The New York Times and the USA Today have both published news stories regarding the spirituality of yoga and the implications its practice has for Christians. According to the NYT, a group of Hindu Americans are attempting to reclaim the Hindu heritage of the practice, saying its campaign to “Take Back Yoga” intends to remind people of yoga’s ancient Hindu traditions. Although the group says it isn’t expecting all yoga-practitioners to become Hindu, the campaign has drawn fire from Christians and New Agers alike. Deepak Chopra apparently disregards the campaign as “faulty history and Hindu nationalism,” while seminary president Albert Mohler says yoga is incompatible with Christianity, agreeing with other Christian leaders such as Pat Robertson and John MacArthur. Even Muslim leaders forbid the practice of yoga in certain areas of central Asia and Africa. But if USA Today’s citation of a poll showing almost 7% of Americans practicing yoga is correct, the concern about the spiritual implications of the activity is very relevant to congregations today. A quick search of the Internet also brings up several “Christian yoga” organizations who clearly see no conflict.
What do you think? What, if any, are the spiritual complications for Christians in the practice of yoga? What related concerns are there for church leaders and their congregations?