What Is Christian Yoga?

A. Gamm

The physical and mental health benefits of yoga are agreed upon by many people worldwide. Some Christians, however, worry that practicing yoga may go against their spiritual beliefs. In reality, yoga has been in practice for several years before it became associated with any religion, making it a methodology for well being and not a religious theology. As such, several groups have formed their own separate type of Christian yoga to help individuals of the faith use yoga to not only better their bodies, but strengthen their bonds with God.

Woman in an upward bow yoga pose.
Woman in an upward bow yoga pose.

Christians believe that God created man in his image, which means that every person must treat their body with respect. This makes yoga the perfect opportunity for Christians to reconnect with their body, while also bettering it. Christian centered yoga works as a method of preparing the body and mind to fully worship and providing a sacred time to allow a person to fill himself with God.

Christian yoga focuses on the health benefits of yoga and the teachings of Christianity.
Christian yoga focuses on the health benefits of yoga and the teachings of Christianity.

While some remain skeptic about potentially embracing another religion through yoga practice, in general the Christian attitudes toward yoga have in fact changed. Many argue that to believe a Christian cannot enjoy yoga because of its history with another religion is to argue that Christians should not enjoy other things associated with other religions. One example would be to say that Christians should not enjoy the sun as religions have focused their faith around the sun. Instead, people who practice Christian yoga separate the benefits of the act of yoga from the ties to the Hindu culture and incorporate their own faith into the practice.

Those who practice Christian yoga do tend to change certain aspects of what may be called traditional yoga beyond the focus of spirituality. Many Christian yoga classes change the name of poses that may seem too focused on Eastern culture. To truly make the yoga experience more focused on Christianity, some yoga teachers have created their own Christian-related poses, such as the fish and boat poses. In other instances, some poses or gestures are not performed if they seem too centered on the Hindu faith.

Practicing Christian yoga also means other aspects from traditional yoga are left out or changed. Instead of emptying the mind of all thought, a person should fill his or her mind with thoughts of God and his teachings; praying is also acceptable. Within a class setting, scriptures from the Bible may be read aloud. Chanting and mantras are usually forbidden by those who teach Christian yoga.

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