The Contested Practice of Yoga: A Christian Perspective

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By John Fitzgerald


The debate on the compatibility of yoga and Christianity has intensified in recent times, with the Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala, India, explicitly condemning the practice. This article examines the arguments presented by the church and explores the broader discourse surrounding yoga’s place within Christian faith.

The Syro-Malabar Church’s Position

  • The church’s doctrinal commission asserts that yoga, while possessing beneficial effects, cannot foster a closer relationship with God.
  • The report warns against conflating yoga’s outcomes with spiritual progress.
  • The church further contends that yoga is inextricably linked to Hindu religious beliefs and cannot be separated from its origins.
  • The commission emphasizes that the doctrine of yoga is beyond the comprehension of Christians and that its practices conflict with Christian teachings.

Christian Concerns

The Syro-Malabar Church’s stance aligns with broader Christian concerns regarding yoga’s potential impact on faith. Pope Francis has cautioned against seeking spiritual fulfillment through yoga, citing the risk of “spiritual accidents.”

Some Christian leaders, such as Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, have criticized the practice as incompatible with Christian beliefs. They argue that Christians who embrace yoga either deny its religious significance or fail to recognize its inherent contradictions with Christianity.

Perspectives on Yoga

Despite these concerns, many Christians continue to practice yoga, believing that its physical and mental benefits do not compromise their faith. However, it is essential to approach yoga with mindfulness, recognizing its potential for spiritual implications.

The practice of yoga has become increasingly popular in Western cultures, gaining widespread appeal for its purported health and wellness benefits. Its global market value stands at billions of dollars.


The debate on yoga’s compatibility with Christian faith continues to evolve. While some churches and Christian leaders express concerns, others embrace the practice with caution. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to engage in yoga rests on the individual Christian’s beliefs and understanding of their faith.

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