Thursday, April 5, 2012

Yoga: Satanism or Compliment to Christ?

There are misunderstandings related to Yoga. Some minor ones (it's only a physical exercise) and some major ones (it's a demonic cult hell-bent on taking down Christianity).

A year and a half ago I went out to eat with my girlfriend and sat in a booth beside three women in their seventies. It was in the middle of the morning and the restaurant was quiet, and quite empty, so I got to enjoy the conversation between the three women.

One of the women, I'll call her the leader, dominated the discussion. One of them asked about Yoga.

“Can Christians practice Yoga?”
The leader replied, “I think Yoga is satanic.”

If I wasn't trying so hard to hide my laughter, I may have thrown myself into their conversation. I practice Yoga, and have yet to find sulfur burns on my rug, though I do occasionally get a nice rug burn on my skin.

Not only is Yoga not satanic in nature, but it is a practice that can compliment other religious practices.

Yoga is what I would call a side dish to an amazing main course. Christianity and Yoga is probably not as smooth as Martin and Lewis, but like eggs and ketchup, for those who can appreciate it, the combination is delicious.

Those open-minded enough to express an interest in other religions can find many useful aspects within Yoga. Yoga is not a belief system in and of itself, with its own rules and dogma. It will not contradict the teachings of Christianity, or even Islam and Judaism (or satanism).


Below I've included two videos. If you have the time and are interested, I recommend watching both. You don't have to watch them in any order and you can continue reading to the end before viewing (or watch them now if you like).

The first video is against Yoga, the second video is for Yoga.

Can Yoga ever be Christian? 

This is an example of the misconceptions, half-truths, and flat out lies told about Yoga in order to further one's own personal agenda (prejudiced fear). It's interesting to watch Caryl Matrisciana twist the positive truths of Yoga by her own dogma and worldview into something it's not.

I won't get bogged down arguing against this video's every point. I think she actually hurts her own cause several times by painting Hinduism and Yoga pleasantly, only to later tear it down: “You mustn't have a low self esteem of yourself in Hinduism.” As if it's bad because it sounds helpful.

But she has made the mistake of thinking all Yogis are alike, as some would think all Christians are alike. She's an example of a dogmatic and prejudiced person, which is not an accurate representation of Christianity, just as her talk is not an accurate representation of Yoga.

Yoga has its origins in Hinduism, but it is distinctly not Hinduism. It has evolved into its own thing. Having read Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and researched the opinions of many practicing Yogis, I've yet to see a contradiction between the compassionate beliefs of Christianity and Yoga. In fact, Yogis such as Paramahansa Yogananda have spearheaded attempts to combine the two, and I believe have effectively done so. 

There are Christians doing the same, coming at it from the other direction.

Should Christians Practice Yoga?

This video does a much better job explaining an inclusive and logical reason why Christians can benefit from Yoga, and why it's not inherently sinful to practice.

You can see the vastly different opinions shared on the topic of Yoga. Some think it's evil. Others good. The fact is, Yoga, and any other religion or spiritual practice, is what the practitioner makes of it. These are tools, after all, and any tool is only as good as the worker.

If the above videos show anything for certain, they show that we are either limited or set free by our personal beliefs. You can hold the world as an enemy, seeing in it many things to be afraid of and run from, or you can see the world as a friend, and take what it offers as a tool to grow closer to God, or yourself, or anything you wish.

The debate of whether or not Christianity and Yoga belong together is really a debate of whether or not we should live inclusively or exclusively. Should we build walls to keep the world out (or to keep ourselves in) or should we tear down these walls to discover what life outside of our comfort zone has to offer?


  1. This was a great, crisp, well written post. Although you're partial to yoga, you're not bashing anyone or anything else while glorifying your position, rather discussing it wisely, calmly and logically. It was very well done. Keep it up!

  2. I agree, a well thought out and presented post. Besides that I tend to agree with what you say, which makes it easy for me. I believe that many "Christians" have distorted views about their own belief system, how would they appreciate another persons. Yoga is a benefit for many people in many different faiths...

    1. I think it's our Western culture more so than the religion itself, but I definitely agree. We've got a goofy way of looking at the world.

  3. Living in the Bible Belt of East Tennessee, I hear a LOT of alternative concepts being labeled as Satanic or cult related. Yoga is one that I hadn't ever heard being labeled this way, although I'm not surprised to read of your experience and the conversation you overheard. At least these ladies were exploring the possibilities and discussing it, even if their conversation didn't fall into a dynamic that you and I agree with.

    I've practiced yoga and meditation for 25+ years and find both to be invaluable for a variety of reasons. Mental and physical health, clarity, processing through my day, finding a way to come to peace and center...these are only a few of the benefits.

    Perhaps your post here will open up discussion for some of your readers and they'll decide to explore yoga. Great post, J.R.!

    - Dawn

    1. I would love to see it open up that discussion!

      The thing that was most startling about what I overheard wasn't that they didn't like Yoga, it was really that these two women, probably very sweet and compassionate, were being lead on a leash by someone who seemed to be very hateful and prejudice. They honestly didn't know what to believe, and were looking for input, and the "leader" was definitely giving some...

  4. I'm glad you happened to sit near those ladies that early afternoon and overheard their conversation. A great post came out of it! I really think there are a lot of misconceptions regarding yoga and it has a lot to do with second hand info being passed down from person to person without people really investigating what yoga is for themselves.

    I agree with you...Yoga is a practice that any person of any religion can practice.

    1. I agree, and that's a good way to lose valuable information...

  5. I have found through my simple, yet meaningful, yoga positions practiced, with the meditative breathing, of course, that I feel closer to my Lord than before. My body is stretched and relaxed, my mind is calm and opened, and I can better feel Him and know that I am at one with Him.
    During Lent, there were times I went through my yoga routine and then straight to the rosary from there. All I can say is: "Wow!" This is awesome! It works! Better than I could ever imagine.
    Must confess - I didn't watch the videos you have here, but chose not to. I know my God loves the heart which seeks to know Him. I don't want to flavor my feelings with the interpretations of others at this moment in time.
    Great post, J. R.!
    May God richly bless you!

    1. Then you're not missing anything by skipping the videos, Martha. The first is just some ranting and the second isn't much than you've explained here.

      That's very cool that it helps you. The rosary itself is a wonderful thing to do, and putting them together must be fantastic!

    2. It is, because the groundwork is already laid for this type of contemplative recitation of prayer. Thanks for responding, J. R.!

  6. How can anything wrong be ..when something is helping your body and mind...Christian or not this is a win win situation....and even adds to meditation which many many religions use....a cult ...that's funny...Yoga is a beautiful thing for anyone....As always...XOXOXOXO

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Bongo! I hope you're well. I agree, Yoga is beautiful and it's sad to see anyone dismiss it without actually knowing about it or trying it.

  7. Very often people ask me where I am from and what religion do I follow.. My answer is always simple I don't have a definite religion.. I respect all. Yoga for me is not the physical but a practice off the mat..Harder t follow the practice of f the mat then it is on the mat... however many people and there are many who see yoga as purely a physical practice and sadly miss out on the subtleties of this practice.
    Great post JR

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Savira. It is a lot harder to follow Yoga off the mat, to really treat people like they're part of you.

  8. Yoga practice is very important in Satanism.. I myself practiced Yogi mediation until the point i could dream in detail of the day to come or sometimes events that where months away. I only needed half the sleep of a normal person and felt full of energy. I told people that mediation is the solution to all problems. I felt VERY empowered and thought i had these visions from God (like a prophet).. Don't be deceived people.. These are the reason people practice Satanism to get these powers, but they come at a high price.. You are letting powerful forces into yourself that you may not be able to control. Google Satanism Kundalini yoga and do your research.. I am half the man i used to be thanks to yogic practices. I'm not a bible pusher or Jesus freak so take my warning seriously. Most of you are only scratching the surface and think that its harmless and healthy. Let me tell you as a veteran practitioner that the benefits are NOT worth the consequences. Blessings and Love to you all.

  9. A pity Stacy Clinton is a moron who "thinks" compliments is socalled harassment, Sarah W. is one too. On what to wear they could have used a better choice of words than to say something insulting like, "sexual" pestering. Calling your cleavage pretty should not be an excuse to make it illegal.