Yoga okay for Catholics?

NOT planning on the styles that insist on “meditation” and all that mumbo-jumbo. Just wanting the physicality of it…

It’s great exercise!

I had a strange experience once in a yoga class. The instructor was into the whole spiritual path of yoga, and I just refused to participate in that aspect of it. But then, one day just as we were getting started with the class, my wrist blew out unexpectedly, for no possible reason, and I couldn’t do most of the exercises. A few days later, I had some other unexpected sharp pain that prevented me from participating. I got the message pretty quick–G-d was warning me to keep away from this yoga instructor!

But I do yoga on my own sometimes, especially to relieve back pain. It’s great!


I did some internet searches for beginner exercises, and all I found was Hindu’ed-out websites talking about the “spiritual path”…boring! Not to mention, pagan! If you, or anyone, know of any websites that could get me started that would be great.

Speaking as someone who’s taken Shaolin Fist Kung Fu for the past couple years (which has meditation, chi, and whatever else you please), I can safely as long as you don’t buy into their spirituality you should be fine. seems to be a decent site, should help.

Yoga Journal’s website has an awesome pose finder. You should consider taking a few classes just to have someone spot your form for you as a beginner. I found a class where the instructor was very sure to make people of all faiths feel comfortable. Most studios offer either the first or second class for free as an intro, and drop in rates are only $15 ordinarily.

I find that after practice I’m much more able to pray without distractions. The deep breathing, and the focus you have to give to your physical form practically eliminate the constant mind static that interferes with my prayers so often.

**Yoga – Health or Stealth?:tsktsk: **

Thanks for posting that article.

I read most of it and I just can’t see myself falling for any of the gumbo they were talking about. The only reason I would want to do yoga is for flexibility and strength training, nothing more. If this is pride that I think I am immune to an inherent evil harbored by this practice, pray for my humility. If not, pray for my well-being.

Your advice will be taken into consideration Bennie…

Greetings Scap,

I am a fairly conservative Catholic and have dabbled in yoga since taking a course in (Cathoic!) college.  I was taught Hatha Yoga and derived alot of benefits from it, physical, mental and spiritual.  I return to certain postures when back problems kick up. 

Bennie and Glowwriter above had issues with yoga and I have seen some very negative Catholic commentaries on it on EWTN and Catholic radio.  I have not experienced these problems, but I always tried to meditate on Christ and his sufferings while doing the postures and I stayed far away from the Hindu and new agey metaphysics.  I had no interest in that; after all, I have the truth in Catholic theology.

I have concluded that there is a good deal of wisdom about how the body works embedded in eastern approachs like yoga and martial arts.  This wisdom has come from thousands of years of practice and reflection.  This knowledge is not all bad, just tainted because it can be wrapped up in faulty theology.  Rejecting these disciplines out of hand would have been like the early church rejecting greek philosophy because it was originally pagan, or us rejecting western medicine because it is based on a materialistic foundation.  

It seems that for some these disciplines can be a gateway to the occult, but I don't think this is generally the case.  I would liken it to imbibing alcohol: for some it could lead to deadly soul killing alcoholism, while for most it is a pleasure which can be used in moderation.  Each believer needs to see what their particular strengths and weaknesses are.  

There is an interesting letter on new age phenomena from the vatican entitled "JESUS CHRIST THE BEARER OF THE WATER OF LIFE"

You might want to read it. The point they make is that practices like yoga should remain Christ-centered.

My problem wasn’t so much with yoga as with the instructor. But I like your idea about meditating on Christ while doing yoga. That’s a cool idea!

I think if you use only the physical exercises and/or meditate on Christ as you exercise, it should be fine.

Alternatively, for a really good low-impact workout, you could check out Pilates. I took a weekly class at my campus rec center over the summer, and the hour went by so quickly. I always felt super energized after class, and I always wished it could be longer. I’ve signed up for another class that goes through fall semester. Great stress relief, and no spiritual or meditative exercises, just good breathing and muscle toning exercises.

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