Ask someone in the Christian church what they think about yoga and you'll find a divide in opinions. Some feel strongly that we, as Christians, shouldn't practice yoga at all, some feel it's no big deal if it's just for exercise, and some are completely in the dark as to why there would be a controversy in the first place.
The most heavily debated topic is the fact that Hindus used yoga poses in their religious practices. Because of this, they have been credited with creating yoga. Unfortunately, this is a hasty generalization that needs to be unpacked. First and foremost: Yoga is a methodology and not a theology. Yoga pre-dates Hinduism.1 There is a huge misconception that yoga is grounded in Hinduism. It is not. In fact, Hinduism's religious structures formed much later.2
Yoga is a tremendously beneficial form of exercise to strengthen, stretch, and increase balance in the body. While Hindus did use aspects of the exercise for their religious practices, this does not mean yoga is inherently Hindu. Many good things exist on earth that have been used for selfish or misguided purposes. However, the earth and all that's in it belongs to the Lord.3 Nothing is inherently evil since God created everything and He is only good.4 Corruption comes when humanity enters the picture. The hearts of humankind can take any good thing and use it for unethical or immoral purposes.
There are so many physical benefits to the practice of yoga. I believe these are a gift from God for healing and restoring our bodies. The physiological benefits cannot be denied.5 To me, this points back to our bodies being intelligently designed. For example, when your forehead makes contact with the ground (such as in Child's Pose), your body is calmed.6 When we invert our bodies (bring our hips higher than our heart), we strengthen our immune system, balance our hormonal system, calm the nervous system, stabilize the digestive and elimination systems, and regulate our respiratory system (among over 15 other specific health benefits!).7 I think this clearly shows that the physical methodology of yoga supports how God designed our bodies. With the degree of stress in society today, it seems more important than ever to restoratively care for our bodies so they can function as purely as God intended.
Engaging with the culture around us is inevitable. In fact, as followers of Jesus, we are called to meet people where they are at, while still modeling His grace and honoring God. Check out the biblical recount of Daniel interpreting a dream for the king. It was a practice of non-believing pagans to try to interpret dreams, yet Daniel, who lived in purity while surrounded by sin, stepped up and took the job of interpreting a dream for the king. Daniel didn't make his own personal assumptions or look to gain fame from interpreting the dream. Instead, he consulted God, Who used the opportunity to draw the king to Himself. This resulted in the true God of the universe being worshiped instead of unfulfilling, man-made gods.8
Any job can be a ministry. All work can be sacred when embracing a biblical worldview. It is not our role to judge others in matters that are not black and white in Scripture. Instead we are to offer grace and show mercy.9 Each person is accountable to God and will answer to Him alone, not to you or to me or to any other person on Earth.10
It is our hope to have the chance to redeem yoga and glorify God in what we do. Most people have no idea how good they are designed to feel or how their bodies can be restored after even 45 minutes on the yoga mat. It is our privilege to help you on your way in a yoga journey that honors God.
Thank you to my beautiful friend and former business partner, Tallulah Caulfield, for collaborating on this crucial statement of our beliefs.
1, 2. http://www.americanyogaassociation.org/general.html
3. Psalm 24:1, Deuteronomy 10:14, Psalm 89:11
4. 1 John 1:5 & 1 Timothy 4:4
8. Daniel, Chapter 2
9. Romans 12:9-10, Ephesians 4:2 & Ephesians 4:32
10. Romans 14:4-13 & James 4:12