This thesis argues that yoga is a suitable practice to meet the goals of Christian spiritual formation. Yoga is a popular fitness phenomenon, practiced by 16 million Americans every year. As a holistic exercise that combines the elements of posture, breath, and mindfulness, yoga offers significant psychophysiological benefits. This has led to the implementation of yoga as a therapeutic intervention for individuals suffering from a variety of conditions, including depression and chronic pain. The broad appeal and consistent effectiveness of yoga have made it a common practice in the contemporary West. Despite its benefits, many Christians object to Christians practicing yoga, claiming that yoga is incompatible with Christian faith. Two major objections must be addressed for Christians to practice yoga as a spiritual discipline. The first objection is the widespread opinion that yoga as it is practiced in the West today is a Hindu spiritual practice and is therefore at odds with Christian spirituality. This objection is addressed by surveying the history and practice of yoga as it evolved from ancient classical yoga to the form practiced in the West today, Modern Postural Yoga (MPY). The survey establishes that yoga is not equivalent to Hinduism and that it offers significant psychophysiological benefits to the general population. The roots of this objection can be found in mind-body dualism and more recently Christian fundamentalism. This is addressed by providing a biblical theology of the body and a holistic view of Christian spiritual formation and spiritual practices, concluding that MPY can be practiced with the intention of deepening Christian spiritual maturity. An appendix offers practical suggestions for implementing yoga as a Christian spiritual discipline.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Dissertations (MA) -- Religion; Christianity and yoga; Spirituality -- Christianity; Mindfulness (Psychology)
Date of Award
Breeding, Cecily, "Jesus is my guru: why and how Christians should practice yoga for spiritual formation" (2018). Theses and Dissertations. 942.