What exactly is Yoga?


I ordered some excercise CD’s, and included was one for Yoga. I’ve heard that as a Catholic, it is not permitted to do Yoga. I don’t know much and of course have not opened it since I didn’t want to do something that I shouldn’t. Can someone enlighten me. I was under the impression that it was just stretching exercises.



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Don’t do it. It’s not safe for Christians to do. It’s dangerous.

yo⋅ga  /ˈyoʊgə/ [yoh-guh]
–noun (sometimes initial capital letter) 1. a school of Hindu philosophy advocating and prescribing a course of physical and mental disciplines for attaining liberation from the material world and union of the self with the Supreme Being or ultimate principle.
2. any of the methods or disciplines prescribed, esp. a series of postures and breathing exercises practiced to achieve control of the body and mind, tranquillity, etc.
3. union of the self with the Supreme Being or ultimate principle.

1810–20; < Skt- SOURCE Unabridge Dictionary.com based on Random House Dictionary

**yo·ga ** (yō’gə)
also Yoga A Hindu discipline aimed at training the consciousness for a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquillity.

A system of exercises practiced as part of this discipline to promote control of the body and mind.

[Hindi, from Sanskrit yogaḥ, union, joining; see yeug- in Indo-European roots.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

**yoga **-Cultural Dictionary

In Hinduism, a set of mental and physical exercises aimed at producing spiritual enlightenment.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.


Word Origin & History

**yoga **
1820, from Hindi yoga, from Skt. yoga-s, lit. “union, yoking” (with the Supreme Spirit), from PIE base *yeug- “to join” (see jugular). Yogi (1619) is from Hindi yogi, from Skt. yoga-s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper



I do yoga exercises on the WiiFit, and I think those are fine, but I wouldn't go to an actual yoga gym, as others have mentioned, there can be spiritual aspects of it that aren't really compatible with Catholicism. If it's just the stretches, those can be great for you! :thumbsup:


I thought yoga was just stretching and breathing exercises? I think it’s fine to do the exercises as long as you ignore the eastern spirituality stuff. I’ve been to a few yoga exercise classes and there was never any spiritual stuff :shrug:


Me too. I am an athlete and I find it very helpful for flexibility training. When I do the breathing and anything vaguely spiritual, I focus my attention on God. I imagine myself surrendering to Him, knowing He will always take care of me. It helps a lot. The stretch helps with my training and I do similar breathing exercises for singing. For me, it's a stress relief, as well as a training aid.


You can’t take the spiritual nature from the physical nature of the actions.

The yogi author of the ancient writing Hatha Yoga Pradipika explained it this way, “Raja(mind and emotional control) Yoga and Hatha(physical exercises) Yoga are part of one whole, indispensable to one another. Those who try to separate them ‘waste their energy fruitlessly.’”
-Source: Unicorn in the Sanctuary: The Impact of New age in the Catholic Church by Randy England

They are all part of a hindu religious ritual. The lotus aligns “chakra” in order to “become one with god.”

If you want something to stretch, try Pilates, but don’t do yoga.

Yoga is aimed at becoming one with the “supreme being”, which focuses on transcendental meditation, which can get you possessed. It’s very, very dangerous.


[quote="DihydrogenOxide, post:7, topic:185777"]

Yoga is aimed at becoming one with the "supreme being", which focuses on transcendental meditation, which can get you possessed. It's very, very dangerous.


Ridiculous. :rolleyes:


[quote="DihydrogenOxide, post:7, topic:185777"]
You can't take the spiritual nature from the physical nature of the actions.


I disagree. Watch the yoga show on fittv and there is no mention of anything but stretching and breathing.I find it to be one of the more relaxing ways of stretching. And please don't tell me next that I shouldn't be exercising while watching the "Shimmy" show next...:D


Thanks so much for the information. If pilates is similar, I think I will try that one instead. Sounds like it might have the same concept of stretching without the other stuff.


I myself do the P90X program and it has a yoga dvd that is probably on of the best exercise programs out there. All it is, is a series of stretching and strength building poses. There doesn't have to be any spritual connections with them. I have never connected those on my part. I know that some use the yoga and apply its sprituality. I definatly do not and the people on my dvds view it purely as an awsome workout.


Pilates is not much like yoga at all, really. Pilates is about core strength, and as such, most of the exercises are variations on crunches or other abdominal exercises. Yoga is much more about stretching and balance, and involves the whole body, not just the core. Both are great exercise–it just depends on what you want to do.

And . . . IMO, telling people there’s no way to separate the spiritual nature from the physical actions is silly. You wouldn’t tell a non-Catholic they couldn’t eat bread and wine outside the context of the Mass, would you? It’s the intent, and the specific liturgical context that makes yoga a religious/worship act. I’m not illicitly worshipping Vishnu when I do yoga any more than my Baptist grandma is illicitly taking the Eucharist when she eats toast for breakfast.


Eastern spirituality is also heavily wrapped up in the martial arts, and yet the Vatican has ruled that it is perfectly acceptable to engage in the physical aspects of sports like Karate, Kung Fu, and Tae Kwon Do.


That transcendental meditation can leave one open to spiritual attack is not ridiculous at all; it’s a fact.

What I’m a bit confused about though is if a person can benefit from physical/ stretching aspects of yoga while discarding the spiritual aspect. I’ve been considering looking into some pregnancy yoga tutorials online, but now I’m not sure.

Does anyone happen to know if the recent papal encyclical on the New Age movement mentions yoga specifically or not?


As someone who has been doing exercises from both catalogs (pilates and yoga) for more than 15 years trust me - one can do the yoga exercises and never once participate in the “spirtitual” aspect that is associated with them.

Never once felt the need to delve into the yoga teachings by doing the exercises and since the truth already exists in the Catholic teaching - why would I?

As previously mentioned, yoga and pilates offer different types of exercises, and can be done integrated as part of an overall health plan.

Never once would I personally integrate any spiritual element from an exercise plan.


I used to take yoga classes without any spiritual side to them for a few months. One can definitely do yoga and just do the physical element. I was sooo flexible back then, thanks to those stretches!


[quote="ac_claire, post:14, topic:185777"]
That transcendental meditation can leave one open to spiritual attack is not ridiculous at all; it's a fact.


It seems that this priest disagrees with you.

Father Cletus Stein
October 2, 2008

*Dear Catholic friends,

I am a retired Catholic priest who practices Transcendental Meditation (TM) and did so while I served in the Catholic Church for about 30 years. Based on my own experience, I know that TM is a universal technique that is in harmony with the goals of our religion. It requires no change in personal lifestyle or beliefs and is an effective aid for us to become stronger in our own faith. Transcendental Meditation has enhanced my own religious practice and has been a great way for me to relax and become more alert for my work and my life as a whole.

I served in parishes in Kansas for 20 years and in Texas for 11 years, also doing some hospital and student chaplain ministry. I did my Theology studies in Rome and was ordained there in 1966. It is my experience that TM is an excellent way to prepare for prayer. I have also found that TM teachers and practitioners have great respect for all religions; therefore, I believe that TM allows us to practice ecumenism and not just talk about it.

Meditation has been encouraged by the Church over the ages and by the saints, including the writer of the Cloud of Unknowing, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and many others. TM is a proven technique for joining them in meditation. Many scientific research studies over the years have shown significant results with TM; it has been known to improve physical health and to increase mental clarity and creativity. It is my experience that the practice of TM and the benefits that it brings only get better over the years. I believe that anyone can find great value in practicing this meditation regularly.

Father Cletus Stein
is a retired Catholic Priest*


[quote="ac_claire, post:14, topic:185777"]
That transcendental meditation can leave one open to spiritual attack is not ridiculous at all; it's a fact.


So does this one.

*Father Leonard Dubi
December 1, 2008

I am an active 66-year-old Roman Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago who has served 7 parishes in a 40-plus year career. I began practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) in my middle 30s while serving in a third assignment as an associate pastor. I went on to serve two more parishes as an associate pastor until the archbishop made me a pastor of a parish that I served for 21 years. I am in my present assignment as a pastor for almost three years.

The practice of TM has been among the highest priorities in my life since I began to meditate 33 years ago. During this entire time span I have practiced this technique faithfully, twice a day, 365 times a year, including all the secular and religious holidays. I have meditated on airplanes, ocean liners, buses and cars; in airports, bus stations, hospital chapels, banquet halls, friend’s homes as well as my favorite prayer chair in my room.

The time commitment has been woven into the fabric of my spiritual life. My prayer and preparation to celebrate the Sacraments of the Catholic liturgical tradition, especially the Holy Eucharist, have been augmented by practicing the TM technique.

The daily centering experience as a TM meditator has deepened my appreciation of the contemplative dimensions of mental prayer taught in the Catholic spiritual tradition. As a calmer and more centered person, my prayerful reading of the sacred scriptures is more profound and rewarding. Deeper meaning seems to surface as I read the various passages of the books of the Holy Bible.

My prayer life has become richer. Life has slowed down interiorly even as it has accelerated externally. I look and feel younger than my age.

The distress that comes with being a pastor in a Catholic parish in a 21st century urban setting in the mid-west of the USA, as well as just living in the modern world of instant communication is potentially debilitating. Regular practice of TM has proven to be an effective way of dissolving stress as well as an effortless way to slow me down. These benefits are attested to in numerous scientific studies that have been conducted on the TM technique.

The best “study,” however, has been my personal experience. I have recommended that friends and parishioners learn the TM technique. Some have. Those who have continued to practice the technique regularly have experienced the same results as I have.

I certainly recommend Transcendental Meditation to everyone, particularly to those in the society who are responsible for the spiritual and intellectual growth of congregations and students. I have used TM as a tool that has helped me in my vocation as a priest and as a man of faith and prayer. The technique has only helped me experience the spiritual core of my religious belief at a deeper level.

Fr. Leonard Dubi
is a pastor in the Archdiocese of Chicago*


This nun disagrees with you too.

*Sister Carol Wirtz
August 25, 2008

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a letter of support for the practice of Transcendental Meditation. I have been a Catholic Sister for twenty-two years and have been practicing Transcendental Meditation for fourteen years. I have found this technique to be very beneficial in different aspects of my life. It has helped calm and focus my mind during times of stress as well as in everyday life. I have also noticed physiological effects such as less muscle tension, more relaxed breathing and just overall greater awareness. In addition, there have been many scientific studies to support the benefits of Transcendental Meditation.

Since Transcendental Meditation is not a religion nor is it taught as a doctrine, it does not interfere or conflict with my Catholic Christian faith. In my years of practicing this technique I believe it has enhanced my prayer and Christian life.

Sister Carol Wirtz lives in Anthony, New Mexico*


Thanks JPayne. That is the same program I ordered the P90X which also came with the Yoga. I'm glad the workout focuses on the the stretching exercises.

Good advice from everyone though. You really do have to be careful and be informed which is why I love the forums here.

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