Yoga is not – and never will be – an exercise regime. In reality, and in the eyes of most people, it is intimately associated with the practice of Hinduism. Your participation in it could make it seem as if the practice of yoga, and therefore Hinduism, is okay for Christians – which it is not.
Do you like Yoga? Do you DO Yoga? I thought Yoga looked pretty neat – especially when claims of weight loss & strengthening were attributed to doing Yoga.
Of course; as a Cradle Catholic I was told that it was “evil” and never to do it. So I stayed away. But I always asked myself tons of questions why? Why was it considered “evil” ? Was this just a scrupulous idea that was passed down? Or was there something more behind Yoga? It was already being taught at some Catholic Schools, and many Catholics I knew did Yoga; so it made me think a lot about it… and I went on a Yoga-Information spree.
So this is what I found:
What is IS Yoga really? | Why do they say Yoga is evil?
Before looking at the Term: “YOGA” from the Christian’s perspective, I wanted to let the secular speak for itself.
a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation.
What is Yoga?
Yoga poses are great to strengthen and relax the body, but there’s a lot more to Yoga than that.
Derived from the Sankrit word “yuj” which means “to unite or integrate”; yoga is a 5,000+ year old Indian body of knowledge. Yoga is all about harmonizing the body with the mind and breath through the means of various breathing exercises, yoga poses (asanas) and meditation.
The origins of yoga have been speculated to date back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions, it is mentioned in the Rigveda,[note 1] but most likely developed around the sixth and fifth centuries BCE, in ancient India’s ascetic and śramaṇa movements.[note 2] The chronology of earliest texts describing yoga-practices is unclear, varyingly credited to Hindu Upanishads. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali date from the first half of the 1st millennium CE, but only gained prominence in the West in the 20th century. Hatha yoga texts emerged around the 11th century with origins in tantra.
Yoga gurus from India later introduced yoga to the west, following the success of Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th and early 20th century. In the 1980s, yoga became popular as a system of physical exercise across the Western world. Yoga in Indian traditions, however, is more than physical exercise; it has a meditative and spiritual core. One of the six major orthodox schools of Hinduism is also called Yoga, which has its own epistemology and metaphysics, and is closely related to Hindu Samkhya philosophy.
CATHOLIC ADVICE ON YOGA:
Click on the names for the full article / source
SUSAN BRINKMANN – New Age specialist/author:
A goldmine of information on Yoga from “Women of Grace” a Catholic website. You can read pages and pages of article, all here.
Pope Francis reminded listeners that practices like yoga aren’t capable of opening our hearts up to God. “You can take a million catechetical courses, a million courses in spirituality, a million courses in yoga, Zen and all these things. But all of this will never be able to give you.freedom” The Pope tells us that only the Holy Spirit can “move the heart” and make it “docile to the Lord, docile to the freedom of love”. If we are seeking a zen-like peace from yoga meditation, then we are seeking peace from the wrong source.
“……I had forty years of knowledge and experience in the Yogic Traditions before returning to the Catholic Church. It is in true charity that I offer this….
…In the mystical occult teachings of yoga it is the stretching poses which open the subtle body to activate the kundalini. Other poses will induce levels of meditation states which open one up to unite with Hindu deities….”
You can read the entire Facebook post in which he writes in answer to a question about Yoga here;
“While if you are innocently doing it, and you are in a state of grace and regularly receive communion you may not get a demonic attachment, or bring any new demon friends home with you, but why… WHY would you intentionally do something that would potentially do that?
Also doesn’t it say a lot that nearly all yoga studios dabble in reiki, chakras, and have statues or images of eastern gods in their buildings? You go into a building dabbled with occult symbolism, practice acts associated with a demonic religion, and then claim you’re there because it helps your back???? Can’t you just do Pilates????
Of COURSE satan makes it appealing… it wouldn’t be temptation if it wasn’t! If we are in a situation where we are constantly having to make excuses to ourselves and others why what we are doing is ‘ok’ isn’t is a sign that we really have to examine ourselves?”
And here Mr. King talks about Yoga in a short video;
“In our times, there are innumerable ways and methods by which appropriate and proper exercise of the human body can be undertaken that present no real danger to our faith or to our Catholic beliefs and commitments. It would be most desirable for persons who are Catholic to abstain from the practice of yoga and use other methods to exercise . . . . We are never allowed to place our Catholic faith unnecessarily in any danger, and certainly the practice of yoga could be an occasion of serious sin . . .”
Fr. Mitch Pacwa:
As Fr. Pacwa states in his book, Catholics and the New Age, ” . . . (H)indus did not devise these exercises for athletic limbering or muscle building. All were meant to lead the practitioner to enlightenment and awareness of his or her inner divinity.” (pg. 33).
But can’t we just do Yoga Stretches? While saying the Rosary or meditating on Jesus?
See excerpts from an article from Women of Grace, written by guest Blogger Connie J. Fait, a former Tibetan nun, yogi, and head of a Tibetan Buddhist Temple who spent 40 years steeped in the practice and study of the yogic traditions before returning to her native Catholicism. In this blog, she carefully explains why the effects of yoga can occur whether or not we will it or think we’re “just doing the exercises.”
“In the mystical occult teachings of yoga it is the stretching poses which open the subtle body to activate the kundalini. Other poses will induce levels of meditation states which open one up to unite with Hindu deities.
Iyengar Yogacharia said, the ‘mere’ practice of asana has the potential to induce a meditative state.(2) This spontaneously occurs based on each unique individual and can happen at any unpredictable time from early in practice for a novice to one who is very advanced.
In conclusion, since all effects of yoga asanas are not a personally willed experience, they only occur spontaneously. Clearly, the willful act to practice any of the asanas is predictably dangerous for ones body, mind and soul.
For most people this information is not completely unknown except in innocent children being taught poses. As Jesus commanded, we are not to have anything to do with any part of these traditions for fear of not entering the kingdom of God. It is difficult for Christians to turn completely away from Yoga asanas for many complex reasons. It will take informed knowledge, self conviction, humility, and the power of Gods grace.”
(Why Can’t Yoga Just Be an Exercise?
Posted on October 22, 2012 by SBrinkmann)
“….Legendary guru B.K.S. Iyengar confirms this in his book, Light on Yoga, where he says that some yoga positions “are also called after gods of the Hindu pantheon and some recall the Avataras, or incarnation of Divine Power.”
Having said all that, we come to a purely logical conclusion – it’s not possible to “just do them as an exercise” when the so-called “exercises” aren’t just exercises.
That would be like saying the sign of the cross can be used as a triceps exercise. Sure, you can use it that way, but it’s not – and never will be – a triceps exercise. Like yoga positions, it can never be a mere “physical action” or “neutral” because it has a profound spiritual meaning.
Others attempt to lend Christian names to these poses, or to pray the Rosary while practicing them; however, none of these actions negates the intrinsic Hindu meanings in these poses, at least not according to Bishop Norberto Carerra.
In his pastoral instruction on the New Age, A Call to Vigilance: Pastoral Instruction on New Age, Bishop Carerra writes: “However much proponents insist that these techniques are valuable as methods, and imply no teaching contrary to Christianity, the techniques in themselves . . . in their own context, the postures and exercises, are designed for their specific religious purpose. Even when they are carried out within a Christian atmosphere, the intrinsic meaning of these gestures remains intact.”
So even if you think you’re stretching your back, if you’re using the Sun Stretch to do so, whether you intend to or not, you’re still posing in a position of worship to the Sun god because that’s what this pose was designed to do. It was never designed as a back stretch.
It works the same way with someone who uses the sign of the cross to work out their triceps. They may indeed be working out these muscles, but regardless of their intentions, they’re still working out these muscles by making a sign of profession of faith in the Triune God.
My advice is that if the idea of posing yourself in a position of worship to a Hindu god is even remotely bothersome to you, stop doing it. There are plenty of other exercises/stretches you can do that work just as well as yoga…”
….#2 Does God not look at the heart of a man? So when you are stretching or holding a pose if your intent is not on Hindu principals what then makes the stretch/ pose wrong?
Yes, God looks at the heart of man, and one must have intention in order to sin. Most yoga poses were designed as positions of worship to Hindu gods, but if you don’t intend to worship those gods, you’re not sinning.
However, if you understand how the occult functions, you’ll know that this doesn’t shield you from other harm, such as possible oppression from hostile spiritual entities. Let me explain.
We all know that pagan gods don’t exist; however, as any exorcist will tell you, demons lurk behind these names. So when you perform the Half Moon pose, which worships Ganesh, a demon may decide to answer. Maybe you aren’t intending to bow down to Ganesh, but what about the guy or gal next to you in class? Maybe they ARE bowing to Ganesh and in doing so, call down hostile spiritual entities who could care less who invited them. If you’re in the vicinity, and you’re not in a state of grace which protects you from their influence, you’re open game. This is why the bishop of Oklahoma City warned people not to attend last year’s black mass out of “curiosity” because, depending on their state of grace, they risk outright possession just by being in the room.
That’s something to consider before bowing down to these gods, whether you intend to or not.
#3 I personally stretch and did not know that a lot of the stretches come from a yoga practice but the stretch was very helpful in reducing my muscle spasms…does that make it wrong?
Again, yoga poses were never created to be stretches or exercises. They are integral to the practice of Hinduism and are meant to lead the practitioner to enlightenment and awareness of his or her inner divinity.
This means that instead of saying, “I’m just doing the exercises” when referring to yoga, it would be more accurate to say, “I’m using a Hindu spiritual practice as an exercise regime.”
That being said, as a former fitness instructor I can tell you that you don’t need yoga to stretch. In fact, some studies, such as the one outlined in this blog, have found that conventional stretching is just as good – if not better – than yoga.
#4 Many things that we do come from some sort of pagan ritual. Why is it wrong to take the benefits from those ideas and make it centered around Christ?
Again, this question is based on an erroneous assumption that Christianity comes from paganism. As for the rest of the question, it has now been made clear that yoga was never designed as exercise, but is part of the practice of Hinduism. This makes the practice of “Holy Yoga” or any kind of Christian yoga that attempts to Christianize the practice by slapping prayer over it to be in direct violation of the Lord’s admonition in Deuteronomy 12:31 that we are not to worship him the way the pagans do.
Personally, I see Christian yoga as even worse than the “I’m just doing the exercises” argument because by applying prayer, now you ARE recognizing the worship aspect of yoga and are trying to make it Christian – something that cannot be done in spite of all those fundamentalists out there who like to make the erroneous argument that we adopt other things from pagan practices so why not this?
As for Holy Yoga, Brooke Boone’s work has been widely criticized for its significant theological errors in regard to both Hinduism and Christianity so I wouldn’t consider her work to be authoritative on either. This blog will explain more:
#5 If the class was the same but named different. Would you support the idea behind Bringing God into your exercise?
I fully support the idea of bringing God into exercise and do so just about every day! I regularly do a variety of core workouts that have nothing to do with yoga, as well as weight lifting which remains the gold standard for improving muscle tone, increasing metabolism (for weight control) and bone health.
It’s one thing to “bring God into your exercises” but it’s quite another to bring God into the practice of a polytheistic religion which does not recognize the One True God that we worship and adore….
….The bottom line is that every serious practitioner of yoga knows that the spiritual and physical aspects of yoga are inseparable….
Exorcists Condemn Yoga:
During a recent interview, Dominican priest and exorcist Father Juan Jose Gallego of the Archdiocese of Barcelona said that both Reiki and some forms of yoga can be points of entry for demons.
CNA is reporting on the comments made by the exorcist to the Spanish daily, El Mundo, in which he said that pride is the sin the devil likes the most. He also warned that “New Age” practices like Reiki and some yoga can be points of entry for the demons, and called addictions a “type of possession.” …..
In 1999, while serving as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he issued the document “Some Aspects of Christian Meditation“ in which he warns Catholics about the dangers of eastern practices such as yoga, Zen, and transcendental meditation, saying that these practices have the danger of degenerating “into a cult of the body” that debases Christian prayer.
In this video, Father Chad Ripperger, FSSP, a full-time exorcist, describes how he has seen people become possessed through the practice of yoga.
- Before you click on the links, be aware that the women are (of course) dressed immodestly.
- Personally I find Zumba and the like really dumb and I wouldn’t be caught dead doing it… plus the dance moves and the music sometimes are not the most “pure”. But that’s for another time. Just be prudent please.
- “Praise Moves” was also recommended by Women of Grace but, personally.. it’s the silliest, “stupidest” thing I’ve ever seen and I wouldn’t ever do it.. perhaps as an act of humility… I think it’s really making a mockery of our Religion the way its displayed. BUT! That’s just my opinion 😉 Again, be prudent, and pray about all this!
- Also see article, Study: Conventional Stretching Exercises Just as Effective as Yoga
And… NUMBER ONE!
Here are 15 quotes on the Rosary from CatholicGentleman
1. “The Rosary is the ‘weapon’ for these times.” -Saint Padre Pio
2. “Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world.” – Blessed Pope Pius IX
3. “The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.” – Saint Francis de Sales
4. “Some people are so foolish that they think they can go through life without the help of the Blessed Mother. Love the Madonna and pray the rosary, for her Rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world today. All graces given by God pass through the Blessed Mother.” -St. Padre Pio
5. “Go to the Madonna. Love her! Always say the Rosary. Say it well. Say it as often as you can! Be souls of prayer. Never tire of praying, it is what is essential. Prayer shakes the Heart of God, it obtains necessary graces!” -St. Padre Pio
6. “The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results.” -St. Josemaria Escriva
7. “Say the Holy Rosary. Blessed be that monotony of Hail Mary’s which purifies the monotony of your sins!” -St. Josemaria Escriva
8. “For those who use their intelligence and their study as a weapon, the Rosary is most effective. Because that apparently monotonous way of beseeching Our Lady as children do their Mother, can destroy every seed of vainglory and pride.” – St. Josemaria Escriva
9. “You always leave the Rosary for later, and you end up not saying it at all because you are sleepy. If there is no other time, say it in the street without letting anybody notice it. It will, moreover, help you to have presence of God.” – St. Josemaria Escriva
10. “The Rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin…If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors.” – Pope Pius XI
11. “The rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the rosary is beyond description.” – Archbishop Fulton Sheen
12. ““The Rosary is the most excellent form of prayer and the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life. It is the remedy for all our evils, the root of all our blessings. There is no more excellent way of praying.” Pope Leo XIII
13. “No one can live continually in sin and continue to say the Rosary: either they will give up sin or they will give up the Rosary” – Bishop Hugh Doyle
14. “The Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families…that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.” -Sister Lucia dos Santos of Fatima
15. “Here is an example to help you understand the efficacy of the Rosary. You remember the story of David who vanquished Goliath. What steps did the young Israelite take to overthrow the giant? He struck him in the middle of the forehead with a pebble from his sling. If we regard the Philistine as representing evil and all its powers: heresy, impurity, pride, we can consider the little stones from the sling capable of overthrowing the enemy as symbolizing the Aves of the Rosary.
“The ways of God are entirely different from our ways. To us it seems necessary to employ powerful means in order to produce great effects. This is not God’s method; quite the contrary. He likes to choose the weakest instruments that He may confound the strong: “God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong — Infirma mundi elegit ut confundat fortia” (1 Cor 1:27).
“Have you not often met poor old women who are most faithful to the pious recitation of the Rosary? You also must do all that you can to recite it with fervour. Get right down, at the feet of Jesus: it is a good thing to make oneself small in the presence of so great a God.” – Dom Columba Marmion, Christ, the Ideal of the Priest
Also, read, The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis deMontfort. Believe me, after reading this book, your mind will be blown!
I personally recite the rosary (with an audio rosary on my phone) while walking on the treadmill! This is a really great way to “meditate” and “exercise” – that isn’t humiliating or a danger to the soul.
That’s it for now!
May God bless you and Keep It Trad!