Serita Jakes, wife of popular televangelist Bishop T.D. Jakes, has reignited debate over the practice of yoga among Christians after she shared a series of photos showing members of a women's group at The Potter's House of Dallas enjoying a "taste of yoga" as a part of a healthy living endeavor.
"Today, we aspired to inspire #health mentally, emotionally, and physically. Our ladies even got a taste of #yoga from @Mrs_BrittHall. Health goes beyond what you eat. It's in the way you think, speak, and live. Thank you to all of the lovely sister girls that came to play with us! I love you. #AspireToInspire #W2W#EmotionalWellnessMatters," Jakes wrote in a post on Instagram that was also shared on other social media platforms such as Facebook.
The post sparked debate with critics saying it's wrong for Christians to practice yoga.
In defense, an Instagram user named Cecilia Echevarria, who indicated she participated in the event, said it was "very inspiring."
"We learn on how different ways to enjoy yoga in a Christian perspective. Thank you," she wrote.
The Christian Post reached out to Jakes' women's group for comment on Friday but she was not immediately available.
A group of Christians who support yoga called Christians Practicing Yoga and have been meeting since 2001, argue that "the practice of yoga reminds us of the biblical basis for a Christian high theology of the body."
While yoga was developed in India in a primarily Hindu culture, the group says, it was intended as a universal human practice and can be used as a good health exercise for Christians.
"Where the body is concerned, Christianity has by and large not walked its talk. It has resisted the radical nature of its own good news. On the one hand, it has the highest theological evaluation of the body amongst all the religions of the world, and on the other hand, it has given little attention to the body's role in the spiritual life in positive terms. High theology; low practice," the group explains.
Well-known evangelical theologian John Piper expressed his opposition to yoga, calling it "antithetical" to Christianity.
In an earlier interview on Desiring God he encouraged Christians to find different kinds of exercise to stay healthy: "I would want to say that both yoga and tai chi, the little I know and the little research I have done, have their roots in eastern worldviews and are profoundly in those roots antithetical to a Christian understanding of God and the way he works in the world."
Christian writer Matt Walsh, who came under fire for calling out Christians who practice yoga earlier this year, endorsed Piper's advice.
"The physical practices of yoga are expressly designed to open ourselves up to enlightenment (Hindu enlightenment that is). The intended final stage of yoga is to achieve a state called Samadhi, where the self disappears and you are brought into an unthinking trance," he wrote for The Daily Wire.
"You may perform the moves without consciously seeking the demonic trance they were designed to help you attain, but it would seem you are playing, quite literally, with fire. And then the question is why?
"I don't think you'll automatically be possessed if you do yoga. I don't think all yoga practitioners go to Hell. But neither do I see how a pagan ritual could ever help someone get to Heaven, and maybe that's reason enough to leave it alone," he ended.
This article was originally published in The Christian Post and is re-published here with permission