Practicing yoga is known for its health benefits across the board. However, aside from the physical and mental health improvements commonly associated with yoga, what about the spiritual side of yoga practice? Is practicing yoga a sin?
Dozens of people from varying backgrounds have weighed in on this particular scenario, so there are multiple viewpoints. Is one person right? If so, how are you supposed to know which person is correct? We’re here to discuss these questions, so continue reading to learn more!
Is Yoga A Religion?
First things first, we need to answer the bigger question here: is yoga a religion? If it is, then the answer to the main query is simple, as practicing an entirely separate religion alongside doesn’t align with most religious beliefs.
Although yoga has ties with religion, it isn’t (and never has been) a religion in its own right. It shares many links with various religions in the aspect of personal contemplation, but many of the similarities end there.
Yoga doesn’t have its own formal creed, set of rituals, or obligations. It doesn’t hold any type of religious structure in itself, so it isn’t necessarily a religion. That said, it could be called a spiritual practice but not a religious one.
Ties To Religion
Many people who practice yoga do so simply for health and wellness benefits. There’s an abundance of scientific evidence that connects yoga to improved health and well-being, and many practicing individuals attest to this evidence.
While yoga isn’t a religion itself, it does have religious roots. Yoga historically stems from Hinduism but also has ties with Jainism and Buddhism. The religious roots reflect in how many Buddhists and Hindus practice yoga, often chanting the sacred mantra ‘Om’ during meditation.
‘Om’ supposedly echoes the sound of harmony in the universe. Although this chant is commonly associated with Buddhism and Hinduism, other individuals may chant it without being part of the religion. The mantra itself isn’t necessarily religious but instead focuses on the connectivity between individuals.
In modern yoga, the religious aspects have seeped out, leaving a practice that is primarily free of religious ties. Despite this, yoga continues to retain its roots in contemplation and reflection. Religious or not, yogis can experience the sense of self and peace that goes hand-in-hand with yoga.
Is Yoga Simply An Exercise Or A Pagan Hindu Religious Practice?
Before we dive into the specifics of what’s allowed, it’s essential to address this question: is yoga just an exercise? Can the physical aspect of yoga be isolated from the spirituality that is often associated with it and might be the foundation of the act in Eastern religions?
Many people view yoga solely as an exercise, often failing to note the religious and spiritual ties the practice can have. They practice yoga as a way to challenge their body and mind, forging mind-to-muscle connections, building strength and endurance, and bolstering their health.
In this sense, yoga can be viewed simply as an exercise. However, it might not be as simple for those who are aware of yoga’s background. So, it comes down to a fundamental question: Is the tree pose (or any other pose) a way to worship a foreign god in the sun, sky, or otherwise, or is it simply an exercise of balance and control?
It all depends on the way you look at it. If you choose to use yoga as a way to worship a pagan god, then yes, it could be considered a pagan religious practice. However, if you isolate yoga to the basic, fundamental movements, then, no, it isn’t a pagan religious practice.
Is Yoga Allowed In Christianity?
There’s a swirling pool of debate here, as some folks argue that yoga is tied to other religions and therefore banned. There are articles out there that list quotes from the bible and connect them to how yoga is unsuitable for Christians. However, other individuals argue the benefits and uses of yoga are entirely unrelated to Christian faith, or any religion, for that matter.
Many Christians do yoga without an issue. Modern Western culture disassociates yoga with religion almost entirely, understanding it as a simple notion of the intertwined connection between the body and mind.
However, some folks may use yoga as a way to feel closer to the higher power they believe in. So, in a sense, yoga can be considered religious, especially if you practice it with this in mind. Building on this, practicing yoga might not be a good idea if you aren’t supported by a strong foundation of good teaching in your faith.
The controversy between yoga and religion can be complicated, muddying the waters of right and wrong. With good counsel and a clear understanding of your faith and morals, you can decide whether yoga is something you feel comfortable doing as a Christian.
To answer the question – yes, yoga can be allowed in Christianity, but it comes down to how you practice. If you practice yoga as a physical act instead of a spiritual or religious act, you might not have any qualms about the practice. However, faith and religion are personal journeys, so whether it’s suitable for you is ultimately up to you and your beliefs.
Is Yoga Allowed In Catholicism?
Catholicism is similar to Christianity, although there are clear separations between the beliefs about the sacraments, the importance of the Virgin Mary and the saints, the roles of the Bible and tradition, and the papacy. However, despite these differences, the two have numerous similarities.
Many Catholics share the same or similar views as dozens of Christians on the topic of yoga. Although some folks vehemently argue the dangers of practicing yoga due to its connections to other religions, others disagree wholeheartedly.
Those that find no fault in the practice argue that the actual physical aspect of yoga isn’t dependent on any particular Eastern religion. Although the moves are rooted in several religious practices, the modern form doesn’t necessarily connect to those roots if you choose to practice the exercise for precisely that – exercise.
Some folks in favor of practicing yoga as an exercise mention the disconnect between yoga and other exercises. They argue that if yoga is interconnected with intrinsic evil, all other exercises must be the same, as someone could interpret them as a way to worship other gods or deities, which contradicts the teachings of Catholicism.
However, there are many dissenting views. Those who disagree with practicing yoga as a Catholic argue that the physical part of the practice is intrinsically intertwined with the spiritual aspect, so it is a pagan practice and should be recognized as such.
Various publications further support the dissent, arguing against yoga within Catholic doctrine and using several references from Catholic beliefs to support the argument.
Ultimately, the answer to this question remains up to you. As mentioned earlier, faith is an exceptionally personal journey held near and dear to the heart, so whether or not you practice yoga hinges on your personal beliefs and understandings of Catholocism.
If you’re unsure whether you should practice yoga or not, reach out to your priest for further assistance navigating the muddy waters that can surround this topic.
What Religion Is Yoga Not Allowed?
Certain religions advise against practicing yoga, but many don’t explicitly state yoga is prohibited. Of course, some churches and individuals have specific, strong feelings about yoga and banning it, but not everyone shares the same belief.
Many of those who advise against practicing yoga do so based on the practice’s religious ties to Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. Some folks bring pieces of scripture or words from prominent figures in the church, using them as the reasoning behind the ban.
So, you might see folks from nearly any religion arguing the risks of practicing yoga. At the same time, you could see other folks protesting that yoga itself doesn’t offer inherent risk in the physical aspect yet brings forth concerns in the spiritual part.
Or, you might come across individuals who don’t have any issue with yoga whatsoever, stating there aren’t any concerns that arise in a spiritual or religious sense from practicing yoga.
As mentioned earlier, religion and faith are very much personal journeys. Whether you practice yoga or not is entirely up to you, your beliefs, and your understanding of the connection (if any) between the practice and spiritual or religious ties.
Is Practicing Yoga A Sin?
To bring this article full circle, let’s return to the main question: is practicing yoga a sin? First, we need to understand that sin is the act of the will, requiring full knowledge and intent to complete the task.
If you intend to exercise by the way of yoga and nothing more, then no, practicing yoga isn’t a sin. Of course, this is entirely up to your interpretation and religious beliefs. Still, as a general consensus, it seems many folks don’t think yoga embodies a sinful spirit when practiced as an exercise and nothing more.