the reasons why Christians shouldn’t participate in the practice. As a religious art, yoga is definitely something for Christians to avoid. By practicing it appropriately, however, it’s possible to enjoy all the benefits of yoga while deepening your connection with God.
Benefits of Yoga
There’s plenty of information about the physical benefits of yoga, including:
- Better strength and flexibility
- Improved posture, which can reduce muscle aches and lead to a leaner appearance
- Improved mood
- Raised heart rate
- Lowered blood sugar
- Enhanced balance
- A foundation for a healthy lifestyle
With all these clear health benefits, yoga is an activity that many Christians should enjoy more often! In addition to the physical benefits, yoga practice can increase relaxation, reduce stress, and create a better sense of mind and body connection that can improve many people’s awareness of their body. Improved mood, greater physical strength and flexibility, and better awareness of what’s going on within your body? How can you lose?
The practice of yoga is linked with mindfulness and meditation. In fact, there’s plenty of study on the spiritual laws of yoga. These principles seem, at first, in direct opposition to Christian awareness–but at a deeper level, they link perfectly with what we’re taught through the Bible.
The law of karma states that each action causes a reaction: that is, that the actions we choose create responses. Consider 1 John 4:19, which states, “We love because he first loved us.” God’s action creates a response in us every day. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit causes us to respond, whether through the hardening of our hearts as Pharoah hardened his in Egypt or through opening our hearts in response.
The law of detachment states that it’s unnecessary for us to force things to go our way–that is, that things are coming together to work for our good without unnecessary effort on our part. This is supported through Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'” Or look at Romans 8:28: “For we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him.” This isn’t anything that we can cause or create, and detaching ourselves from it makes it easier to rest secure in the knowledge that God will take care of whatever we need.
The law of Dharma states that everyone has a purpose in life that they have been called to accomplish. The Bible is filled with information about the Christian’s purpose and how each individual is an important member of the body of Christ. Each person is given a specific set of gifts and talents that they are called to use for the good of the body of Christ in a way that no one else can. Meditating on that purpose through yoga is an excellent way to focus on the task ahead. Clearing the mind through yoga also opens it to God’s message and a better understanding of what He is calling the individual to do next.
Yoga for Christians
For Christians who are still on the fence about performing yoga, there are several steps that can make it more religiously appropriate for the path they choose to walk. For example, it’s possible to:
- Choose DVDs that focus on the physical aspects of yoga, without religious overtones. There are also some yoga programs that are created specifically for Christians.
- Turn off or turn down the volume on an existing yoga DVD to avoid those messages.
- Meditate, not on the “universe” or on the self, but on the word of God. Choose a Bible verse to focus on throughout your yoga practice each day.
Though yoga’s origins may have been filled with spiritual overtones that aren’t in keeping with Christian practices, it has been repurposed and adapted for use by Christians across the world. For those looking for a mindful exercise program that allows them to connect with their bodies, improve strength and flexibility, and reduce stress, yoga is an excellent practice that can be adapted for their use. Looking for more information on the practice of yoga? Contact us today to learn more.