Holy yoga – What is it?

Holy yoga or Christian yoga is essentially an attempt at Christianizing the Hindu practice of yoga. Several mainline liturgical and Protestant churches sponsor or host yoga, but holy yoga is a relatively recent development in evangelical churches.

Yoga was developed as a Hindu spiritual practice to help followers realize a deep knowledge of Self in an effort to unite with the all-pervading Brahman. Though in the Western world yoga is presented as a physical exercise or form of stress management, holy yoga attempts to repurpose the spiritual aspects of yoga for Christian goals. Holy yoga talks about seeking knowledge of Self, but in Christ. During holy yoga sessions, Christian music is played and Bible verses are chanted.

Yoga is clearly pagan in origin. But is it something that can be transformed to have spiritual value for a Christian? There are a few things to consider:

The focus of yoga is on Self. The Bible calls us to die to self and live for Christ (Matthew 16:24). Though God's creation is amazing, wonderful, beautiful, and sometimes spectacular, it is the Creator we are to focus upon, not the creation.

Yoga teaches that all we need is within ourselves and that we are a god, or at least godly. This cannot be made to be Christian. God exists without anything else. Our connection with God is primarily through His initiation (1 John 4:10). It is not through our effort or willpower we are able to connect with God, but through Jesus Christ only (John 14:6). God provided us His Word (2 Timothy 3:16–17), not physical stretches or exercise.

The Christian mysticism cloaked as yoga devalues Bible study and prayer in favor of experience and effort. Breathe control and body position are not related to true spiritual and mental health. The Bible says we can be falling apart physically and yet undergo daily renewal: "… Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day" (2 Corinthians 4:16).

Meditation, a cornerstone of New Age and Eastern mysticism, is also a foundation of yoga, along with visualization, controlled breathing, and chanting. Holy yoga applies Christian ideals to these themes. But even in applying thoughts of Jesus, the cross, or some other Christian focus, holy yoga still uses transcendental meditation and other New Age mind-altering techniques. Clearing our minds is not biblical.

Holy yoga is a spiritually dangerous practice and is likely best avoided.

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