It is a known fact that there are numerous benefits of practising Yoga every day and its the secret to a more positive and fulfilling life. However, some radicals among the Christian faith have deemed Yoga ‘absolutely incompatible’ with Christianity just because of the fact that Yoga is a vital part of Hinduism and Hindu culture.
Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church has claimed that Yoga has “no place in the lives of Christians” since it’s a fundamental part of Hinduism. As millions of people have turned to Yoga to combat the pandemic related stress, the Greek Orthodox Church has strongly urged Christians to avoid practising Yoga.
Holy Synod which is the governing body of the church of Greece in a statement said, “Yoga is absolutely incompatible with our Orthodox faith and has no place in the life of Christians. It is a fundamental chapter in Hindu religion… it is not a ‘kind of physical exercise.”
The Church was concerned after growing media reports showed how the world is warming up to Yoga for their mental well-being. It is important to note that in 2015, the Church of Greece had officially decreed that, “the practice of yoga has no place in the lives of Christians.”
Last year, the Metropolitan Nektarios of Argolis had claimed that yoga “is not an exercise, but an act of worship”. The Greek Orthodox church has a history of taking a radical stance and is also homophobic. In August last year, the Metropolitan Amvrosios of Kalavryta resigned after his relentless criticism of gays who he thought are the “the scum of society” and even urged the people to spit on them.
For many people, theologically the Orthodox Church has not evolved. For many people it is problematic because it doesn’t manage to engage with modernity,” said Gerasimos Makris, who is a professor at Athen’s Panteion University.
India too has such radical elements as a recent Syro-Malabar Church report, yoga is incompatible with Catholic doctrine. In fact, the Church blamed the Sangh Parivar for, “(trying to) exploit yoga to achieve their political and sectarian goals.”
The Syro-Malabar doctrinal Commission recently declared that, “In yoga there is no place for God,” and resorted to spreading fear and warning the Catholics as it claimed that, “ (there is a) danger of physical gestures and exercises becoming idolatrous in themselves.”
Such is the Church’s conservatism that it claims that Yoga is diabolical and “it is impossible to reconcile Christian doctrine and the Yoga philosophy.”
Needless to say, such Bishops and Church do not have the best interests of Christians as all they care for is conversions to Christianity and will look to stop anything which threatens their hegemony even something as harmless as Yoga which actually helps in mental well-being.