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Can Christians Do Yoga? Indian Believers Weigh In

Examining the spectrum of Christian views on the traditionally Hindu practice, from physical wellness to spiritual caution.

Today’s observance of the International Day of Yoga, proclaimed by the United Nations since 2015 and led by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi during his visit this week to New York, underscores the global popularity of the ancient eastern practice.

Although not a religion, it is mentioned in the sacred scriptures of Hinduism such as the Bhagavad Gita. A Sanskrit word meaning “union” or “yoke,” yoga aims to unite the body, mind, soul, and universal consciousness, allowing its practitioners to experience freedom, peace, and self-realization.

The practice of yoga involves various physical, mental, and spiritual techniques, including breathing exercises, postures, relaxation, chanting, and meditation. Different styles of yoga exist, each with its own focus and approach to achieving a “unitive state.”

The roots of yoga can be traced back to the Rigveda and the Upanishads. One of the most well-known texts on yoga are the Yoga Sutras, written by Patanjali around 200 B.C. In this foundational text, the ancient scholar describes yoga as the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.

Yoga holds spiritual significance, aiming to control the mind, attain a detached witness consciousness, and liberate oneself from the cycle of birth and death, as stated on a yoga website.

It is important to note that the term yoga itself signifies a connection with the divine. This implies that any genuine approach to yoga should incorporate a spiritual pursuit, which can vary among individuals.

Since assuming office in 2014, Modi’s government has actively promoted yoga as both a cultural and spiritual practice, emphasizing that its benefits are not limited only to health but also can help “deal with …

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