Posted on 22-10-2008
Filed Under (Yoga Ramble) by admin

I was born into Christian home and Yoga to some of them (Christians) is against our religion. I got upset when I was told about this but the curious me went ahead to join the Yoga empire 2 years ago and is able to prove them wrong!

The question is usually very standard. Just few weeks ago, I was in a heated argument with a Christian. The conversation goes like it. The opening line is quite standard. As usual! So I better write this down to share and to hear your opinion before I forgot the conversation line and obviously the computer memory is way better than the human memory. It started like this:

“Do you know Christians is not supposed to learn Yoga?”

“You are wrong about the fact.  Have you ever tried Yoga before?  I do not believe engaging in posture could lead us thru anything spiritual.”

“The posture itself is spiritual.”

“You mean by twisting like this and like that *hands was swinging in air* you called them spiritual?  This is what Christians always fear of.  If you believe in your faith, no matter what other things you do, you are still a Christian.  Nothing can change that.  I know some of them is quite spiritual like the meditating (I was about to say pranayama but since she know nuts  on Sanskrit I was fast enough to say meditating. hehe).  Well, I am just interested in the poses so whenever they do meditating or chant ‘aummmm’ I just watch them.  I find there is nothing wrong on Yoga.  It is purely for health.”

“Well, nowadays anything they do they always say it is for health.”

Let’s cut short the conversation cos I was so upset with it and my tone was kinda high.  So what you guys think?  Would love the feedback especially non buddhist readers.

(23) Comments   


tux on 22 October, 2008 at 12:09 pm #

I faced the same problem before – bro-in-law told me not to delve into Yoga as a Christian. My guess they don’t understand what Yoga is.

I don’t even think meditation is bad. On the contrary, I see prayer as a form of meditation as well.

Fei on 22 October, 2008 at 2:04 pm #

Christians not only can learn yoga, they can practice meditation and chanting too.

Christians can consider meditation as a form of worship, centered in love.

Pls read more about Christian meditation from the news below:
‘Minister enhances faith through meditation’

ggt on 22 October, 2008 at 6:25 pm #

I think learning yoga is a way to control our own mind, soul and body.To condition one self to be better person. It has nothing to do with religious and spiritual. What about the MAT SALLEH yoga masters or teachers we met??

strawberry on 22 October, 2008 at 10:45 pm #

i think ppl who relate Yoga as a religion is being ignorant.

molly on 23 October, 2008 at 3:00 pm #

Yes, i was told by my sister that Christians are not supposed to learn yoga when i told her i have started learning and invite her to join. She gave me a long lecture on the reasons. I have argued with her and told her the reasons she gave is no long able to apply in the current world. To me, learning yoga is a way to control our own, body and soul. It does help to give me more relieve in times of stress other than a fitter and healtier body.
Meditation, i feel that it got nothing to do with religion. I used meditation to calm down my mind, listen to my own breathing and heartbeat by forgetting the external cause for a moment…

magic queen on 23 October, 2008 at 5:04 pm #

I came acroos these before. Therefore, I never tell anybody I joining Yoga…..As I know they gonna to give me a lecture on these……for me God love, and He live in my heart…So what wrong if that….I only a pair of hand and pair of ear so can’t stop ppl talking about these then used my hand to close my ears…..

oliviasy on 23 October, 2008 at 6:20 pm #

yoga and religion are 2 different things. by practising yoga, one does not lose one’s faith 🙂 therefore, ur fren whom you got angry with (and u hv every right to be pissed bcos it was utter nonsense) is talking bollocks.

newbiz on 24 October, 2008 at 12:07 pm #

In those day (forefathers, grandmothers, grandfathers or whatever) yoga is all about deep meditation and mantras. That is why not many people are educated about the current trend of yoga. Some people still think its meditation and mantras and religiously linked to hinduism. That is why most christians what are not well versed with the current trend of yoga are oppose to it.

During one of my lesson at YZ Weld there was this indian man who came in for a trial class and was not happy with the yoga session. Reason being he told the teacher that he thought it was more of the meditation and mantras and he was expecting that. But when he saw the ‘yoga’ that was conducted only then did he realised it has become more of an exercise and fitness regime than a religious one…

yogi on 24 October, 2008 at 5:37 pm #

There is nothing in the bible that says you cannot practice yoga, however you need to watch your heart. If for example you spend so much time doing yoga (which when you get good at it you do) at the expense of worshipping God or spending time with God, then you may be “forsaking” God which is clearly a sin according to the bible. I do not believe Yoga positions themselves can be considered worship unless the heart is in it.

lee on 24 October, 2008 at 9:27 pm #

Aaahh? this is the first time I heard about this. Just can’t believe such a popular healty worldwide acceptable activity is ban due to religious reason. Thought all religion accept if not promote healty activity…

The Yoga Instructor on 28 October, 2008 at 12:02 am #

Hi Jess!

I had my share on this as while, and it is not easy being a Malay Muslim yoga instructor who is highly visible in KL and Malaysia 🙁

I was once interviewed LIVE on TV3 once and I had this caller saying something like, “How can you practice you when you are a Muslim? I have made researches about yoga for years and I concluded that one has to empty their minds when they practice yoga. Muslims have to think of God ALL THE TIME.”

I don’t really remember what I replied but I get this all the time.

Many of them who simply jump to conclusions i.e. To practice yoga, you have to believe in Hinduism, THEY HAVE NEVER TRIED YOGA. Or at gym, yoga center and non-ashram yoga places.

I wish they do and I wish more people just open their heart and mind to simply trying out yoga as I highly believe, our practice which emphasizes on kindness, compassion and patient IS IN EVERY RELIGION and if you understand yoga and take care of your body enough, we will all be better Muslims / Christians / human beings.

Kudos on the good topic 🙂 as always

Fei on 28 October, 2008 at 3:25 pm #

Hi Ninie,

I watched the TV3 interview in fact, There was about 2 years ago. I remember you can answered the question quite well.

Instead of empty the mind, I think practice yoga is to feel your body from posture alignment, feel your breath deep into your body, feel you are alive by hearing your heart pumping, feel the sweat and air touching your skin, feel the surrounding nature and living beings, eventually you can feel the presence of god.

Yogis always sense the presence of god.

catepillar on 29 October, 2008 at 3:02 pm #

Fei and Ninie both of u are right. For me yoga and religion are 2 different concepts. I am a Christian when I practice yoga, god is always in my heart and my mind. I dun feel upset if someone says I am not a real Christian cos I practice yoga. They are too narrow minded.

oliviasy on 29 October, 2008 at 4:54 pm #


YogaJess says: This is hot topic now! Nevermind, we send our yoga ambassador Cik Ninie to teach him some downward dog so that I can kick him from the backside.

Fei on 29 October, 2008 at 5:25 pm #

Jess, beware he can kick us back kuat kuat la 🙁

Hello Kitty on 30 October, 2008 at 2:08 am #

A Christian friend once explained that yoga teaches practitioners to empty their mind and control their body and spirit, but Christians are supposed to fill their mind, body and soul with the Holy Spirit, and that when the mind is emptied, Satan will come and attack (eg. obsession with yoga, your own body etc).

Anyway, I think that most teachers at YZ (or rather ex-YZ) teach yoga for health reasons. Sun salutation is taught/practised merely for the poses not with the purpose of worshipping the sun.

Lightworks is a no no for me becos the place is full of tarot card reading, spiritual consulting and other scary stuff.

xFree on 31 October, 2008 at 9:22 am #

As for me ?????????????

sailormoon on 1 November, 2008 at 11:58 am #

really hard to understand, aiya, just treat yoga as an exercise lar, why need to drag religion in leh.

Dumbfounded on 1 November, 2008 at 2:32 pm #

I’m totally dumbfounded when I hear people say don’t practice Yoga because of religion. Before I elaborate, let me give you a bit of history about myself.

I’m a Roman Catholic by birth (for those who don’t know, the Roman Catholic Church is universally acknowledged as the most orthodox, hardcore and rigid of all the churches). My parents are both devout Catholics; my mother received her education in a mission school run by Catholic nuns and brothers, and she was a teacher and taught for many years in a mission school. In fact my mother even thought about being a nun herself before she became a teacher. My grandmother (father’s mother) never missed a Sunday mass in her entire life, even when she became paralised due to a stroke. I was the one who brought her up to receive Holy Communion every Sunday as a child.

And despite coming from such a devoutly Catholic family, never did my parents, or any one of my relatives (who are also mostly Catholics) ever said anything negative about practicing Yoga, even the meditation part. No one in my family also had any objection in me following friends to Buddhist or Hindu temple or the Mosque to see how people from other religions practice their faith. When I brought my parents to visit Batu Caves we light fires at the alter and gave thanks, and never did it cross our mind that we are turning into Hindus; we were just paying our respects for entering a sacred ground. When we visited Buddhist Temples in Thailand we light incense and ask for good health and safe travel; never did we feel that we’re becoming Buddhist. When I followed my friend into a Mosque I sat one side and watch them perform their prayers (because I simply don’t know what to do even if they allowed me to pray with them), and then we shared a meal inside the mosque; never was I expected to perform any Islamic rituals, or asked if I wanted to convert.

I have checked, and there is absolutely nothing in the Catholic Church doctrine which forbids a Catholic from entering the places of worship of other religions, or partaking in their rituals, as long as we are not worshiping their God. Signs of paying respect, or asking for blessing, is perfectly ok.

Those who shun practices perceived to be ‘rituals’ of other faith are those not strong in their convictions, so they put others down to make themselves look more ‘devoted’. In the end, it is you and you alone who has to answer to God.

ting ting on 7 November, 2008 at 9:24 am #

well said, dumbfounded.

xFree on 8 November, 2008 at 9:56 am #

There is the differences between Catholic & Christian. Catholic can do everything althought there is difference religion but Christian cannot. Christian made ‘me’ think that they r liked Muslim.

Messy Christian on 9 November, 2008 at 1:43 pm #

I wrote about this topic a few years ago: http://www.messychristian.com/blog/archives/2004/10/is_yoga_unchris.htm

It’s unfortunate that some Christians don’t think things through before deciding that something is unChristian. I’ve been given the “Yoga is not Christian because it’s based on pagan beliefs” spiel, and I always tell them, “Like that stop celebrating Christmas and Easter. Because they’re based on pagan celebrations.”

Also, many Christians don’t realise that they’ve been practising simple Yoga poses all their lives. And how can stretching undermine your faith?

Messy Christian on 9 November, 2008 at 1:44 pm #

xfree – huh? 😉 That’s a strange way to differentiate Catholics and Protestants! Both sides have “dos and donts”.

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