Is it okay for a Catholic to practice Yoga?

What are your thoughts

Yoga as in Stretching and exercise. Yes.

Here’s a good article on it.

Hope it helps.

I don’t know exactly what the pollster means by “practice yoga”. I’ve done yoga to stretch as a form of exercise. I have never done it to participate in a Hindu religious meditation to a diety.

Physical yoga, yes, it’s okay. It can be very good for arthritis.

I attend a weekly yoga class that is offered in our parish hall. There is usually at least one priest in attendance.

One of the instructors is just a bit on the “new-agey” side. If your faith cannot withstand that little bit of nonsense it doesn’t have a whole lot of substance to it.

I think Yoga is very beneficial for keeping the body supple and reducing stress, but I do understand some qualms people have with the movements. For example, towards the end of every session I’ve ever done, there is some kind of “corpse” pose, followed by a fetal-like position, and then a seated-buddha-type position. If that doesn’t sound like death, rebirth, and reaching nirvana, I don’t know what does.

I guess my 2 cents is that so long as you don’t take the symbolism to heart, it’s fine as an exercise. I’ve sometimes meditated upon the Sorrowful Mysteries during some of the more difficult stances. It is very powerful–and distinctly Catholic.

Such a poll needs a definition of the term.

My position is that using avariety of stretching routines and positions is not, by themselves, Yoga. Yoga is a spiritual and religious expression of eastern mysticism which by its very nature denies that there is any separation between the physical and spiritual (and by the way, catholics should have no problem with that part).

Yoga includes the spiritual belief that one can alter the flow of one’s spiritual “energies” (I’m mangling the vocabulary here) via physical manipulation of the body, thus altering one’s soul and enabling one to manipulate the energies of the universe to achieve things you otherwise couldn’t. It is a worldview incompatible with the catholic understanding that God is God and we aren’t. We attempt to gain mastery over the spiritual realm at our own mortal peril (read Exodus sometime to comprehend the principles at play and the dangers of adopting “a little bit” of other religions).

So for those who attempt to redefine yoga as “just stretching” please pay a little bit more respect to those who hold that religious view and refrain from participating in the confusion. If you don’t subscribe to their religion, don’t use their word. Just call it stretching excercises. Avoid even the appearance of violating the First Commandment.

Catholics calling their stretches “yoga” is rude and confusing. Its the same sort of disaster of comprehension as when Mormons or ‘oneness pentecostals’ call their initiation “baptism”. It isn’t and they don’t even believe it is the same thing we believe, so why attempt to appropriate the word?

Yoga isn’t an independent religion. One can meditate on Christ’s teachings while practicing yoga.

The practice of Yog is a theme of the Bhagavad Gita. It provide a wonderful insight into the Deity, dealing with issues such as the non-duality of faith and works, the innerness of God, etc. The bits about the divinity of Krishna talk beautifully about the mystery of the Incarnation. I encourage anyone who wants to deepen their faith to read it.

As Catholics, we can grow from anything which is true, sacred and insightful in other religions and cultures.

I am going to say no because Yoga has Hindu roots.

I have difficulty with a Catholic using yoga to find insight into “the Deity”. For us, the Deity is God not a Hindu god. I don’t know I’d be able to deepen my Catholic faith by reading about Krishna’s incarnation. Know what I mean?

Thanks for providing Exhibit A.

The insidious thing about many eastern religions is their insistence that mutually incompatible ideas are compatible. Catholicism is inherently a religion based on objective truth. The philosophy that underlies many eastern faiths is on that rejects objective reality and subjectivizes everything.

We REFLECT God, we do not contain him (i.e. He is not found “inside” us, though He does offer to dwell within us, an entirely different thing.). God is not an impersonal force which we refer to as “the Deity”, he is our Father, a personal and loving God. These are not trivial differences, they are incompatibly different visions of who God is and how we fit into His plan. Again, catholics should read Exodus a few times before oohing and aahing over the shiny golden calves (or Buddhas).

Other religions reflect different cultures conceptions of God- there is only one God, therefore it is always ultimately the same God. Nostra Aetate (Vatican II) says: “In Hinduism, men contemplate the divine mystery and express it through an inexhaustible abundance of myths and through searching philosophical inquiry. They seek freedom from the anguish of our human condition either through ascetical practices or profound meditation or a flight to God with love and trust.” Note, the Fathers of the Council say, “flight to God”, not “flight to an idol”, or even “flight to a god.”

The idea that God is inside of us is one of the oldest and most orthodox ideas of Christian mysticism. Is this not like the idea of the Atman, the deepest self, which is the same as Brahman, the transcendental God?

I had a conversation this weekend with some acquaintances from India who said that yoga is not particularly religious in nature, nor is Ayurvedic medicine. They believe these are based on scientific principles.

I think it is offensive to God for us to go through the motions of worshipping anything other than Him.

I have an atheist, Jewish (by culture) friend who recently became certified in yoga at the main center or hub for yoga in India. Their ephasis and explanation behind every pose “totally creeped her out”, even for an atheistic jewess.

Even though I don’t understand the full meaning behind the rosary and all of its mysteries, I still receive all of the graces and propogate the full power of its prayer. Perhaps we don’t have to understand the meaning behind the poses to open ourselves up what the poses are intended to achieve. This is not a risk I am willing to take at the expense of offending my God or my soul, and there are PLENTY of other exercises I can do.

Yoga is intended to maintain flexibility. You can think whatever you want to think while you are practicing yoga. It isn’t mind control, it isn’t magic. When I look at yoga books, I don’t even read them, I just look at the pictures of the positions and practice them.

If yoga is not spiritually pure enough for you, take a look at the Alexander Technique, which was developed by a Christian man. It is similar to yoga in the sense that it teaches disciplines of proper posture, movement, and breathing.

Yoga is not okay. It is a scandal that some parishes are supporting this non-Christian practice.

Yoga itself is not “just an exercise.” The very design, the postures and movements, are all designed according to a Hindu cosmology and are designed to place one in an altered state of consciousness, to open on up to the “energies” within the body and in the universe. This is what is meant by becoming “more aware of your body, mind and environment” mentioned by the Yogi master in the article.

Yoga cannot be performed without this effect regardless of whether or not one intends this effect.

Here is a warning from none other than Carl Jung, who’s psychology was intertwined with the occult:

"One often hears and reads about the dangers of Yoga, particularly of the ill-reputed Kundalini Yoga. The deliberately induced psychotic state, which in certain unstable individuals might easily lead to a real psychosis, is a danger that needs to be taken very seriously indeed. These things really are dangerous and ought not to be meddled with in our typically Western way. It is a meddling with Fate, which strikes at the very roots of human existence and can let loose a flood of sufferings of which no sane person ever dreamed. These sufferings correspond to the hellish torments of the chönyid state..."

–C. G. Jung, Introduction to The Tibetan book of the Dead

I have had a couple of deliverance clients who have been harmed by the “Kundalini Awakening”.

I think anyone interested in Yoga ought to read an article by Subhas R. Tiwari, a professor at the Hindu University of America. He is a graduate of the famed Bihar Yoga Bharati University with a master’s degree in yoga philosophy.

The article is Yoga Renamed Is Still Hindu:

You will see a sentence in that article, "In 2003, the Vatican issued a more conciliatory directive permitting Catholics to engage in the “New Age " in general and yoga specifically, but still warning against its spiritual and meditation practices.”

The Author of the article is wrong on that statement. The Vatican warns against the New Age and does not permit Catholics to participate in it.

The Vatican document he is referring to is “A Christian Reflection on the New Age” (…)

No where in that document is new age practices permitted. Yoga is mentioned twice in the document and neither time is that mention a positive one.

Thus, other than that one mis-statement in the article, the article gives good information about yoga from a person who is an expert in yoga.

Also of interest are the words in an Open Letter to Evangelicals about Hindu evangelization:

Hindus everywhere are becoming stronger and more assertive: … 2) The West is clearly open to the Hindu message, ready to hear about yoga, meditation, mysticism, healing and the ancient ways. Such “products” were too sophisticated for public consumption 30 years ago, but today they’re the hottest item on the shelf. Not a small part of this phenomenon is related, indirectly, to the coming of age of the New Age movement…

Consider these words a warning:

A small army of yoga missionaries - hatha, raja, siddha and kundalini - beautifully trained in the last 10 years, is about to set upon the western world. They may not call themselves Hindu, but Hindus know where yoga came from and where it goes


This letter was written in 1991. Since then the “missionaries” have already set upon us and in large part have converted many, even those in the Church.

BOTTOMLINE: There are risks in performing Yoga, even if you think you are only doing exercise. There are spiritual ramifications. Besides, why use Yoga, why take the risk? There are plenty of exercise routines that have no spiritual risk.

OK. I’m happy to touch my toes regardless of what it’s called. That is something common to many forms of stretching exercises, including yoga.

I’m also happy to do the same stretches that Hindu practitioners of yoga do, but call them something else. I’ve tried all sorts of different stretching techniques, those ones work the best for me. Honestly, they just do.

I just fail to see that any significance attaches to what the blimmin stretches are called!

Calling a leader of Hindu worship a ‘priest’ does not imply equivalence between that man and my local Catholic priest. Even though I use exactly the same name for both.

What about our Christmas greenery, which some even CALL Yule logs, which are derived from the pagan midwinter feast of Juul? Are we now no longer even allowed to have decorated trees/logs in our homes in midwinter?

What about the fact that our days of the week and months of the year (not to mention our planets) are most all named after pagan gods? Should we avoid using their names?

How about the fact that the Pope’s title, Pontifex Maximus, is one shared with the high priest of the ancient pagain Roman state religion? If His Holiness can keep a pagan name for his office, then why can I not keep a pagan name for my stretches?


The “stretches” people do before doing yoga, is not yoga. It is stretches. Yoga is what comes after the stretches.

As for what to call the stretches, words matter. If we call these stretches yoga, then we are endorsing yoga. Why call them yoga? What is the problem. Stretches can be done without any reference to yoga. Any genuine stretches are fine. Yoga is not according to the Holy See. Frankly, that settles it.

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