Is Yoga not Compatible with being Christian? – 9 Oct 10

Yoga

My friend Deniz shared a link which caught my interest. It was called ‘Southern Baptist leader on yoga: Not Christianity’ and the Yahoo article told that this religious Christian leader, Albert Mohler, wrote a blog about why Christians should not be doing yoga.

In his opinion practicing yoga is not compatible with being Christian. He says ‘When Christians practice yoga, they must either deny the reality of what yoga represents or fail to see the contradictions between their Christian commitments and their embrace of yoga.

I have read about this kind of discussions and statements before, too, in that time about the question if yoga is dangerous for Muslim beliefs. There were some Muslim countries in which the political leaders debated whether Muslims should be allowed to practice yoga and many of them were of the opinion that it is against the laws of Islam. Now I hear this from Christian countries, too.

I know that this is unfortunately a result of what Hindu religious leaders did to yoga. They accepted yoga in their life, mixed it up with their religious practices and spit the whole thing out for masses of western people calling it yoga with a prefix or suffix including their name which then turn into different yoga traditions. They made their brand yoga and of course Hinduism is clearly visible in that.

Yoga however is not a religion! It does not have anything to do with religion nor does it want to teach you any religious behavior! Keep yoga away from religion! It may have its basic roots in Hinduism because those who started writing about it were born Hindus but it IS NOT religious practice!

Yoga of course is not only exercise but it is not religious worshipping either. It has a scientific background which more and more western doctors also explore and accept as beneficial for their patients. Mohler seems to have a problem with meditation and concentration during or after postures but if you ask any psychologist, Christian or not, and he will tell you that meditation is good for you. It relaxes your mind, brings you to peace and stimulates your brain.

Concluding I would like to say that yoga is clearly not ‘at odds’ with Christianity, simply as there is not a level on which any religion and yoga could clash. In this way I clearly have to object Albert Mohler’s opinion but, believe it or not, there are some points on which I also agree with his statements. I will explain more in the next days as it is a very interesting topic and I want to collect all my thoughts about it.

Today our friends Regina, Jens and Celina arrived at the Ashram. They are the first of many new and old friends to come and we are looking forward to have a great time with them here! 

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  1. Trevor Browning

    Still… a dedicated yoga practice yields physical and spiritual results. a ‘religion’ is a bunch of guys who make rules and take your money. So Asana yoga is usually not that.

  2. Jessica Baer

    Asana and pranayama practice have deepened my awareness of the reality that everything is connected, as well as given me easier access to my innate kindness and compassion. In the West, this might be confused with religiosity simply because many of us were raised in secular or non-religious families. Misunderstandings tend to run amok without personal investigation into the history of yoga.

  3. Melissa Jean Loveland McCarthy

    That is right thank you very much for saying that

  4. Annan Boodram

    I couldn’t agree with you more Swamiji. But some people always wear blinkers that limit their vision so they only see what they want to see.

  5. Melissa Jean Loveland McCarthy

    I think yoga is compatible with it and it does connect you with the universe and reality but some people are either too stubborn or like Annan said they only see what they wanna see we are all connected and even if i was horribly treated i am still a kind person i jsut am not able to do things because they smashed me between the eyes and it messed me up bad and i am resting and sleeping a lot till my serious wound heals

  6. Shrinath Vashishtha

    Categorically true! I appreciate this post of yours, Swami ji, as zillions of people around the world as also in our own country still need to be enlightened about this fundamental fact about the timeless virtue of ‘Yoga’. The only religious thing, if at all, about it is an individual’s physical and spiritual well-being in harmony with the universe (Bramhanda).

  7. Brigitte Wunsch

    It is not a religion, but it does have to do with spirituality.THis wellness yoga , so popular in the west is just the opposite of the original idea of yoga. Instead of helping people to become more aware and present to what is, this yoga i…s just an other means to escape from the essence of life.

  8. Khadija Sophie

    Right, whoever considers yoga a religion is an idiot.

  9. Antonio Pozo

    I have never heard of a fundamentalist breather

  10. Simon Heathcote

    Although breathing is fundamental! As, sadly, are idiots!!

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