Yoga: Power Workout or Pagan Worship?

I am not a fan of yoga.  And it is less because it offends my Christian beliefs with its pagan god worshipping history, than the fact that it offends my body with its limb bending demands.  When I did my two tours of P90x, yoga is the only DVD I skipped. 

When I am doing Downward Dog though, am I worshipping a pagan god, or am I just stretching my hamstrings and lower back?  When I raise my hands together in Warrior Pose am I filling my lungs with rejuvenating oxygen, or am I giving praise to a false idol?

Some yoga facts:

The word yoga means, “To join or yolk together” and its purpose is to bring the body and mind together in harmony. 

There are over a hundred schools of yoga they are all built on the idea of combining exercise, breathing and meditation.

Stone carvings depicting figures in fundamental yoga poses date back 5000 years ago or more.

Yoga is not a religion.

Yes, you read that last fact correctly. Yoga itself is not a religion.  If yoga was a website, there would be no “What We Believe” page detailing creeds, or idols and gods that must be worshipped.

But, you may be asking, what about the idea that it is rooted in Eastern Religions?  Many world religions, such as Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism have adopted yoga as a part of their spiritual practice, and while yoga teachings spread from teacher to student through the years as Eastern religions incorporated yoga into their meditative practices, yoga actually predates the earliest religions by centuries.

This belief that yoga and the Eastern religions are as closely twined as yoga’s unity of body and mind is likely because yoga was first introduced to the western world in the mid-19th century by a Hindu teacher. It is understandable why westerners connected the two.  The fact that yoga is an integral part of Eastern religious practices give the illusion that its poses are used to worship to Eastern gods.

Some Christians, like New Age specialist Doug Groothius, a professor at Denver Seminary believe, “all forms of yoga involve occult assumptions.”  This opinion is shared by other Christian groups as well, believing that by engaging in yoga you are adopting the beliefs of Eastern religions, and are worshipping false idols. 

So, when I can actually make it through a yoga DVD without toppling to the ground like a game of Twister gone bad, am I turning my back on my Christian God when I am doing Downward Dog or am I simply stretching my hamstrings and lower back?  When I bow in Child’s Pose, am I bowing to the Eastern gods or am I resting in a gentle stretch? 

No matter what some Christians believe, for me, when I perform yoga I am stretching, and strengthening and lengthening my limbs, and am not praising Eastern gods, or false idols.  If I actually can get my mind off of the contortion my body is fighting to perform, I am praying to God, my Christian God, to give me the strength and peace to get through the workout, just like I do when I’m trying to get that last rep in the weight room, or that last half mile on my run. 

Is yoga an exercise of choice for you? Why or why not?

When performing the moves, do you meditate with Christian praise?

Be Strong!


P.S.- Do you know about the “100 Dresses- Let’s Bring Classy Back!” Campaign? If not, click here!

After Melinda Patton’s daughter moved away to college, she decided she had no more excuses keeping her from being in shape.  Three years and 55 pounds ago she began a journey to become spiritually and physically strong and in the process discovered her passion and purpose in forging faith and fitness.  She is now studying for her Personal Training certification and manages a facebook page called Strength for the Journey; Forging Faith and Fitness. Through her page, she encourages and empowers others to create strong and healthy bodies for Christ.

© 2012, Shalena D.I.V.A. – Author| Speaker| Life And Business Coach. All rights reserved.


  1. Alice Beatty via Facebook on June 20, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    This debate has been on-going for many years..I can remember hearing about this as a littel child.. People are still divided and confused then as they are now..It’s an ancient practice, which does not indicate necessarily that it is pagan… #comeinoutofthedark

  2. Nicole Stith via Facebook on June 20, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I tried to compromise with myself by doing the poses and praying, but I still didn’t feel quite right doing that. I decided not to do so because it still didn’t sit well with me. #personaldecision

  3. Jessica Fields Wright via Facebook on June 20, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Wow…this is a deep debate. I just think that God knows ur heart and honestly many people do yoga for exercising purposes…not as a practice of worship. So if u r a Christian I don’t think it is wrong to do yoga as an exercise. But if u don’t feel comfortable doing it then that’s cool but please don’t judge the Chriatians that do do it.

  4. DuClair IstheOne via Facebook on June 20, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Its more than just yoga that’s out there with a paganistic connection. Sad to say. A lot of ppl who are religous or in some denomination don’t know what they are affiliating themselves with.

  5. Michael Grayson via Facebook on June 20, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    God is in your mind. That’s where he dwells. If he’s not in thoughts, then where is he in your life?

  6. Laticia Ashby-Mcdaniels via Facebook on June 20, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    i don’t think its wrong, while u doing yoga u is meditating. if u a christian u meditate on GOD. that’s just like when they took praying outta school, if u meditating or praying to GOD in ur head & heart, no one don’t know. u have to be strong i ur FAITH with GOD, no what is right, & what is important to GOD!!!!!!!

    • laura on July 13, 2012 at 1:13 am

      THANK YOU! I am a Christian–Pentecostal too! And yoga stretches are THE ONLY thing that feels good to my poor old back. I am off pain pills and out of the doctors office b/c I stretch—ain’t no devil in it! This is crazy.

  7. Sarah L Murdaugh via Facebook on June 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    99% percent of the holidays we practice have pagan roots…are they gonna stop celebrating them too….

  8. Rochelle Bacon Henriene via Facebook on June 20, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    i know nothing about yoga….so if im excercisin and INSTEAD OF READN my BIBLE….AM I SINNIN..???????

  9. Hey, all, this is Melinda, author of the article. I am loving the discussion!! Thanks for joining in. 🙂

  10. DivaMarie Hollenbach via Facebook on June 20, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Look, the way I read MY Word, I get this……Do you. Our Father judges us all individually. Divinely toned or Blessedly Plump, He loves us all.

  11. Felicia Imdoinme Konan via Facebook on June 20, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Your body is your temple…..I choose for the holy spirit to dwell in a temple that does yoga; walks 3~4 miles a day……Meditation is not worshiping a Pagan God to me……:)

  12. Alicia Williams via Facebook on June 20, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Funny this topic came up again….I actually went to yoga class last Saturday. I felt so good mentally & physically afterwards. I took that hour away from kids, family & just life, for this class. I was in deep mediation w my god & I am soooo glad that i did. With my busy life it’s hard to get as much quiet time w god as I would like to. I think it’s a wonderful thing as long as you know whom u are worshipping

  13. via Facebook on June 20, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    @Diva–what scripture says “do you?” LOL! You crack me up!

  14. Sarah L Murdaugh via Facebook on June 20, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    lol, I agree with Marie…DO YOU!

  15. DivaMarie Hollenbach via Facebook on June 20, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” King James Version. The Diva’s Version: Do you, and make yourself worthy of My Judgement. If King James can have a version, so can a Diva.

  16. Rochelle Bacon Henriene via Facebook on June 20, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    small god…small letters…BIG GOD…BIG LETTERS…I C A BIG GOD….NOT A LIL ONE

  17. DivaMarie Hollenbach via Facebook on June 20, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Put a different way….I can’t do yoga because its pagan, but MY KIDS love those costumes every October 31, and those presents every December 25.

  18. via Facebook on June 20, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    @Diva, you are so witty! I love it!

  19. Mike Brulee via Facebook on June 20, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    What so witty about that, don’t make no sense..If they are selfish (The Diva’s Version), our fast will not be accepted by the Lord. We see this in Jeremiah 14:10 and 12, “Thus saith the Lord unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the Lord doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.”

  20. Rochelle Bacon Henriene via Facebook on June 20, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    do they wear BIBLICAL costumes or r they representn gangsters and killers….do they give a present to a child that wont get one…or do they keep ALL of them…anyone can have a version of the BIBLE…but…n the longggggggggggggggggggg run…only GODs word will stand and the one who buys is the one who will b held accountable…THEY R ONLY KIDS

  21. Rochelle Bacon Henriene via Facebook on June 20, 2011 at 3:03 pm


  22. DivaMarie Hollenbach via Facebook on June 20, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Ummmmm…..we went from yoga to fasting. Wow. PSA: The opinions expressed by DivaMarie Hollenbach are just that, her opinion, and not necesssarily the opinion of, or anyone else.

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