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Can Christians d++o y+oga?

Can Christians d++o y+oga?

A study on scripture, yoga's history and its benefits.

Hey there, friend. I'm really glad you're thinking about this. The question "Can Christians do yoga?" is really a conversation, but I will put my thoughts here (get comfy). If you still have questions, I'm open to a friendly chat.

Holding space,

Kate Lee

Founder of Numa Yoga

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What d++oes the B+ible s+ay+?

The most common argument I hear against Christians practicing yoga is the quoting of a verse found in the Old Testament:

"Do not worship the LORD your God in the way these pagan peoples worship their gods." Deuteronomy 12:4 NLT

It's important to read the bible in context so, let's dive in. The book of Deuteronomy is a collection of laws given to the Israelites in order to restore their relationship with God. The requirements of these laws were later fulfilled by the blood of Jesus Christ. In fact, when we fall back into following the old laws, we are no longer relying on our salvation. (see Romans 7:6, 10:4 & 11:6, Galatians 3:10, 5:4 & 5:18 and James 2:10.)

 

So then, where and how should Christians worship? Jesus himself addresses the question when he meets the woman at the well:

"But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

John 4:23-24 NLT

 

Friend, God is concerned with the posture of our hearts more than the posture of our bodies. To worship in spirit and in truth means to worship God with passion, surrender and from a place of relational knowing.  It is not possible to worship without coming from a place of understanding and devotion.

The H+istory of Y+oga

Is yoga a religion? No. The practice of yoga is just that- a spiritual practice, much like prayer. Many religions pray, dance, sing, etc. including Christianity. Yoga as a stand alone practice, does not have a diety therefore, it by itself, is not a religion. 

 

Aren't the yoga postures created by ancient Hindu gods? No. Ancient texts show no sign of the yoga postures. Hinduism's foundational practice is seated meditation- not downward dog.

 

The western-style yoga postures that we recognize today were created less than 100 years ago and were inspired by British and Swedish gymnastics. The purpose of the postures was to help young, fidgety boys settle down before meditation. Yoga postures are simply a series of body shapes meant to cultivate stillness.

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The B+enefits of Y+oga

How does yoga benefit my faith? The human body is God's holy temple and yoga is a simply a great way to take care of it. Recent scientific studies have shown that yoga increases flexibility, mobility, blood flow, and oxygen. It calms the body and improves mood, well-being, awareness and mindfulness. 

When we are more present in our body, mind and spirit, we are able to better attune to God's presence with us- both on and off the mat. We are also able to cultivate deeper, more meaningful (and loving) relationships with those around us and with ourselves. Yoga helps us to follow the two greatest commandments:

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God

with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’

This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important:  love your neighbor as yourself.’

Matthew  22:37-39 NLT

So my friend, after studying God's word and the history of yoga, I have found that yoga can exist in harmony with Christianity. Yoga's contemplative nature, the postures, breath work and even the Yamas and NiYamas (basically, yoga's version of the 10 commandments) support a slower, more mindful lifestyle that as a Christian, is centered around Christ.

 

I pray that this explanation enables you to flow with freedom, my friend!

A++men++?

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