236: Is Yoga Okay for Christians?
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 20:56 — 19.2MB)
Recently, a regular listener sent Kenny an email asking about Yoga, and whether or not it is okay for Christians to practice it.
Yoga is the traditionally Hindu theistic philosophy and ascetic discipline, that involves the suppression of activity, and is aimed at connecting with the spiritual realm in hopes of attaining a higher sense of self-awareness and also aimed at the absolute liberation from all desire and natural human inclination. Yoga traditionally has included mantras, unique breathing control, meditations, and the adoption of specific bodily postures.
In this episode, Kenny makes clear that engaging in Yoga, in its traditional sense, does indeed potentially invite unwanted spiritual beings and evil principalities to enter your life and potentially have influence over your life in ways that would wreak havoc on your faith, soul, and overall well-being.
But Kenny also recognizes that many people in Western societies practice the physical disciplines and elements of Yoga, but are doing so in a way that is divorced from any spiritual connections. In this context, there is probably not issue for Christians to participate in the physical elements of Yoga.
Kenny finishes the episode by giving pastoral wisdom about how we ought to approach any such topic, where something may seem spiritual or taboo to some extent, in the minds of some. Christians, overall, ought to never be flippant in these matters, but always be prayerful, cautious, and diligent before engaging with anything that may have influence over your life or soul (ie: media, books, music, holiday celebrations, relationships, food, spiritual things, etc.).
Also, Christians ought to never mock or be judgmental towards another believer that may have different convictions, or Christians that choose to refrain from something that you feel is “no big deal.”
Lastly, Christians ought to never go against their own conscious when making determinations about what to engage with and what not to engage with. If you feel uneasy about doing Yoga (or any other comparable thing), then you ought to refrain from it, regardless of what others may say or do.
Kenneth E. Ortiz (M.Div.) is a professor and recruiter at Bethlehem College and a pastor at Cities Church. He has 15+ years of vocational ministry experience. He’s also a podcaster, author, and Ph.D. student. Kenneth lives in Bloomington, MN with his wife Malaina, they have one daughter.