Yoga states that a person’s “goal is to unite one’s temporary self with the infinite Brahman, which is the Hindu concept of God.” Yoga focuses on special postures, breathing exercises, and meditation to prepare the body to receive spiritual enlightenment. Yoga is based on the belief that man and God are one, and thus it is actually a form of self-worship. Hindus, who once practiced yoga and have been converted to Christ, typically avoid yoga for these reasons.

So, in keeping with the inquirer’s question, let’s honestly ask, “Is it possible for a Christian to simply concentrate on the “physical” aspects of yoga without embracing the “spiritual” philosophy that it’s based on?” Again, the whole premise upon which yoga is based encourages one to seek enlightenment from within one’s own inner self. Should a Christian be identified with something that puts the focus on “self” instead of on Christ? We are told in Colossians 3:1-2, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (NASB). As believers our focus should be on Christ; our minds are to set on “things above,” NOT on our “self within.”

Yoga promotes the emptying of your mind to receive enlightenment, helped along by breathing exercises, but what does Scripture say regarding our minds? Romans 12:2 says, “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” We are NOT to “empty” our minds; we are to “renew” them! And we renew them through receiving God’s thoughts through His precious Word. As we study the Word, and the Holy Spirit focuses our minds on Christ, we will be transformed! 2 Corinthians 3:18 confirms this, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” The more we become like Christ, the more we will think like Christ; His thoughts will become our thoughts and then we can obey the exhortation given to us in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “Casting down imagination, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

Let me close by saying that even if we could use some of the physical exercises employed in yoga without being defiled by its philosophy, we would still want to avoid any association with yoga. If one attends a yoga class but refrains from their breathing exercises that call for an emptying of the mind, or refuses to adopt a posture that is offered to a Hindu god, they would still be in association with others who do practice the Hindu philosophy behind yoga. We are told in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness.” Let us be faithful to obey this commandment and by doing so we will also be obeying 1 Thessalonians 5:22, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (163.2) (DO)