Why is it?

This will be kind of a rhetorical question as I believe I know the answer though I’m often wrong when I think I’m not.
Why is it that some Christians whether catholic or not are so afraid of things they view as un-Christian? In a word yoga.
I wonder if Christians of the early church had as much anxiety over incense, bells, and priest’s vestments as is caused by postures, breathing techniques, and meditation that is not lectio divina? There is also a part of yoga called the 8 limbs of which the first 2 are extremely helpful for those on a spiritual path and I fail to see how these 2 limbs are un-Christian-they are called yama and niyama.
Since the beginning Christians have taken things that are pagan in origin and made it their own and assimilated (?) into their practices. Incense for example-“Pagans employed it in the worship of their gods.” I’m not 100% sure but pretty sure pagan cultures/religions were around long before Christianity so it seems that pagans didn’t get incense use from Christians. That quote came from americancatholic.org.
On the subject of priest’s vestments “even though priests of the Old Testament wore vestments in their liturgical rites, the ‘christian’ vestments are not really adaptations of them; rather, the vestments of the Christians developed from the dress of the Graeco-Roman world, including the religious culture.” This quote came from Catholicstraightanswers.com. My guess is that the Graeco-Roman culture was that of pagans.
On the subject of bells “The idea that the sound of bells ringing has spiritual value is thought to have originated with pagan winter celebrations in which bells were rung to drive out evil spirits.” and also “The tradition of ringing bells at a certain time of day or during certain rituals seems to be a catholic tradition, infused with superstition.” These quotes came from gotquestions.org.
The names of the days of the week and the months are also from pagan culture. For those readers of this rant that are more open minded and more universal/catholic than others (the open minded ones seem to out number the fearful ones) I apologize for feeling compelled to start this thread. Take care-stay safe.

Most of the time this subject would deal with the first Commandment - Thou shalt do not worship any other gods before me.

Christians must be very particular that they do not fall into worshipping any other gods. Practically that would entail any living situation where one is influenced, guided and instructed by any belief other than from the Christian God. For example, believing in superstition or even unconsciously living a life dictated by different belief.

If Yoga is more than just physical work out; if it involves one to believe even in remotely supernatural thing, then it should be out for Christians.


I thought yoga was an exercise. I never considered it worshiping anything or un-Christian.
Wow. I must really be out of touch.

The problem with yoga is that people often start out doing it just as exercise, but as they advance, the instruction includes spiritual instruction. Yoga is Hindu, which is very much not Catholic!

The goals of yogic meditation are very different from the goals of Catholic meditation, which seeks increased unity with God.

You might want to look up what Catholics have to say about Yoga.

I know Catholic monks who practice yoga every morning without fail. I’ve also read that it’s in common practice on Mount Athos. Some Catholics are just more drawn to esoteric ideas than are others, simple as that. Yoga is nothing to be afraid - just approach it with intelligence and your eyes wide open. You’ll know if you’re veering off into Hinduism.

Yoga positions weren’t intended to be exercises by the Hindus.

They were designed to either worship one of the many Hindu gods or to facilitate the flow of prana (life force energy) through one’s body. The positions are made to imitate various gods. Not a good thing for a Christian, IMO.

Wow. I never knew any of this. Thanks for the info.

This has been discussed in great detail on CAF. Use the search tool fro more info.

I joined a yoga class once and when it got to the point where I was to go deep into myself and see myself floating, etc. I got out of there right away…

There are “yoga” classes which are not taught from the New Age spiritual sense but more for the gentle stretch exercises.

It’s so touchy because sometimes these things become slippery slopes in that you start out innocently enough with it and then it begins to move toward more stuff that requires you to compromise your Christian beliefs.

I feel like I just went all over the place in this post and I apologize if I did…

God bless all!!


Same here.

Yoga is physical exercise with a focus on the breath, mind, and body. There is no worship, only exercise and relaxation.


You are mistaken about Christians getting their liturgical practices from pagans. Their use of incense and their vestments are derived from Judaism, which is the root from which Catholicism is born. Some of their architecture and art were influenced by the pagan cultures of ancient Rome, but I’d hardly say that the pagan religions were the ones influencing this. Catholicism blends itself into the culture that it converts, but doesn’t adopt the religion of that culture.

With regards to yoga, as far as I know the Catholic Church does not forbid or discourage the use of yoga merely as a physical exercise. However Catholics cannot use it as a spiritual exercise. They sure as heck can’t incorporate it as a part of their liturgy. Yoga, as traditionally practiced, is a hindu worship and illicit for Catholics to use as worship. The focus of Christian spirituality is to increase in repentance, grow in union with Christ and his passion, and to grow in virtue, faith, hope and charity. The focus of hindu spirituality is to reach nirvana, through the elimination of desire (or am I confusing this with Buddhism?) which is completely different from Christianity. The spiritualities do not mix.

Like others have said, it is entirely OK for a Christian to use yoga as an exercise. But nothing beyond that.

I think the term “some Christians” is indeed part of the answer.

In the New Testament isn’t there a story about eating certain foods and whether it was OK for the Christians or not and Peter says that if it’s going to be a problem, or lead you astray, don’t do it, but if it’s neutral…go ahead and don’t worry about it.

For some Christians (and people of other faiths too) yoga can be a problem or a stumbling block, seeing that it could be that for them, they avoid it.

Other things mentioned, architechture, vestments, incense, the Church has clearly embraced and made clear the reasons for and the blessed uses for. But it has not embraced/repurposed yoga. Since it’s not recommended by the Church, or found to have a sacred purpose by the Church, people who feel it could lead them astray are wise to fear it and avoid it.

Also, there are particular postures and body gestures that are attached to different faiths and beliefs. I don’t think that it’s just coincidence that particular gestures are understood to have particular significance and meaning, sometimes universally.

Bowing to someone that you consider worthy of respect, kneeling to pray, kissing something to show reverence etc. Genuflection, the sign of the cross, folded hands, kneeling, veneration of the cross etc are part of the Catholic culture/practice.

Do these things have significance or are they meaningless? Is it fine to stroll into Church and not genuflect? Or not cross one’s forehead, lips and heart before the Gospel is read? There is a reason for those things, they become associated with certain beliefs etc.

In recovery it was suggested to me that I get on my knees to pray morning and night, and that YES, getting on my knees, no matter who or what I was praying too made a difference…the very act would put my spirit in a place of humility.

Yoga postures, perhaps for the great majority of people are nothing but stretches. But many people do, via seeing references and images in culture, associate those postures with various types of meditations and religions, and that might sway their mind if they engage in them.

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. If yoga causes you to feel confusion, stay away.

There is such a thing as healthy fear, and knowing one’s own weaknesses and limits

Thank you all for you generous and thoughtful responses. Yoga is more than an exercise. It is a philosophy, a science, and a way of life even if only doing postures, breath work, and meditation as I do. Though my meditation is probably more Buddhist in nature than yogic. I can see now after reading these posts how/why some Christians might view yoga as a slippery slope as someone wrote.
The postures of yoga and the breath work can be very beneficial for deepening any spiritual practice you may already have. I’m not implying that Christianity or Catholicism in particular make yogic practices part of the liturgy, but I am suggesting that practiced on an individual basis whether at a studio, a gym, or at home it can help to enhance one’s practice of their own faith. Or in my case bring me closer to having a faith practice other than secularism. Yoga has brought me much closer to the divine. Who knows one day I may be able to surrender to god. Peace.

Well said. :thumbsup::thumbsup:

Would it be feasible that in the future there could be a “Hindu rite” or religious order for hindus which takes yoga and “Christianizes” it? (I think the technical term is “inculturation”)
Christmas trees, easter eggs, greek philosophy, chinese philosophy, roman culture, all the languages in the world etc etc etc, Even the cross itself! All this has been brought in and conquered so that where before it was secular or pagan and superstitious; now it all points to Christ.
My understanding is that the church has a policy of assimilating all that is true and beautiful into its life and liturgy, because all that is true and beautiful is from God. So if there is truth and beauty in Yoga, even the spiritual aspects, then as long as it can be reconciled with existing Catholic dogma it should be embraced rather than rejected.

On a more practical and personal level, I also think this sums it up nicely:

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. If yoga causes you to feel confusion, stay away.

There is such a thing as healthy fear, and knowing one’s own weaknesses and limits

Always be grounded in Christ. He is the way the truth and the life. Everything else is secondary.

I know our secular franciscan order was bringing in someone for a one time yoga get together. I didn’t go so I don’t know what was taught. I once used to do a combination ballet/ yoga exercise routine when I was trying to lose weight. It was pure stretch and exercise. No spirituality or meditation involved.

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