Christianity and Yoga – Commonalities

Religion and spirituality are part of the everyday lives of people across the face of the earth. However, they are often seen as being mutually exclusive of each other. Barriers are often erected between the two and serve only to bury, under the opacity of dogma and doctrine, their commonalities. Commonalities between religious doctrine and spiritual practices can be bridges that lead to a more expansive and grounded realization of The One Source (TOS). Specifically, yoga practice that incorporates the precepts of yama/niyama can be a supporting aspect of the Christian journey.

TOS is an acronym for The Source of All Creating/ Sustaining/ Dissolving. As mere words cannot really encapsulate the immensity of this concept, the term GOD is what many Christians find easy to grasp. TOS, for all intents and purposes, is a more expansive and encompassing concept that references the religious and spiritual acknowledgement that everything comes from TOS. Within the context of Christianity, the Bible states that TOS created the heaven and the earth and the sea and ALL that in THEM is. TOS did this by SPEAKING reality into existence. In the case of Man, TOS formed the matter (the dust of the earth) and put the spiritual essence (the breath of life) into man (spirit and matter). From the standpoint of yoga, TOS-GOD is actually a whole that exudes the duality of nature. (i.e. subjective and objective, spirit and matter). It is this duality that is perceived as everyday reality.

The practice of yoga, to include various concepts and methodologies, promotes the observance of certain precepts. These precepts are: Yamas – Asetya, Asteya, Aparigraha, Ahimsa, Brahmacharya and Niyamas – Ishvara Pranidhana, Tapas, Santosha, Shaucha, Svadyaya. These are Sanskrit (Ancient East Indian) terms which translate to Avoidances – Non-Lying, Non-Stealing, Non-Greed, Non-Violence, Non-Sensuality and Non-Avoidances – Attunement to a GOD Principle, Austerity, Contentment, Purity, Self Study, repectively. Yama (avoidances or conduct which is controlled) are those habits that should be minimized in one’s life. They are stated in a negative sense. Niyama (Non-avoidances or conduct which is cultivated) are those practices or acts that one should increase in their lives. These same precepts and the practice of them can be found in the KJV Bible.

These precepts, yama and niyama, can be the conduit through which the Christian can find common ground on which to explore the practice of yoga. Christians (sic) approach their salvation through observing a philosophy of monotheism. Yogis strive for self-realization by harmonizing the duality that comprises existence in this plane of reality. This plane of reality is that which emanates from TOS-GOD. By one being grounded in Christianity, the connection with observing non-greed, non-violence, non-lying, non-stealing, non sensuality, purity, self study, contentment, austerity, Attunement to a GOD Principle can be a place to more comfortably see that there is an inter-connectivity between all of life on earth. One can utilize the yamas and the niyamas as a way to bring yoga into a Christianity and yoga, via , to make the practice of yoga a practice that supports and even bolsters one’s Christian beliefs.

The idea being exposited here is that neither, religion nor spirituality, has to have dominion over the other; that they can be wholly supportive of each other. Unfortunately, in a world of wrong or right, the side of the fence where one resides is usually viewed as the correct side. By allowing the commonalities between the two to bring about a melding of ideas, there could be great beneficial results from this. When practicing (true yoga), one’s breath is always, should always be, at the forefront of the practice. The breath of life is what energetically and spirituality sustains the body in the body in this earth plane. If the practice of yoga can assist in the developing the ability to breath fully and completely, then why not practice it. It is the breath of life, as was bestowed upon humankind by TOS, that connects us to that all encompassing power. The precepts of yama-niyama can serve as a source of ideological common ground between religion and spirituality, between Christianity and yoga. One can, then, more confidently stand on their religious ideals while engaging in a spiritual practice.

2 thoughts on “Christianity and Yoga – Commonalities

  1. I commented on a similar thread on another site where an evangelical admonished that Christians cannot legitimately practice Yoga and maintain their claim to Christianity. I do not have any fundamental disagreement with what is written here. However, I believe that the message speaks to the commonality of two groups that nevertheless have very distinct differences. I will start by noting that within Christanity factions or denominations exist based on philosophical differences, e.g. Mary was or was not a virgin; or communion is or is not the body of Christ. I understand that Christianity, all of Christianity, has as its central focus that salvation comes through the believe in and acceptance of Jesus Christ. The science/philosophy of Yoga purports that one can consciously unite with the One Source through efforts here on earth and thus attain ‘salvation’. I understand Yoga to espouse that we are already part of the Source while Christianity sees the Source as other. (I must caveat my use of Christianity because Christian mystics have I whole other thing going on.). I will end and summarize with, I believe all citizens of this planet who desire to live in harmony tend to share common believes as how to achieve that harmony solely in the physical realm. When we more passed those shared commonalities and bring spiritual beliefs into the mix, things tend to fall apart and harmony is lost. People often want/allow their spiritual believes to supersede physical harmony. They began justifying their desired physical reality using their purported spiritual beliefs. In the extreme one gets the Crusades; Inquisition; Salem witch trials; Irish Protestant versus Catholic blood disputes; biblical justification for slavery; Jihads; etc. Finally, I maintain: ‘A difference that does not make a difference is not a difference at all.’

    1. I appreciate all of the comments that this topic has thus far engendered. I think that what I am attempting to convey has gotten lost in a haze of interpretation, which is this is a starting point for discussion. My point in my writing is that for a Christian that is comtemplating yoga, as a practice, and maybe struglling at where they might be able to comfortably venture forth, the precepts of yama/niyama can provide that.

      I am not touching upon the prevalent differences between the two because it is up to the spiritual nature of the seeker to sort that out. I am sure that other religions also have things in common with yoga but I am not touching upon those since I am most familiar with Christianity (to include Catholicism).

      What tends to take place within the abrahamic faiths is condemnation, by and large, of anything that is percieved to be non-scripturally based; when, In fact, there is a source of inspiration and spiritual essence in all that one does. Within Christian Scripture it states, “Whether therefore ye eat,or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to the GLORY of GOD. I Cor 10:31 The issue here is What is GOD?? The practice of yoga, while keeping in mind one’s own particular spiritual-religious leanings, can lead to a more encompassing view of What is GOD. All the while, one can still stand firm on what they consider to be GOD without denigrating anyone else’s point of view.

      My sole purpose here is to express my views on allowing the precepts of yama/niyama to be a starting point for the Christian considering taking up the practice of yoga.

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