In my initial thinking, I used two arguments that Christians should refrain from Yoga (which I think are still valid, but I now think there is a better way to address this question):
But I ended up deciding that the best method of addressing this question might be to argue that if you are a Christian considering or practicing Yoga, then I would suggest that you should learn more about the Hindu history and philosophy of Yoga directly from Hindus so that you can make good decisions on this topic. That is what this blog post is intended to help you do. So, this is my attempt at a "missing manual" for Christians considering Yoga.
2. Here is a video talking about a panel discussion on the topic from Hinduism Today (15 minutes). I also added on the end a video clip of Father Keating discussing how his Christian beliefs (step 1) are transcended by Hindu/Buddhist concepts of Oneness (steps 2 and 3 of the "spiritual journey"):
3. Here is a link to buy the below video on Yoga philosophy from the Christian perspective. This one isn't a Hindu source, and I don't necessarily agree with all the assertions, such as the Yoga moves themselves having actual spiritual/mystical/demonic implications. Also, I always thought that the idea of Kundalini, being the waking of a sleeping snake at the base of our spine, came from the fact that our intestines look like a coiled snake rather than being a reference to the serpent in Genesis and Revelations. But in any event this Christian author did grow up in India and the video has some very interesting first hand accounts from the Christian perspective (77 minutes):
If you want more information, check out the Wikipedia article on Yoga, and the origins of the Sun Salutation: "Its origins lie in India where they worship Surya, the Hindu solar deity". Compare that to Ezekiel 8:15-16 where it says:
15 He said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? Yet you will see still greater abominations than these.”I know that most westerners aren't intending to worship the Sun when they do a sun salutation, but at the Hindu temple they did say during our sun and moon salutations that we were "honoring the Sun" and "honoring the Moon". So I would still suggest thinking about that passage the next time you do a Sun or Moon salutation.
16 Then He brought me into the inner court of the Lord’s house. And behold, at the entrance to the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar,were about twenty-five men with their backs to the temple of the Lord and their faces toward the east; and they were prostrating themselves eastward toward the sun.
I am a Christian libertarian so I believe that the ten commandments were really talking about how to maintain freedom, through right motivations (don't covet), respect for ownership of yourself (don't kill) and your work (don't steal), and respect for free trade/contracts (no adultery, honor parents, honor God). But to make free choices requires that you have all the information. Now that you have more background information on Yoga you are more free, and also more responsible, to make good decisions.
If you aren't a Christian, then perhaps none of this matters. But if you are a Christian who believes the God of the Bible actually exists, then perhaps Pilates or some other categorization of similar stretches might be a way to obtain the same physical benefits without risking disrespecting God. God gives us freedom to do what we believe is best, but choose wisely.