“How can you practice yoga? Don’t you know that it is a sin?” That is a question I got asked by a couple of people already. Even some close friends.
It is a question, which I at first did not understand, and then did not know how to answer.
How is Yoga a sin? I asked myself this, with the accent on the How?
To answer this let us first take a glimpse at what yoga is, why some religions might see it sinful, and what my personal opinion on this topic is.
Remember that we all have different belief systems. Even Christians do believe differently from one another, even though the main belief stays the same. So if practicing yoga makes you feel uncomfortable or you think it does not agree with your religion, then simply do not practice yoga.
But I ask you to not judge people that do practice yoga, because they might believe differently than you believe, and yoga might even bring them closer to God.
What is Yoga?
Yoga originated in ancient India and is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice.
The practice of yoga is made up of asanas, (yoga poses), pranayama (breathing techniques), and meditation.
The word yoga comes from Sanskrit and can be translated into “union”.
A simplified definition of yoga, therefore, would mean a practice that creates harmony between body, mind, and spirit, by combining, asanas, and pranayama, together with meditation.
The harmony you create brings a union between the individual self and the universal consciousness. This again neutralizes ego-driven thoughts, which could prohibit you from becoming your highest self.
Once you reach your higher self, you can more easily connect to the divine. To God.
This definition is a very simplified version of what yoga is.
Is Yoga a religion?
Yoga is not a religion on its own. It could better be understood as a conscious way of living.
Yoga does have some spiritual aspects though, as it connects you to the divine. The divine of your higher self, and the divine of a higher power. I call that higher power God.
However, Yogis from all over the world and from all different kinds of religions, practice yoga.
What are the reasons why some people believe that yoga is sinful?
- Some say that yogis believe that they are their own God because you connect with your highest self during meditation, and also because Yogis say Namaste, which means the divine in me sees the divine in you.
The way I see it though is that we were all created in the image of God. Giving us that same divinity he has. So if we practice yoga, trying to reach our highest self, which is only a different way of saying that we should be the best version of ourselves, we become the person that God made us. The wonderful being he created. A child of God.
And if we recognize that all of us were created in that divinity, not only ourselves. We can respect each other the way we should. “Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself” – Mark 12:31
And that is really what yogis mean when they say Namaste. A recognition that they acknowledge all of us the same. Because we were all made with the perfect light and love of God.
- Some people think that we might be susceptible to other spirits when we meditate or practice some yoga poses.
I believe that the God I believe in (which is probably the same God you believe in, you might just call him by a different name. But don’t we all believe that there is only one God?) is much stronger than any other evil spirits that might lurk around, and if I believe in God and try to connect with him during my meditation, how can I be afraid of any other forms of spirits?
- Then again meditation is said to have healing powers, which some people all see as psychic and therefore sinful. Once again, God created me. With all the healing powers that my body has, naturally. And that our bodies have healing powers, is a fact.
When we wake up the healing powers that our bodies naturally have, the ones that God gave us, then how is this psychic at all? Wonderful is the word I would choose.
- Some people warn against different forms of yoga. Of course, here I also agree. Some so-called yogis practice yoga in the weirdest kinds of forms and places.
This kind of yoga does not have anything to do with traditional yoga anymore though. If something looks sketchy to you, it probably is, and I would also not attend these classes. Listen to your inner voice.
- Chakras are another aspect that some see as psychic and sinful. Chakras are energy points in our body that keep our energy flowing optimally. A lot of people say that these energy points aren’t real.
Energy points are found in a lot of traditional medicine forms like the meridians in TCM, you might not see these points, but there are a lot of things we can’t see, that doesn’t mean that it is not real though, right?
Do Yogis believe in God?
This is a question that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. Traditional yoga comes from ancient India, where people practice Hinduism and Buddhism among other things.
However Muslims, aswell as Christians practice yoga aswell. Not only to stay healthy physically and mentally but also, to honor the body that God gave them.
Why do a lot of people choose to practice Yoga?
Most people practice yoga, to stay healthy. Yoga is a great way to stay fit, gain strength, improve your balance and increase your flexibility. On top of that, the breathing techniques in yoga help you to decrease anxiety and stress as well as improve your overall health. Mediating is proven to have a lot of benefits for your health.
As you can see, most people start yoga, to improve their health. However, most yogis that stay committed to their practice soon realize that yoga is a way of life.
It helps you gain awareness in everything you do. You start to be more conscious of yourself, others, and the environment around you. As this happens, we start to improve ourselves. Work on ourselves, like all of us, should do anyways.
We are all not perfect. But we were made in the perfect image of God. Working on ourselves could help us become the best version of ourselves. Or as yogis would phrase it, reach our highest, divine self.
Through meditation we come closer to God due to silencing the loudness of our daily mind, then we can actually hear what God has to say.
I do believe in God. Because just looking at all the beautiful and wonderful things around me, I could never understand how people do not believe in God.
God made everything around us wonderful, he also made us wonderful.
Everything we need and want is already within us. By meditating, which some people say is sinful, we do not go further away from God, we actually connect with him in such a way that we can hear what he wants to tell us.
I know not all will agree with me, and that is okay, but the way I see it, we all believe in the same God. We just call him by a different name.
For me, yoga brings me closer to God. Closer to the wonders he created. For some that might be different, then yoga might not be for you, and again, that is ok too.
As stated above, yoga is not a religion, it is a way of life, and if it does not work for you, then you can stick with whatever practice works best for you.
In life, there are not always wrong or right answers, it is often listening to your heart and choosing your way. As long as that way does not hurt you or any other living being, then choose that.
Can Christians do Yoga?
Yoga is not a religion, but it does have some spiritual aspects to it. If that does not agree with your faith, then you really should not practice yoga.
But if you believe that yoga does not only keep you fit and healthy physically and mentally, but also strengthens your relationship with God, then please practice yoga. It has so many amazing benefits.
Is Yoga a religion?
No. Yoga is not a religion on its own. Rather it can be seen as a way of life.
However, Yoga originated in ancient India and therefore has some aspects of Hinduism, Buddhism, and also Jainism.