Thanks to the growing influence of Yoga and many people taking up the practice, many have questions and concerns about it – particularly regarding its connection to Hinduism and whether it is right to practice the poses and do meditation routines. The available information is also confusing for many Christians to wade through, leading to one of the most famous questions today: is Yoga a sin?
The Bible does not explicitly discuss Yoga and whether it is a sin. Still, it implies that practicing Yoga is wrong due to the metaphysical beliefs it adheres to, which ultimately affect how one views wellness, the self, and God. The Bible is clear that believers must avoid doing any practices that adhere to pagan beliefs or participating in divination rituals, which Yoga follows.
By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of the history of Yoga, whether it is intrinsic to Hinduism, whether it can be separated from its origins, and the wisdom you should apply to it using information from the Bible.
Does the Bible talk about Yoga?
No, the Bible does not talk about Yoga, even though Yoga is a spiritual practice at its core. Its history goes back to around 2700 BC in the developing civilization of the Indus Valley, making it older than most books in the Bible.
The Bible primarily focuses on the Jewish view of God through the centuries and how God continuously revealed Himself to them and the nations the Jews interacted with in history – so it is understandable that the Bible does not talk about Yoga directly, as ancient India was not among those nations.
What does the Catholic Church say about Yoga?
Like the Bible’s position on Yoga, the Catholic Church does not hold a specific position on Yoga or state whether it is good or bad for believers. According to some Catholic publications, the consensus is that if one does the positions for health and exercise, one should not be condemned for it.
The justification for this view comes from the advice that the Apostle Paul gave concerning eating food offered to idols in 1 Corinthians 8:8: “Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat and no better off if we do.”
If one can expand this verse and its context to other things, the Catholic Church states that it is possible to use Yoga for certain benefits while not becoming involved in its spiritual aspects since these are contrary to the faith.
However, there is also a school of thought within the Catholic Church that does not support the inclusion of Yoga into the life of a Christian. The reason is that Yoga is intrinsic to the Hindu faith, and it is complicated to separate it from its origins.
The opposition to Yoga among certain Christians also follows the advice of Paul when he tells the Corinthians to be sensitive to the spiritual state of the weaker brothers in the faith in 1 Corinthians 8:13: Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
What makes Yoga a sin?
The closest thing that comes to the Bible commenting on Yoga can be derived from the practices the Jews saw in neighboring nations and the nations that conquered them through the centuries, and the Bible groups it into a broad term of ‘divination.’ The scriptures condemn any practices that deal with divination, as seen in verses such as Exodus 20:3.
The Bible explicitly states that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and God expects one to take care of their body and use it to glorify God:
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
A significant part of glorifying God involves submitting to His authority in one’s actions, thoughts, and feelings and asking Him for guidance in all these matters:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
Additionally, the Bible discourages one from participating in spiritual practices such as Yoga because it focuses on meditation on the self and gives one the idea that it is possible to merge with God. The Bible is clear on God being a distinct being who is separate from His creation, and also encourages one to meditate on the Word of God instead of emptying their mind in scriptures such as:
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. Psalms 119:15
Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing. Isaiah 40:26
How is Yoga understood in Christianity?
Similar to the view of Yoga in the Bible, Christianity views Yoga as a set of practices that have an anti-Christian philosophy. The main point of contention is that it teaches its practitioners to focus on themselves instead of focusing on God, as well as allowing them to be open to deception.
The Christian view is clear that everything a believer does must be for the glory of God, as the Apostle Paul states:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8
Does Yoga have pagan origins?
Yes, Yoga has its roots in paganism. The word ‘yoga’ is a Sanskrit word that means ‘union’ or ‘yoke,’ and it is grounded in the metaphysical beliefs of eastern religions. The primary purpose of participating in it is to bind one’s spirit and mind to the ultimate consciousness, termed ‘Brahman’ in Hinduism, by breaking free of the limits of the physical world and body.
In Hinduism, ‘Brahman’ is the impersonal God of the Universe – a belief known as pantheism. Yoga practitioners seek to become one with this consciousness through opening spiritual points in the body known as ‘chakras’ by practicing yoga poses, which are called ‘asana,’ as well as quieting the mind through chanting and meditation.
How are Yoga and Christianity incompatible?
Despite the attempts of some Christians to redeem Yoga from its original intentions, the truth is that Yoga is incompatible with Christianity because of its focus on the self, which the Bible repeatedly discourages in passages like:
The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered. Proverbs 28:26
Since God knows the intention of all hearts, He states that doing pagan spiritual practices is sinful because one’s motives are led by selfishness. It also negates the sacrifice of Christ to deliver humanity from sin, including pagan spiritual practices, as depicted in 1 Timothy 1:15.
Can Yoga just be physical?
No, Yoga cannot be separated from its spiritual practices. This is because the asana is the core of the practice and aims to help the practitioner to achieve ‘Nirvana,’ or spiritual freedom and union with the universal consciousness.
In other words, it is a form of worship to the universal God, who is thought to bring purification and end the suffering of physical existence.
Can Christians do Yoga?
While some Christians assume that practicing Yoga is safe as long as one does not do the chants and the emptying of the mind – in other words, viewing it mainly as a physical practice with spiritual benefits. However, the design of Yoga itself does not elevate the physical state – it instead focuses on the spiritual state through physical poses, meditation, and chanting.
Why should a Christian stay away from Yoga?
At its core, Yoga is an anti-Christian practice that seeks to glorify pagan deities, breaking the first commandment:
I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:2-3
Since it is opposed to God and glorifies other deities that are outside Christ, Christians should approach it with caution and avoid incorporating it to avoid leaving themselves open to deception and spiritual attack, similar to what the Apostle Peter states:
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
How does Yoga contradict Bible teachings?
Yoga contradicts the Bible by honoring other deities, elevating the self above God, and emptying the mind through repeating chants – all to join with the universal consciousness.
God is clear on the practice of worshipping Him and avoiding other deities, as this is something He stated even as the Israelites left Egypt, such as in Exodus 20:3 – this also includes the elevation of the self, which the Bible condemns in scriptures such as
Additionally, the Bible discourages one from ‘emptying their mind’ and repeating chants for spiritual growth. Instead, there is a focus on allowing God to change the minds and hearts of people and avoiding praying ’empty prayers’:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing, you may discern what the perfect will of God is, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their many words. Matthew 6:7
Yoga: Its Origin, History, and Development
What is the Catholic position on Yoga? | Archdiocese of Regina
What does the church say about Yoga? | Catholic Answers
What does the Bible say about Yoga?
What does the Bible say about Yoga? | Revelations.org
They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, right? Being raised by Christians significantly impacted my life since I started professing Christ from a young age. My passion for the Christian faith made me pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology. I am a believer and pastor dedicated to spreading the word of God. I have been in the Christian ministry for over a decade and am currently ministering in Life Christian Church. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Please check the About Us Page for more details.