Although yoga is now mainstream in the United States, much continues to be said when it comes to whether or not yoga and meditation in some way go against Christian principles. And while there will always be valid points on both sides of the mat depending upon which way you spin it, this Huffington Post from Sally Kempton is a must read if you are looking to shed light on this sometimes volatile topic.
According to Kempton, the debate over yoga and meditation as blasphemous tools when it comes to Christianity has been raging for centuries. Although she doesn’t come out and hit the naysayers on the head, she does point out, regardless of religious affiliation, just how beneficial a yoga and meditation practice can be.
On the other hand, yoga has gifts to offer that go far beyond the physical. In its original, classical form, hatha yoga is part of a comprehensive system of spiritual philosophy and self-culture that comes out of the Indian tradition. So classically — and in many contemporary yoga schools — the physical postures are taught in a context that includes moral and ethical precepts, meditation, and teachings about the nature of reality, aimed at aligning the individual with his or her divine core. Usually, the teachings come from the tradition of Vedanta, from other non-dual traditions like tantra or from the Hindu devotional paths. All these systems have in common an understanding that the soul of a human being is inherently divine. And many of them teach that the divine appears as the world, that there are many paths to the same truth, and that the individual and God are one. This type of philosophically-based yoga practice would probably not be acceptable within conservative or evangelical Christian traditions, or in orthodox or conservative Jewish traditions, that believe that the divine is only beyond or apart from the human body and the world.
Read more about the yoga and meditation debate from Kempton here.