Those of you who have followed my blog for a while might have picked up on my passion for physical fitness. My physical fitness regimen consists primarily of a daily workout with Tony Horton and the crew of P90X. It was through this workout system that I was first introduced to yoga.
I still do yoga, and I enjoy it very much. Why? Because it's a killer workout.
However, I have discover that yoga is a very controversial topic in the Christian community. Is it just a series of harmless moves? Is it a pagan philosophy that will corrupt its practitioners? Should Christians even do yoga?
To answer the first two questions, it's both. Yoga is an exercise system which often comes laden with tons of spiritual baggage. I haven't studied (nor do I plan to) the religion of yoga, but I know it's bad karma. No, I don't believe in karma. Teehee...
To answer the third question, I believe that Christians may do yoga. Obviously, because I'm a Christian, and I do yoga.
I do yoga simply for the workout. Christians should be self-disciplined stewards of their body, whatever that looks like for each individual believer before God. I see yoga as one application of this principle of good stewardship.
I see the spiritual aspects of yoga as falling under the category of the idols of 1 Corinthians 8. In this passage, Paul talks about how believers may eat meat sacrificed to idols because the idols are nothing! We know that there is only one God, and we are not somehow spiritually wounded because we ate meat that someone else sacrificed to an idol.
So it is, I believe, with yoga. Are the moves in yoga sinful by themselves? Of course not. Take that hamstring stretch in the picture, for instance.
Do the moves become sinful when labeled as "yoga"? I don't believe so. Like with the meat offered to idols, I do yoga simply because it's a good workout. I do it in faith and with thanksgiving to the True God of Scripture- not the mystical spiritism of yoga.
Then comes the argument "but what about the weaker brother?" It is true that Paul brings up this very important consideration, and for a long time it was something that made me hesitate to publicize the fact that I do yoga. Then, however, I realized that Paul did not hesitate to reason with believers about their superstition over meat sacrificed to idols. Thusly, I desire to do the same over the issue of yoga.
Needless to say, at our house, when we do yoga we separate the physical category from the spiritual. We don't bother clearing our minds, meditating, chanting, or any of that other demonic stuff. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we recite Scripture (yoga really is a great opportunity to meditate on God's Word), and- well, usually, I'm working too hard on properly performing the exercise to be concerned about much else.
So I am in no way arguing for the philosophy, spiritism, religion, or anything besides the physical exercise of yoga. That's all garbage and anti-Christian. I am arguing that we as Christians should be educated, knowledgeable, and Biblically-grounded in our views of things like this- things that can appear scary on their face.
We have not been given a spirit of fear. We serve the God Who reigns sovereign over all the earth- both the physical and spiritual realms are subject to His Word.
There's no reason for us to be superstitious.