COMPATIBILITY OF YOGA AND CHRISTIANITY
Yoga is increasingly being practiced by Christian people of the
world, particularly in the West. While it is easy for critics to
argue that the two are incompatible, many people intuitively know
that Yoga, which is not a religion, and Christianity really are quite
compatible. Actually, principles of Yoga are already contained within
Christianity and Christian meditation. To say that Yoga is compatible
with Christianity is not to say that that the two are the same.
Compatibility and sameness are two very different principles. In
addition, it is important to note that there may be individual
denominations opposed to Yoga practices with body, breath and mind,
just as there are individual denominations opposed to medical
treatment, modern technology, or a variety of social and cultural
activities. However, the fact that some denominations are opposed,
and thus incompatible with Yoga in their individual view, does not
mean that the whole of Christianity is incompatible.
While some critics of Yoga say that it is not compatible with
Christianity, there is already tremendous diversity of opinions and
practices within the Christian religion, which serves a broad variety
of people. The World Christian Encyclopedia (pub. 2001) is quoted as
estimating that there are over 28,000 Christian denominations (later
updated to 33,830 and 39,000 according to different sources). The
World Christian Database says that over 9,000 denominations are
represented in its database (2004). Another Christian resource on the
Internet says that the number of Christian denominations has
increased to over 35,500 from approximately 1900 denominations that
existed a hundred years ago. If there is room for tens of thousands
of denominations within Christianity, surely there is plenty of room
for Yoga to be practiced by its adherents who choose to do so.
It is very useful to be aware of the polarities of Esoteric and
Exoteric religion. Many of the people practicing Yoga are drawn to
the Esoteric end of the spectrum, which is the domain of mysticism.
Throughout human history the Esoteric practitioners have been shunned
by the more Exoteric people. Thus, it is not only Yoga that some
Christians are opposed to, but also the the mystical practices of
their own religion. In such cases, Yoga is a convenient, visible
target, while the effort is actually one of attempting to suppress
the subtler essence of their own roots.
SEE ALSO these articles for info on Exoteric and Esoteric approaches:
Mysticism, Yoga and Religion
Exoteric and Esoteric Christianity