Should Christians practice yoga, meditation, or affirmation? Is it okay for Christians to engage in these things, or should we avoid them?
These are all great questions, and Christians often have questions about the practice of yoga, meditation, and a new practice called affirmation. On one hand, some Christians wonder if they can do the exercises of yoga for the physical benefit, assuming they have no intention of seeking the religious connotations. They also wonder if meditation is a safe way to cleanse the mind. On the other hand, some Christians argue that yoga or meditation is a pagan-riddled practice, and it should be avoided entirely. What’s the truth of the matter?
This article will explain why Christians should avoid these things, even though they may seem relatively harmless (or even wildly popular) in our modern-day society. It will also give Christians some clues to look for so that they can see that these practices are not in line with God’s word.
Why Christians Should Avoid Yoga
The problem with yoga is that it has entirely pagan origins, and it is still riddled with verbiage and ideas that propagate pagan practices/Eastern religious thought. It was created by, practiced by, and propagated by mostly Hindus and Buddhists, and it has direct spiritual applications for today.
The goal of the stretches, exercises, and mental techniques of yoga is to connect you with their false view of “god” or “energy,” or to discover that you are really god (“god is everything”). This is the whole agenda behind these false religions–to make people work for perfection or salvation, or to get people’s focus off the true God and back on themselves (or another false god or belief system).
The word “yoga” literally means “to join” or “to unite,” and it is connected with a sense of “being” or “deity,” which reflects the Hindu or Buddhist version of God referred to as “Brahman.” This “Brahman” is completely contrary to what the Bible teaches about the nature of God. Furthermore, the intention of yoga has remained unchanged even today. While some people think they are doing harmless exercises, this exact practice is still being done with the expectation of “healings,” “spiritual awareness,” and/or “contact” with this mystical force.
To illustrate this, here is an excerpt from a yoga site I found after a quick search online. Notice what they say about yoga in their frequently asked questions:
Is yoga a religion?
This is a common misconception. While the practice and study of yoga is Eastern in origin, its use and acceptance is worldwide. The introspective process that is experienced through the asanas (postures), and stillness of the mind, strengthen each individual’s internal-awareness to the present moment. Deepening one’s internal-awareness helps to reveal our true nature of love, kindness, strength , and contentment through clear presence of mind.
In the statement above, the yoga instructor does a great job of making yoga seem like an innocent series of exercises and techniques. However, notice the verbiage he or she uses:
- “introspective,” which means to look inside yourself for the solutions to life. The Bible says we need to look to Christ and His word for the solutions to life. In fact, Jesus said that without Him we can do nothing: “”I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5; emphasis mine).
- “stillness of the mind,” which means to meditate in an attempt to achieve altered consciousness, which can allow you to have new “insights.” The Bible says to bring every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Only with a blank mind can Buddhists/Yoga practitioners begin to indoctrinate you to their religious ideas of “being in the now.”
- “internal-awareness:” again, looking to oneself and discovering the ‘god within.’
- “present moment:” new age books are riddled with the phrase to “live in the now” or “live in the moment.” This language is embedded in numerous false religions, and the main idea is to keep the focus off God and onto yourself and the “Brahman.”
- and worst of all, the last sentence: “Deepening one’s internal-awareness helps to reveal our true nature of love, kindness, strength, and contentment through a clear presence of mind.” Really? God’s word doesn’t say we have a “true nature of love.” The Bible makes clear we are children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3), and that we’re born with a nature of sin (Romans 3:10). We are in dire need of a savior, and that savior is Christ Jesus.
All of the points above lead me to a very important point that I want all Christians to understand: When you begin to learn yoga, every book, DVD, or session you attend is going to be filled with New Age/Occult/Pagan teachings and language! In other words, you’re essentially reading or listening to a Buddhist or Hindu sermon, just by attending a yoga session or reading a book!
The very clever word choices the yoga author made reflect Eastern religion in almost every sentence. Most people won’t catch it unless they’ve read a lot of the Eastern writings or teachings. It’s a great way for Satan to spread ideas of false religions to the masses while they are completely unaware of it. After a few yoga sessions, followers may start using the very same language that Buddhists use such as “living in the now,” or “increased consciousness,” and so forth.
When is it ever right for Christians to dabble with other religions? Never! God’s word clearly prohibits Christians from dabbling with idols, false religions, or the occult:
“for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols?” (2 Corinthians 6: 14-16)
Key Points to Remember About Yoga
- The word “yoga” literally means “to unite” or “to join,” and it’s referring to a false god concept. Can Christians practice “joining to a false god?” For a Christian to say, “I practice yoga,” is to literally say, “I practice uniting with Brahman.”
- Yoga was started by Eastern religions, which all are false religions according to God’s word. Yoga remains strongly connected to these practices today. Any Buddhist I’ve ever met does these things.
- Yoga contains words, thoughts, and ideas in its various teachings, books, and videos, which are contrary to what God says about the world and nature of humanity.
- Most yoga instructors practice Buddhism, and they begin coaching people on these philosophies while explaining how to meditate or stretch. Some yoga places offer books and literature to lead people into a Buddhist/Hindu philosophy on life.
- While yoga may provide minimal health benefits, yoga practitioners often make exaggerated claims, suggesting that yoga can treat heart disease, cancer, anxiety, depression, and a multitude of disorders. Many of these claims have been scientifically proven false.
- Most Buddhists/Hindus do not like the teachings of Christianity (especially sin nature, eternal life, resurrection).
Having said that, God’s word is not against regular, non-pagan forms of exercise or stretching. Paul tells us that bodily exercise has some benefits (1 Timothy 4:8). We are the temple for the Holy Spirit, and we should take care of our bodies. However, yoga is clearly the wrong approach.
Remember what God’s word says: we are to abstain from even the mere appearance of evil:
“Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:22)
The Problem with Meditation
The Hindu/Buddhist concept of meditation is also a problem for Christians. Their concept of meditation involves “clearing the mind” so that you can become more “introspective” or “self aware.” Some suggest that meditation can help you achieve an altered level of “consciousness” or control over your body. Here’s a definition of meditation from a Buddhist website. I’ve underlined some words to help you catch how they are sliding in New Age/Pagan ideas into most yoga/meditation teachings:
Meditation is a means of transforming the mind. Buddhist meditation practices are techniques that encourage and develop concentration, clarity, emotional positivity, and a calm seeing of the true nature of things. By engaging with a particular meditation practice you learn the patterns and habits of your mind, and the practice offers a means to cultivate new, more positive ways of being. With regular work and patience these nourishing, focused states of mind can deepen into profoundly peaceful and energised states of mind. Such experiences can have a transformative effect and can lead to a new understanding of life. (Underlining by me for emphasis)
Again, notice how it’s all the same language as this New Age stuff! Meditation will “transform your mind.” It’s a special “technique” of “concentration” that will help your poor, ignorant soul see the “true nature of things.” With “regular work” (i.e. many paid sessions $), you can have a “new understanding” of life.
What they don’t tell you is that if you keep opening your mind to these false religious teachings (that they will instruct you on, no doubt), you’ll eventually start thinking like a Buddhist or Hindu; and according to God’s word, you’ll be in a false religion and destined for eternity in hell and then the lake of fire. The only way to be saved is to place your faith and trust in Christ before you die. No other religious path can get you there–it is by Christ alone. The Bible says no other name under heaven can save mankind, than that of our precious Jesus (Acts 4:12).
All of these Buddhist ideas are nothing new–they’ve been practiced by pagans for thousands of years. It’s also no coincidence that throughout history, nearly every single person who has dabbled in the occult has said that some “vision” came to them while “meditating.” They suppose God gave them new instructions, and bingo–a new false religion was started. Also, consider this: Many Hindu or Buddhist statues are of someone in a “meditation” position. That alone should be a red flag for Christians. These statues are modern-day idols!
Meditating God’s Way
The Bible clearly and plainly tells Christians how to meditate the Biblical way. It always involves thinking of God’s deeds, God’s word, or praying to God. Consider the passages below as an example:
- “I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.” (Psalm 119:15)
- “My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.” (Psalm 119:48)
- “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)
- “I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.”(Psalm 77:12)
After reading the passages above, Christians should know what God intends meditation to look like: Christians should consider God’s glory; focus on His laws and commands; and praise Him. The focus of meditation is never on “self” or nothingness–it’s on God.
The New Affirmation Movement
There is also a new movement called “affirmation,” and this is taking place in some religious worship services. Affirmation involves a type of meditation, and individuals are often instructed on how to meditate properly in an effort to connect with God. Once again, this is clearly not the Biblical form of meditation or prayer.
Relaxation and meditation go hand in hand–practitioners want people to be relaxed, because only then can they begin to whisper the New Age/Occult/Buddhist ideas into their minds. Your mind will be far more receptive to those ideas if you are in an altered state of mind. This is particularly true when someone “guides” you in your meditation or prayer.
The Bible warns us to be sober-minded, not in an altered or super-relaxed state of consciousness:
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.(1 Peter 5:8)
It’s no coincidence that they want you to be relaxed and in a different state of consciousness (i.e., not sober-minded). It’s they same technique that psychiatrists and psychologists use to try to hypnotize someone! Satan can inundate your mind while you are in this state, and you won’t be as readily discerning of the teachings you’ll be fed. You’ll soon begin to fall for them–hook, line, and sinker.
Conclusion: Beware of Yoga, Meditation, Affirmation, and New Ageism
In conclusion, Christians should always refer to the Bible when considering new teachings or practices. Yoga, meditation, and affirmation clearly go against scripture. God’s word tells us not to dabble with false religions or ceremonies, yet many Christians unknowingly do so when they practice yoga.
Perhaps the greatest danger of yoga is not so much the exercise or stretches, but the teachings and worldview that are ingrained in every book, DVD, or instructional lesson. While there may be a very small health benefit for some people, there are other exercise/stretching/breathing techniques that are not rooted in blatant paganism.
In addition, keep in mind that New Age teachings are engulfing our entire planet. The Bible predicted this thousands of years ago. The book of Revelation clearly shows that in the end times, society will be ripe for a unified religion that the Antichrist will be use to lure in the masses. This New Age religion will be one of “embracing” all views as equal.
God talks sternly against this idea. In fact, he calls the dabbling and acceptance of other religious ideas as nothing more than cheap whoredom (Revelation 17:1).
Finally, if anyone is not saved, or if you haven’t been walking with the Lord as you should, I want to encourage you to give your life to Christ today. The Bible makes it clear that there is only one true God–the God of the Bible. God the Father sent the Lord Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for my sin and for your sin on the cross. If you want to be saved, all you have to do is believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and your sins will be forgiven. Then you can begin to study God’s word and learn His truth.
I pray that this article helps anyone who reads it. May God bless you all.