Monday, 2 June 2014

To yoga or not to yoga, is the question

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I may be earning a 'reputation' for myself as a faith and lifestyle blogger who challenges the norm and always wants to find out the 'why'. Like the time I blogged about tattoos, I like to ask, "Is that really a sin? Or am I just afraid of what people will think?"
Lately, I have been slacking on exercise (amongst other things) and picked up yoga after I read this post by Jessi. About a year ago, if you had mentioned "yoga" near me I would have given you the your-soul-has-been-sold-to-the-devil look. I strongly believed that since yoga was from a different religion, it could not be-- for lack of a better word-- redeemed.
Then I started to read the Bible for myself and listen to God speak through Scripture and the first thing I felt God bring to my mind was this instance in Acts 10 (you may want to read the entire chapter):

"The next day as Cornelius’s messengers were nearing the town, Peter went up on the flat roof to pray. It was about noon, and he was hungry. But while a meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. Then a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.”“No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean.” But the voice spoke again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” The same vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was suddenly pulled up to heaven."

                                                                          - Acts 10:9-16 NLT

After the event described above, a Gentile sent for Peter, A Jew, to come preach the gospel of Christ to him. Any Jew who entered the house of a Gentile was considered unclean/impure as the Gentiles were considered unclean/impure. In another instance in Romans 14, Paul talks about how there really is nothing wrong with eating food that has been offered to idols or deciding some days are holier than others.

"Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble.You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning."

                                                                        - Romans 14:20-23 NLT

For a better understanding, I also advise you read the entire chapter. So at this point, you're probably asking: Ibukun, what does this have to do with yoga?
I've been incorporating yoga into my quiet time for about 3 weeks now-- doing the stretches, taking deep breaths, listening to soft soothing music-- and do not see anything wrong with it. This is a personal conviction. If you do yoga and believe it is not right and helpful to your faith, then it is not. If you feel guilty about it, then you are sinning by doing it. But if you believe after thought, prayer and practise that yoga can be redeemed when your heart is centred on the right thing, blessed are you for doing something you believe is right. If you know anyone in the faith who believes yoga is a sin, please do not bash their head in with your yoga poses or make them feel guilty about their decision to not do yoga. You're not acting in love by doing that. Of course, my argument and the verses I gave above do not apply to things that are clearly condemned in Scripture (both in New and Old Testament).

The freedom that God has given us as believers is so so great. I believe that God longs for us to know Him by and for ourselves and not just lean on someone else's theology.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this! Share them with me below


  1. My sister, this is where I quote "For all I sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)

    I'd ask the Christians who bash Yoga whether they celebrate Easter or Christmas, because---let's face it, they originated from pagan holidays. Some even celebrate Halloween saying it's all about costumes and candy. Yup, zombie outfits and all.

    I don't know much about the spiritual implications of Yoga but I'm sure that many practices we indulge in innocently---as a result of globalization, can be traced to ancient spiritual practices. Do we go on a full scale investigation to know whether clapping three times while wearing a white garment invites the devil? Or worry so much about legalism and "religious correctness" that we start believing in our own works, not the Lord's grace?

    This is a landmine, Ibukun, and we have to tread cautiously. But to the person in the second paragraph, I'd ask if he/she is getting filled with the Holy Spirit daily and hearing from God. Period.

  2. IbukunAkinnawo2 June 2014 at 13:40

    "tread cautiously" that's the right phrase. I've heard Christians call each other all kinds of names because of hot-button topics like yoga. Like you, I still maintain that hearing from God personally and reading the Bible by yourself is awesome. Test ideologies, read about them in Scripture, refuse to be blown about by wind of doctrine and other people's idea of holiness.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Questioning and being inquisitive is a very important trait of any true seeker. Unfortunately a lot of christians....Nigerians really have a "do not question it" mentality and it is why we never grow beyond our noses and are easily tossed by every wave of doctrine.

    I love this quote from Steve jobs:

    "When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and that your life is just to live your life inside the world and try not to bash into the walls too much.


    Life can be so much broader once you discover one simple fact;

    Everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that are no smarter/better than you and you can change it! You can influence it! You can build your own things that other people can use.

    It is to shake off this erroneous notion that life is just there and you are going to just live it versus EMBRACE IT! CHANGE IT! IMPROVE IT! MAKE YOUR MARK ON IT!

    And once you learn that, YOU WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN!"


  4. Hey Keli,
    You should read my new post on yoga. Baby steps. You won't be super flexible in one day :)