Yoga is not anti-Christian

It may surprise people that a 59 year old man took a Yoga class with his wife for thirteen sessions. It may also surprise you that I do a short daily routine of exercises after my shower that includes some Yoga stretches and breathing techniques. I mention this next fact as it is germane – I grew up a Southern Baptist and remain a Christian to this day, but must confess I am not a regular church goer.

I have tried on several occasions to encourage my sister to exercise more. On at least three occasions, I have suggested some relative easy Yoga poses and noted the breathing techniques will be of benefit. She noted her breathing has gotten heavier with some unwanted weight gain. But, when I use the phrase Yoga, she shuts me down. Why?

Unlike me, my sister became even more evangelical in her worship as a Southern Baptist. For those not in tune, the Southern Baptists believe strongly that their manner of worship is the only way to find heaven. I know some other religions feel the same, but this is my perspective having grown up with it. People may disagree and that is fine.

She has been taught that Yoga is more about being a mystical religion than it is about improving your body and mind. She has been taught that it is at odds with Christianity. I shared that many Christians do Yoga and if you check out TV commercials about almost any product, you will witness people doing Yoga in the background or forefront. I can count at least 30 commercials that fit this bill.

Yoga is more about being at peace with your breathing, meditation and stretching. Becoming and remaining flexible will serve us all well as we age. But, the breathing is essential as well. It helps oxygenate the muscles as they are used and helps the lung power. People who sing can breathe better because they have to control their breathing between notes. Measured and deep breathing is helpful.

As for the meditation, not everyone does this part. But, it is your brain. You can meditate over any thoughts you want. My wife shared with me a post that spoke of woman starting and building a women’s exercise group at her church. The minister was supportive and appreciated the growing church attendance until he walked in on a class meditating. It was irrelevant that they were meditating over an offered bible verse. The next sermon was on the evils of Yoga and church service declined as a result of his shortsightedness. A link to this post is below.

In my latest suggestion to my sister, that fell on deaf ears, I said let’s don’t call it Yoga, let’s call it George. She laughed but left the Yoga with me. The next time, I will just show her a few different stretches without naming them. My thrust is I want to be able to self-ambulate (walk on my own) until I die. The inability to walk without help is one of the milestones where a person’s demise hastens. Her added weight is causing her concern on this matter, hence her brother’s interest.

I am a Christian. I believe in the overarching theme that we should treat others like we wanted to be treated. Yoga was not mentioned in the bible. So, in my way of thinking, if I am making a suggestion to do Yoga as it helps me, I am following the Golden Rule. I am treating another the way I want to be treated. Yoga is not anti-Christian and don’t let anyone tell it is not.

Note: Here is a link to the post:

23 thoughts on “Yoga is not anti-Christian

  1. Note to Readers: Yoga is an omni-level exercise regimen. You need not delve into moves you cannot fathom your body doing to glean benefit. Being a former basketball player and runner as well as being tall, there are certain positions I avoid. There is not enough padding to let me get on my knees, e.g. Plus, if I encounter exercises that hurt my back, I just stop doing them.

    I would describe two of my three morning routines as combinations of Yoga, Pilates, isometrics and other exercises. One day I do stand up exercises focusing on the upper torso and core, while the other day I do floor ones focusing on legs and core. The third day is light weightlifting.

    Note, I do these after my shower, so the workouts are not intense nor are they long – fifteen minutes. As I wrote the other day – the routines are sustainable and I rarely miss a day, but it won’t kill me if I do.

    • Hugh, that sums it up in a nutshell. What is funny, when I walked into my first Yoga class, I was only one of two men out of 20 people. I probably would not have done it without my wife. I am glad I did. Keith

  2. Dear Keith,

    Sometimes, there are these prejudices that have been spread by churches. I agree that yoga is a great way to exercise as well as tai chi.

    I one went to a church to listen to a speaker who was describing Mickey Mouse as satanic. I let the person who invited me know that I was not buying that crap.

    Exercise is exercise and those who do this are to be commended and a little meditation is not a bad thing either.

    As for your lovely sister, just love her. She is not ready to hear you yet.

    Hugs, Gronda

    • Gronda, thanks for the stories and advice. Ministers who claim things are satanic are similar to our politicians trying to get elected with fear. Unfortunately, too many people by their BS. Keith

  3. Note to Readers: If you don’t have time or interest in checking out the link, another issue mentioned by the minister after witnessing the Yoga was the prevocative positions used in the exercises. First, this is not Kama Sutra, it is Yoga. Second, the Yoga positions are designed to stretch the back, work the core and make you more limber. So, stretching those muscles would be necessary.

    But, if these exercises give him pause, then he may not want to watch women do Pilates, Jazzercise, or any other exercise. I fully understand that we all work out for a variety of reasons and some of those include feeling good about yourself or making yourself as attractive as possible. No preaching will make a huge dent in stopping that.

  4. I was brought up as a pentecostal christian and was without a doubt brought up to believe that we were right and the rest of the world was wrong. I can remember my parents struggling so much when my brother took up meditation in the late 70s. Now years on i have started a daily meditation/mindfulness practise and find it so beneficial. My mind is calmer than ever before. People are definitely afraid of what they dont understand and its easier to rebuke it than try it out.

      • Alison, do give it a try. You can find classes online or in person called “Gentle Yoga.” That will get you started. What my wife and I found when we did it, the other people in attendance are always helpful if you don’t get it at first.

  5. I work on the basis that since God created the entire Universe and all the manifold dynamics therein, just who are we to assume we know ‘best’. As far as I can see if it includes or leads to Compassion, Respect and Tolerance then it comes from God, just so happens some of us see the message one way and some see it another.
    Thus speaks a UK Catholic with Hard-Left political views.
    Enjoy your Yoga Keith.

    • Well said. I like to say God gave us a brain. When we pray for a solution to a problem, too often we lose sight that he gave us the tool to solve the problem. The one line John Lennon suggested that Paul McCartney leave in “Hey Jude,” is along these lines. “The movement you need is on your shoulder.” He rightfully noted that is the best line in the song.

      • Quite so Keith.
        And we have Christ’s analogy of the speck and the plank to remind us when we get preachy on others.

      • Matthew 7:3-5 New International Version

        3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

        Commentators have mused that as Christ by profession was a carpenter this analogy would have come easily to him. Others have suggested it was told in a slightly wry & comic style.

      • Roger, thanks. I like the carpentry angle. There is a great documentary which integrates the opinions of historians, religious scholars, along with the Dead Sea Scrolls. It suggests Jesus used many carpentry and agrarian examples to speak to his audiences. I was not familiar with this one. Keith

      • When it was just normal in the UK to teach the Bible in school (1950s/60s) it was a common one for teachers to use, almost part of our ‘folklore’ in a way.
        It figures in a comic way in the stop-motion film The Miracle Maker….which I must watch again, one of my favourites.

  6. Note to Readers: My wife asked are their mornings when I don’t want to stretch. Yes. Yesterday was one of those times. I did not want to do my stand up routine, which is the less rigorous of my three routines. But, once I got started it made me feel better. I tho m it helps that each routine starts easy. My stand up routine begins with me standing with arms spread so I look like the letter T. Ten slow breaths, then on to the next variation….

    Again, these are done after my shower and only take fifteen minutes.

  7. Note to Readers: My wife is now referring in gest to the pagans when she spots Yoga on the TV commercials. We still find it hard to believe this healthy exercise is viewed as such.

  8. Do I get a prize for keeping this on the computer screen since you posted it? – or since I opened it while online then returned home?

    It’s interesting how people are quick to dismiss other religions, even close cousin-religions… or dismiss anything ‘foreign’ that might be associated with older religions. I have loved ones who are very open minded, and I have loved ones who are soooooo rigid in beliefs. What is prayer but a form of meditation, as is yoga, and what benefits our minds and bodies also benefits our souls… It’s hard, however, when others are uncomfortable with our choices!

    Hoo-rah for you; I’m sure you’re enjoying your yoga sessions!

    • Lisa, your prize is free Yoga lessons in your own home and at your own direction. 😎 I like the way you frame this. For those who are close minded about new things, they are welcome to their opinion, just as others are who want to try new things. A famous older person said one of the things that keeps him young is curiosity. I like that. Keith

  9. Note to Readers: One of the nice sensations about Yoga is the slight aching from stretched muscles that follows the work out for a brief time. While this may not sound appealing, it is what I call a good soreness as I feel both accomplishment and a buzz from the workout.

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