Outstretched Hands
Should Christians practice yoga? (lusi/rgbstock.com )

When she was 7 years old, Laurette Willis was tickled when her mother began teaching yoga classes from home. For years, the eager child modeled yoga postures before college students and eventually instructed her own classes.

But for Willis, what seemed carefree soon became a stepping-stone to something sinister. "It seemed so stress-relieving and wonderful, but yoga opened the door to my being involved in the occult for 22 years," says Willis, who explains that she dabbled in "everything from A to Z," including astrology, Ouija boards and Zoroastrianism, an ancient Persian religion.

After accepting Christ in 1987, Willis designed Praise Moves, which she describes as an alternative to yoga. Created with help from her husband, Paul, it combines Scripture with deep stretching and gentle movement.

"I said, 'Lord, it'd be wonderful if there was another way to exercise, something sort of like yoga, but I don't want to have anything to do with yoga,'" says Willis, who attends Calvary Assembly of God in Tahlequah, Okla. "All of a sudden, I saw it in a flash. I saw it as not Christian yoga but an alternative."

Praise Moves, available on DVD, is finding success amid a growing interest in yoga among Christians. Churches across the country are hosting yoga classes that substitute Christ for the names of Hindu gods and encourage participants to meditate on Scriptures instead of chanting.

Susan Bordenkircher, developer of a Christian yoga video series called Outstretched in Worship, says her Christ-centered yoga classes direct participants toward God, not false gods. And the instruction can serve as an evangelistic tool. "If someone who's not a Christian is practicing yoga, we can give them the opportunity to see God through what we're doing," she says.

Bordenkircher began leading Christian yoga classes at her Methodist church years ago, and they became so popular that she produced a video in 2004. Though she doesn't change the names of postures, she says her technique undergirds yoga with a Christian philosophy.

"The way that we change it is mainly about the intentionality, what the purpose is for why it is practiced," Bordenkircher says. "We'll start with the affirmation of faith. We raise our hands. We use Scripture as prayers. We use Christian music."

Praise Moves is similar. The two-hour video includes a myriad of postures with names such as the Vine, the Cross and the Prayer Warrior, each corresponding to a specific Scripture. But Willis stresses that her routine is not yoga-based, since she discourages all forms of yoga.

"I believe 'Christian yoga' is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms," she says. "It would be like saying, 'I'm a Christian Buddhist.' It doesn't work."

Arguing that Hinduism cannot be separated from yoga, Willis points to yoga postures as one example. "These postures are offerings to the 330 million Hindu gods," she says.

Bordenkircher says yoga predates Hinduism and the Eastern mysticism it is often associated with. "It was set up as a lifestyle, a framework for your lifestyle that involves dietary concerns, physical concerns," she says. "The spiritual element was just one part of it, and that spiritual element didn't revolve around one particular deity or one particular religion."

Both women are working to broaden their reach. Bordenkircher has released a book, Yoga for Christians. And Willis is spreading her Praise Moves routine around the world, with certified instructors in Germany, the United Kingdom and Singapore. She also plans to develop Praise Moves programs for children, the elderly and pregnant women.

Draw closer to God. Experience the presence of the Holy Spirit every month as you read Charisma magazine. Sign up now to get Charisma for as low as $1 per issue.

Get to know the Holy Spirit and how to interact with Him on a daily basis. Learn to enter God's presence and hear His voice clearly for yourself! Go deeper in your faith with Life in the Spirit and change your life and destiny. Are you ready to start your journey?

Did you enjoy this health article? Click here to receive new health articles by email.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • Hillary Clinton

    What if Hillary Clinton Wins the White House?

    Polls have Mrs. Clinton leading by 11 points. The church must be prepared.

  • Holy Spirit prophetic

    7 Ways to Cultivate Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit

    Too many of God's people are led by fear, doubt, man-pleasing, presumption, assumption, idols ...

  • Jezebel puppets

    10 Ways to Spot Jezebel's Spiritually Slick Undercover Con Artists

    It's time to stop tolerating Jezebel in all its many manifestations.

  • Highway exit signs

    Prophetic Word: Watch for the Exit Signs to Light Up This Season

    Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty in the harvest fields. The "barnyard anointing" ...

  • Finger pointing

    The Accuser vs. Donald Trump—and Us All

    This isn't a political persuasion piece, but a current-event case study in the strategies of ...

  • Lance Wallnau

    Lance Wallnau Is on Fire and on Target With His Insights on the Culture and This Election

    I'm sickened by the self-righteous, weak-kneed "evangelicals" who want to be liked by ...

  • Daily scripture reading, meditation and prayer can seem elusive with your busy schedule.

    10 Small Steps to Deeper Intimacy With Holy Spirit in Your Quiet Times

    If deep quiet times seem just out of your reach with your busy schedule, try one of these ...

  • In October, many things will be realigned in your life, including your vision.

    5 Prophetic Revelations About God's October Surprise

    "The winds of apostolic change are blowing across the land and realigning you."

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit