Many Christians are against the use of yoga because of the spiritual themes that could potentially cause one to sin. I think those people have valid points, but I don’t necessarily agree.
When yoga was originally practiced it was very much intertwined with the spirituality of the culture. If a Christian were to immerse themselves in that culture it would probably be detrimental to their Christian walk; could we go so far as to say it would “give the devil a foothold”? As usual defining our terms is helpful – what most of us call yoga is merely exercise but the practice of yoga in its entirety it should probably be avoided.
So my first question is can the physical movements and their health benefits be separated from the non-Christian worldview of the meditation side of yoga? I think they can. But then I wonder if I’m rationalizing because I like how yoga makes me feel and it is beneficial for my health. I don’t think anyone would argue that the physical movements themselves are sinful (or maybe they would) but then we come back to the question. If using yoga just as exercise is it okay?
My second question is if yoga falls into the category of things that are okay but not if it causes a “weaker brother” to sin (1 Corinthians 8 principles). My Pastor is preaching through 1 Corinthians and on this passage said that whenever the weaker brother becomes stronger, they will then be able to do those things. I thought maybe yoga did not fall in that category because I think the people who are opposed to yoga hold it as a conviction they will keep. If it is in that category, does that mean I am strong enough to do yoga without sinning and others need to mature? Does this mean I am a stronger Christian than Albert Mohler? How do I keep from doing yoga in a way that would cause others to sin? Maybe I am playing with fire and just barely avoiding the downfall from practicing yoga?
I will note that when I do yoga I choose programs that do not speak much (if at all) about the spiritual side. I am careful to weed out what they are saying and focus on the movement and not the philosophy. If a certain program is too hokey I don’t do it.
I follow my conscience as we all must. The confusing thing to me is how different people’s consciences can lead them to different convictions!