What does the Church say about Hatha yoga?

Dear Catholic Answers,

What is your opinion on practicing Hatha Yoga poses, strictly for physical exercise, relaxation, stress reduction and to achieve better physical balance, stamina, muscle strength and flexibility? In no way do I exercise yoga as a religion, guide to spiritual enlightenment, or a form of spirituality. I just want to get into better physical shape . I am a 58 year old Roman Catholic woman, never married, no children. I do not advocate yoga for children, or anyone else but myself.

The problem I face is that, for financial reasons only, my twin sister lives with me. She is unemployed and, except for receipt of her food stamps, I provide room and board and pay all bills, except for her “personal ones” (car insurance, medications, cellular telephone).

She is adamant in her opinion that my doing yoga as exercise is “evil and of the occult”, and calls it “garbage”; constantly is negative to downright mean to me concerning this subject. She said that every priest she has ever consulted agrees with her position.

I, however, did consult a Roman Catholic Priest at St. Collette’s Church in Livonia, Michigan regarding the above. Father Michael stated that, as exercise only, it is not a mortal sin. He said that he also practices these simple poses. We did discuss going “too far” i.e. Kundalini Yoga, and the problems with yoga and children, as they do not have the fully formed intellectual ability to discern what is or is not acceptable Catholic activity.

I in no way practice Hinduism. I am aware that Yoga originated in India and can be practiced as a part of Hinduism. Father Michael stated that, even the “going too far” (not physically speaking, as in say, you do something that you are physically incapable of doing and hurting/injuring self) but, in the context of, for example Kundalini Yoga,actually practicing Hinduism is not “evil and of the occult” but that it is Hindu and not Christian and Christians should not practice Hinduism. I would even go so far as to say that Roman Catholics should not practice Protestentism too.

Please advise. My sister is driving me crazy with her **overbearingly rigid “in my face” **opinion on this matter. She has even gone so far as to tell her friends of my “sin”. HELP!!

The following links should explain what the Church teaches about yoga. If you have any further questions, please contact Catholic Answers directly.

Recommended Reading:

Can Catholics practice yoga?

Is Yoga contrary to our faith?
Is it possible to “baptize” yoga?
Learn to Discern: Christian or New Age?

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