What is Yoga?
by Jeremy Butler
Yoga is a practice that has become very popular in the United States. According to a 2008 study, there are 15.8 million Americans who practice Yoga. Before we can answer whether Christian’s should practice yoga or not, we need to define what Yoga is.
Yoga is a practice found in all sects of Hinduism. There are different types of yoga, but all are touted as a means to achieve unity with the divine and thus to earn salvation. There are several practices within Yoga. These include, but are not limited to meditation, repetition of sacred sounds or syllables (typically “Ohm”), breathing techniques, acrobatic exercises, and positioning one’s body in difficult postures.
Meditation is central to all forms of Yoga. Meditation helps its practitioners to be able to find release from the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. “Yoga is a method of spiritual training whose purpose is to integrate or unite the self. A physical exercise, its goal is nonphysical-uniting with God. Yoga teaches that people should attempt to yoke the individual spirit to God, to atman – the individual soul or essence of a person – and to Brahman”. So we see that Yoga is essentially physical exercises in which one tries to attain unity with the universal divine essence of Hindu theology.