Many Christians in the West are ignorant about the history and philosophy behind yoga. For them yoga is simply a means of physical exercise, and strengthening and improving flexibility of the muscles.
However, the philosophy behind yoga is much more than physically improving oneself. It is an ancient and divine practice derived from India, believed to be the journey to spiritual growth and enlightenment.
The word â€˜YOGA’ means â€˜UNION’ and the aim of it is to unite one’s temporary self with the infinite Brahman, the Hindu concept of God. Many Christians believe and think that yoga originated with a blatantly anti-Christian philosophy. It teaches one to focus on himself or herself instead of on the one true God. It encourages its practioners to seek the answers to life’s difficult questions within their own conscience instead of in the Word of God. Hinduism says that â€˜God is within You’, but in Christianity the concept of God and man is completely different.
Dr. K.L. Seshagiri Rao, editor of the Encyclopedia of Hinduism,” says some Christians think doing yoga will turn them into Hindus or fear yoga will cause them to question their religious beliefs. Rao says yoga means “joining” or “yoking” – whether it is the body to the mind, the individual to the universe or the soul to Godâ€¦ Such control enables them to become better peopleâ€¦Yoga can be beneficial to everyone, no matter what religion they are.â€
But Dr. Russell Bush, academic vice president at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, says, Christian yoga is a superficial connection and a form of syncretism, or the combination of two different beliefs. If such trends continue Christianity will lose its distinguishing featuresâ€¦Yoga is incompatible with Christianity because it means attaining a meditative state, which empties the mind, whereas Christian prayer is a conscious interchange with God.â€
After all it teaches every individual a way to lead a peaceful life. But still some contradictions, confusions arise due to its mysticism or any other reason. So due to all these doubts, Christian yoga is developed to open the door to some who are wary of the ancient Hindu practice.
Christian yoga is an attempt to explains how yoga can help Christians feel physically closer to God. And it tells Yoga is beyond religion and who rise doubts about it, is simply the fearful attitude of some fundamentalists.
In the conclusion the invaluable discipline of Hinduism declares that when one looks deep at yoga, it really belongs to world religion and world spirituality.