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Should Christians practice yoga?
October 11th, 2010
06:05 PM ET

Should Christians practice yoga?

Editor's Note: Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary recently asked on his blog, should Christians should practice yoga? That post got picked up by the Associated Press and led to a lot of discussion on the topic.  In this story from CNN Affiliate KLTV in Tyler Texas, a yoga instructors and student, who happened to be practicing Christians, voice their disagreement with Mohler.

Does practicing yoga compromise your Christian faith? That question is at the center of a debate made by the Southern Baptist Seminary president. Christians that practice yoga say two have little to do with each other.

Tanya Wood is a yoga instructor at the Yoga Spot in Tyler. She has been practicing yoga for eight years. "It makes you feel good, strong and flexible," said Wood. "It really does allow you to just wind down."

But, recent comments made by Southern Baptist Seminary President Albert Mohler has Wood wound up. "It's clear it's struck a nerve," said Mohler. "I hope at least it's a fruitful conversation."

In his online blog, Mohler said, "Christians who participate in yoga are embracing, or at minimum flirting with a spiritual practice that threatens to transform their own spiritual lives."

"I totally disagree," said Wood. "I'm a Christian. I was saved when I was five-years-old. I have never practiced anything that would compromise my beliefs."

Mohler said that people should see yoga represents and see that it conflicts with Christianity. "This is totally separate," said Wood. "It has nothing to do with religion. What we practice has nothing to do with religion."

Read the full story and see the video from KLTV here.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Culture & Science • Hinduism • United States

soundoff (119 Responses)
  1. Peace2All

    So, am I missing something here...? How is the physical practice 'yoga' possibly a harm or threat to someone...?

    Just curious.... Anyone care to explain that one.....?

    October 12, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
    • Raison

      @Peace2all

      Severe injury may result with any physical form of exercise. As a martial artist, you should know that.
      (left out a crucial word or two didn't ya? 😀 )

      October 12, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
    • Kate

      Having seen pictures of the positions yogatians get in to, I can well believe it's a physical threat! I've seen spaghetti that's seemed less tangled!

      The flip side however is watching guys doing yoga – some of them look rather yum!

      Just notin'

      October 12, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Raison & @Kate

      I really wanted to hear from the 'fundies'... dag nabit..! I had my 'trap' set... was just 'trollin' along... waiting for them to 'bite'.... But.... nooooooooooooo.... you guys... had to come along and spoil it. Arrrrrggghhhhh !!!! 🙂

      October 13, 2010 at 2:00 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Raison

      And... thanks for reminding me of my injuries that I have suffered with in the dojo doing martial arts.. OUCH..!!! 🙂

      October 13, 2010 at 3:10 am |
    • Raison

      @Peace2all

      Your head still hurts? You should not mess with those fundies, then. Banging your head against a wall is not really considered a complicated attack / defense move.
      ha!

      October 13, 2010 at 3:19 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Raison

      Ya' know, your buddy MIKE, already went after me today on the 'banging our heads against the wall' thing regarding debating with him.

      And now ... you...?

      Careful, I will call MIKE up and have him 'speak in tongues' at you for as long as you are posting...

      Ha HA... TAKE THAT...! 🙂

      October 13, 2010 at 3:25 am |
    • Kate

      @peace2all

      And you called me evil for threats of sending Jehovah's Witlesses around!

      Just comparin'

      October 13, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Huffington Post
      A question about the Christian view of yoga. A concerned viewer asked, "Does it really have its origins in evil?" Pat Robertson gave the verdict: Yes! According to Pat, stretching is fine, but by repeating common yoga mantras, you are actually praying to Hindu gods Vishnu and Krishna and you're not even aware of it!

      October 13, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  2. Melissa

    Yes, yoga is most definitely a spiritual form of exercise. One of the goals is to feel your "chi."

    October 12, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      Chi is Chinese, as in Kung Fu. Yoga comes from India, as in curry food.

      October 12, 2010 at 5:53 pm |
  3. Bob

    NAH, religion doesn't control your life.

    October 12, 2010 at 9:21 am |
  4. Mike

    Does anyone else see the irony here? Mohler post something on his blog for people who had a question and I am guessing no one has read or Randy's blog.

    Then he gets slammed for giving his opinion in a blog by other giving their opinions in a blog that say he should not being giving his opinion in a blog, at least that is their opinion

    How what he wrote worst then "Just do whatever your priest tells you to and shut down all critical thinking skills for as long as you live."
    Since not all Christians have priest?

    October 12, 2010 at 9:18 am |
  5. HisOwn

    I am a Christian and I see nothing wrong with yoga. It is just meditating and getting in tune with your inner self. Good time to spend some quiet time with God, for me. He did say "be quiet, and know that I am the Lord." I think its very healthy and see nothing that conflicts with any religous beliefs.

    @Randy Nice website you have! I am going to re visit it later and read more.

    October 12, 2010 at 8:03 am |
    • Randy

      @HisOwn,

      Thanks

      October 12, 2010 at 8:14 am |
  6. Randy

    @Peace2All,

    I tried three times to reply to your question, but obviously a long reply gets moderated. I am assuming that it will show up eventually.

    October 12, 2010 at 6:24 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Randy

      No problem.... You have to know the word or word c o mbinations that will get your comments flagged.

      So, if you are still around, I would love to hear your response.

      Thanks...

      October 13, 2010 at 3:12 am |
    • Raison

      s-ex
      c-um
      sp-ic
      ho-mo
      t-it
      an-al
      sh-it
      fu-ck
      crap
      who-re

      ok = ass
      YEAH!

      October 13, 2010 at 3:26 am |
    • Raison

      ra-pe

      October 13, 2010 at 3:27 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Raison

      LOL...!!!! Now, all we have to do is to get KATE to 'crack' and spill here secrets of getting around the 'filters.'

      Do you know how she does it...? I took some time and tried, and it didn't work. We must conspire to help her see the light..

      I do know she has a real fondness for having 'jehovah witnesses' showing up at her door. We can send a few over...?

      October 13, 2010 at 3:34 am |
    • Raison

      anal

      October 13, 2010 at 3:35 am |
    • Raison

      @Peace2all
      LOL
      What timing! That anal wasn't meant at you, although.....
      LOL
      I had thought that crap was one but found that it was ra-pe instead...and here anal goes thru quite easily!

      Just testin'

      btw, Kate refuses to share...she, for some crazy and no doubt ridiculous reason, does not want a bunch of "14 year olds" (i think she said) to have such an easy time when trying to say "bad words"....but it's okay if she goes around "hypocritin'" I guess...!!!!

      It's a good trick, sure...but she should at least tell us how. I suspect, after much time searching, that it involves a plug-in.
      If so, I will not be using it anyway. I hate plug-ins. I hate Java, too. I'm really old-fashioned that way....

      Just complainin'

      October 13, 2010 at 3:42 am |
    • Raison

      nig

      October 13, 2010 at 3:49 am |
    • Raison

      nig-ger
      cu-nt
      b-itch
      provoke

      October 13, 2010 at 3:51 am |
    • test

      anus

      October 13, 2010 at 4:04 am |
    • Kate

      @Raison

      A plugin? A PLUGIN?? You malign me sorely! I wouldn't be seen dead using a plugin! Oh what a sorry state of affairs has come to pass when such dire imprecations are tossed around so casually!

      Just sobbin'

      October 13, 2010 at 12:21 pm |
  7. Randy

    For some reason my last comment is still floating around in "awaiting moderation" limbo.

    @cavepoet,

    I can see how my article might be taken as "fundamentalist", but I tried to not to flavor it as such. Essentially, I believe that salvation is through Christ,and Christ alone. With that said, I do not assume that God does not have a plan to bring those of other religions into that salvation through Christ, even if it might be done post-mortum.

    I believe in the superiority of Christianity over other religions which is the primary reason that I am not a Buddhist, or Taoist, or Muslim. Therefore, I do not believe that syncretization is a good idea, which as I posted in my comment that is still in "limbo" is what the New Age movement is all about.

    October 12, 2010 at 6:19 am |
    • David

      Lol, Randy you make it sound like you studied all the religions of the world and then selected Christianity because it was the best. Admit it, you no more chose Christianity than you choose your parents. Indoctrination is not enlightenment.

      October 12, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
    • pete

      Choosing Christianity or any other religion doesn't mean you're indoctrinated. You can just choose. I chose a pair of pants this morning that i bought from old navy. I did not research pants from macy's or Wal-mart. I just chose to get these.

      May i also add that Christianity teaches/preaches/ believes that we have the free will to chose as we please. We all have to live with what consqueneces (sp) (worst speller in the world, they need spell check on here) come from our desicions.

      October 12, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
    • Randy

      @David,

      Actually, I DID study most of the world religions before deciding on Christianity. Having grown up in an abusive religious cult, I did NOT choose Christianity because of my parents, in fact I was strongly biased against Christianity for many, many years and spent a good portion of that time examining the claims of the of the differing world religions before choosing Christ. I did so because I became convinced that the resurrection of Christ was based in historical fact.

      October 12, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Randy

      What historical fact might that be, other than the not so factual gospels?

      October 13, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
  8. cavepoet

    I read Randy's link. He does take a slightly less fundamental approach and poses a more moderate warning about yoga than Mohler apparently did. Randy's advice to educate yourself about dualism and gnosticism before participating in yoga is interesting. Otherwise, with all that stretching and meditating... you might open up your ump-teenth chakra and get the idea that there's more than one god and that he (or she) might be reachable thru some path other than Jesus and the bible.
    I doubt that Randy or even Mohler have taken this stance for their own self-servitude (as Kate above suggested). I think, in general, most devout Christians are truly concerned for the salvation of others. But....
    @Randy
    Do you not think that your article is "fundamentalist"? I'm not calling names. I'm just trying to understand your definition of "Fundamentalist". I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian church (a few hours west on Interstate 20 from you). I definitely see your article as "less" fundamentalist than apparently Mohler's was. But I still recognize it as fundamentalist.

    October 12, 2010 at 5:49 am |
    • Frank

      You can believe in chakras and not have your faith in Christ destroyed. All chakras are are energy vortexes on the body. We DO give off energy, you know – 'good vibes', 'bad vibes'. Matter is really just sound vibrating to certain frequencies. What do you think the Bible meant when it said that God spoke creation into being? 'OM' is just the sound of creation in Hinduism (notice the similiarity between 'OM' and 'AM' – 'I AM'). There's a bit of truth in all religions.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
  9. Randy

    As a Christian who is NOT a fundamentalist, I understand where Mohler is coming from, although I think his blanket prohibition makes him look like, well, a fundamentalist. I wrote more on this
    here.

    October 12, 2010 at 3:14 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Randy

      You said....." I understand where Mohler is coming from." I did not go to your link, but if you come back here, if you would be kind enough to elaborate a bit further on that comment of yours, I would greatly appreciate it. As you have piqued my curiosity.

      Thanks...

      October 12, 2010 at 3:34 am |
  10. Kate

    In his online blog, Mohler said, "Christians who participate in yoga are embracing, or at minimum flirting with a spiritual practice that threatens to transform their own spiritual lives."

    Translation: "Anyone doing Yoga might come to the conclusion they don't need ministers to get in touch with their spiritual side and therefore put us out of a job and then we'd have to work for a living and never get the mansions, private jets, and bentleys we, the pastors, have come to think of as our right"

    Just sayin'

    October 12, 2010 at 12:42 am |
    • adams

      how many pastors in america do you think have bentleys kate?

      October 13, 2010 at 11:02 am |
    • Kate

      @adams

      At least one that I can think of, but yes you're right.

      They prefer Cadillacs.

      The longer the better.

      My bad.

      Just correctin'

      October 13, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
    • adams

      i guess we personally associate with different pastors

      October 13, 2010 at 12:25 pm |
    • Kate

      @adams

      I try not to associate with any of them, to be quite honest. The large majority of them are in it for their own egos.

      I'll grant you that there may be a core of pastors who actually believe what they preach and represent, but until they start loudly denouncing and rejecting the hate of the Westboro Baptist Church, or deal with those who are in it for their own personal fame and glory like Pat Robertson or Franklin Graham, then those few "genuine" pastors condone through their silence.

      Just shruggin'

      October 13, 2010 at 8:58 pm |
    • adams

      yeah your entire rant up there displayed that you don't associate with many pastors, even though you claim to know the character of the majority of them. you see what i'm saying?

      October 13, 2010 at 11:22 pm |
    • Kate

      @adams

      Don't need to associate with them when you can see them and hear them from a safe distance. As for silence equals condoning – when was the last time you saw a Baptist condemning Westboro from the pulpit, on TV, or standing the line in front of those screwballs?

      Don't like the conclusions, do something about the things your fellows get up to. Unless of course that'd be shooting yourself in the foot ...

      By your words shall you know them, by their actions shall you judge them, and by their impassioned cries for donations shall you know how many bathrooms in their mansions.

      Just sayin'

      October 14, 2010 at 3:03 pm |
  11. Daisy the non-terrorist

    Okay, everybody! Stretch your arms out until you can touch the walls! LOL

    October 12, 2010 at 12:01 am |
  12. Little Timmy

    Why are they pretending to be airplanes when they are sitting down?

    October 11, 2010 at 11:57 pm |
    • Kate

      @Little Timmy

      Because if they did it standing up and lost control, they'd crash harder of course. Silly question.

      Just sayin'

      October 12, 2010 at 12:43 am |
  13. Meerdog

    Christians should only practice yoga until they get it right.

    October 11, 2010 at 11:47 pm |
    • pete

      ha!

      October 12, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
  14. Reality

    Said topic is beyond inane!!!

    October 11, 2010 at 11:33 pm |
  15. Frank

    Does it really matter what Mohler, a fundementalist Baptist, thinks on this subject? He probably thinks Hindus will burn in hell.

    October 11, 2010 at 10:55 pm |
  16. Woody

    The fundies never fail to disappoint. It's the best comedy show in the US. Just when you think they couldn't possibly come up with another way to get a one way ticket to hell, they start in on yoga. It must have something to do with the Lotus position. Every good Christian knows that the missionary position is the only one acceptable.

    October 11, 2010 at 10:49 pm |
    • Kate

      @Woody

      What I want to know is how do they know what the missionary position is (in any other context than sending people out to be eaten by cannibals) – they're supposed to keep the lights off, so where did they see it to learn it??

      Just wonderin'

      October 12, 2010 at 12:39 am |
    • Bill C.

      Yoga comes from Hindu, and it really is at least partly a religious practice there. As much as I may dislike fundamentalist Christianity, they aren't entirely wrong here.

      October 12, 2010 at 11:15 am |
    • teamhren

      Hey, I never read anything about keeping the lights off...

      October 13, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
  17. David Johnson

    Perhaps Pat was wearing his cup incorrectly...

    October 11, 2010 at 8:53 pm |
    • Luke

      His thick layer of fat protected him from low blows and demons too.

      October 11, 2010 at 8:55 pm |
  18. David Johnson

    Pat Robertson once warned against the practice of Karate. It seems the pract_itioner is in danger of inhaling demon spirits

    October 11, 2010 at 8:52 pm |
    • Raison

      @David Johnson
      He should have warned us against the practice of Kate instead. Did you see what she did?

      October 12, 2010 at 12:16 am |
    • Kate

      @Raison

      Hey! No warning the pseudo-fundie!

      Just facepalmin'

      October 12, 2010 at 12:36 am |
    • Raison

      @David Johnson *(a.k.a. God's thorn)

      That was a good post back there. I thought it might be more useful to tell you about it up here, though. All that back and forthing and scrolling gets really old on those looong threads...
      It was that good. Cheers!

      October 12, 2010 at 2:03 am |
  19. Kate

    Hmmm, didn't some radical Muslim extremist Imam in Indonesia make the same pronouncement a few months ago?

    I'm not saying Baptists and radical Islam have anything in common, but ...

    Just sayin'

    October 11, 2010 at 8:00 pm |
    • Raison

      @Kate

      "Don't delay, vote neigh!"

      That is just.......aaarrrrggghhhh! You.....! You....!
      And here I thought your post about Paladino was serious!
      Ohhh, you need a special punishment, you do.....!

      And I still cannot post comments on your blog or even see them. No java, see? c[_] My cup is empty. Should I call the nearest Starbucks for tech support? What do you think? Would they help me?

      But I like what you did with the place. It looks very homey. Very moldy, too, if I may say so. Like my house. But more comfortable.

      Just neigh-sayin'

      October 11, 2010 at 11:41 pm |
    • Kate

      @Raison

      I thought it was serious! That guy should be running the teamsters, or a waste haulage business, not running for Governor of anything!

      I'm not sure why you're not seeing the comments system though – it should be defaulting to the normal system by now for those w/o java. *sigh* And it's such a nice system too, much better than CNN's!

      Just frownin'

      October 11, 2010 at 11:57 pm |
    • Raison

      @Kate

      Don't worry about the default stuff. I can whack you over the head here as well as there.
      😛

      Just whackin'

      October 12, 2010 at 12:14 am |
    • Kate

      @Raison

      Only if you avoid using bad words in the process, like tit 🙂

      Just showin' off

      October 12, 2010 at 12:37 am |
    • Raison

      @Kate

      Just showin' off your tlt, eh? See one tlt, you see em all.... 😛

      Just tltterin'

      October 12, 2010 at 12:42 am |
    • knock

      just one, eh?

      October 12, 2010 at 12:48 am |
    • Raison

      @Kate

      Your filter-bypassing skills have already cost me much time in trying to find out how you did it. I am extremely jealous.

      Just jellin' with jealousy

      October 12, 2010 at 12:54 am |
    • Kate

      @knock

      It's the internet, maybe the one is just mirrored?

      @Raison

      I'm innocent! It's all David Johnson's fault!

      Just horsin' around

      October 12, 2010 at 1:07 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Kate

      Whoooooa..... You are a magician... O.K .... spill the beans, how did you by-pass the moderation filters....? 🙂

      Fess up...! You don't get to always play with the cool toys.! Share.. Do tell..

      October 12, 2010 at 7:12 am |
    • Kate

      @peace2all

      You just have to have a little faith ...

      *grins and runs*

      Just laffin'

      October 12, 2010 at 10:32 am |
  20. Luke

    Read the headline. Didn't need to go any further. If you have to ask the question and spent more than a microsecond pondering the pros and cons of the situation, just don't bother thinking on your own ever again. Just do whatever your priest tells you to and shut down all critical thinking skills for as long as you live.

    October 11, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
    • Swami Param

      Everyone should know that real Yoga is Hinduism–this is fact. If one wants to study Hinduism/Yoga, fine, but do not be deceived.
      Swami Param
      Classical Yoga Hindu Academy

      October 15, 2010 at 10:11 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.