Is Yoga incompatible with Catholicism?

July 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog


The venerable Catholic priest of blessed memory, Fr. John Hardon, S.J., says it is, and he explains why:

Yoga is incompatible with Catholicism because the best known practice of Hindu spirituality is Yoga. “Inner” Hinduism professes pantheism, which denies that there is only one infinite Being who created the world out of nothing. This pantheistic Hinduism says to the multitude of uncultured believers who follow the ways of the gods that they will receive the reward of the gods. They will have brief tastes of heaven between successive rebirths on earth. But they will never be delivered from the “wheel of existence” with its illusory lives and deaths until they realize that only “God” exists and all else is illusion (Maya). To achieve this liberation the principal way is by means of concentration and self control (yoga).

Indian spirituality is perhaps best known by the practice of yoga, derived from the root yuj to unite or yoke, which in context means union with the Absolute. Numerous stages are distinguished in the upward progress toward the supreme end of identification: by means of knowledge with the deity; the practice of moral virtues and observance of ethical rules; bodily postures; control of internal and external senses; concentration of memory and meditation–finally terminating in total absorption (samadhi), “when the seer stands in his own nature” . . . (continue reading)

What do you think of this post?
interesting (0) cool (0) funny (0) wow (0) pshaw! (0)

Enter the Conversation...

38 Responses to “Is Yoga incompatible with Catholicism?”
  1. Y'Heard Me says:

    Patrick

    I have tried to address yoga and catholicism here:

    http://yheard.me/2009/01/27/yoga-and-catholicism/

    While I believe that some people are misguided in thinking that union with God originates with some physical method, or in thinking that they themselves are part of some pantheistic God, I do believe that yoga poses are a way to thank God for our bodies, optimizing the gift of our bodies, and doing some house cleaning for the house of the Holy Spirit. If we are mobile in old age we have more options in doing God's will.

  2. MicheleQ says:

    "For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths…." 2 Tim 4:3

    "Some of the traditions which flow into New Age are: ancient Egyptian occult practices, Cabbalism, early Christian gnosticism, Sufism, the lore of the Druids, Celtic Christianity, mediaeval alchemy, Renaissance hermeticism, Zen Buddhism, Yoga and so on.(15)

    Here is what is “new” about New Age. It is a “syncretism of esoteric and secular elements”.(16) They link into a widely-held perception that the time is ripe for a fundamental change in individuals, in society and in the world. There are various expressions of the need for a shift:

    – from Newtonian mechanistic physics to quantum physics;
    – from modernity's exaltation of reason to an appreciation of feeling, emotion and experience (often described as a switch from 'left brain' rational thinking to 'right brain' intuitive thinking);
    – from a dominance of masculinity and patriarchy to a celebration of femininity, in individuals and in society.

    In these contexts the term “paradigm shift” is often used. In some cases it is clearly supposed that this shift is not simply desirable, but inevitable. The rejection of modernity underlying this desire for change is not new, but can be described as “a modern revival of pagan religions with a mixture of influences from both eastern religions and also from modern psychology, philosophy, science, and the counterculture that developed in the 1950s and 1960s”.(17) New Age is a witness to nothing less than a cultural revolution, a complex reaction to the dominant ideas and values in western culture, and yet its idealistic criticism is itself ironically typical of the culture it criticizes." Jesus Christ Bearer of the Water of Life – PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR CULTURE – PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE

    Thanks Pat for posting on this!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I'm a practicing Catholic. I do yoga. Or I should say I do the "asanas"–the postures. We have never invoked any diety during any yoga class I have attended. I am sure there are those who practice yoga who are not Christians, just as sure as there were people in my former bowling leagues who were not Christians. I enjoy the health benefits of yoga which are immense. I enjoy the calming and meditative aspect, which does not lead me to searching out the nearest Hindu Temple, if I even knew where to begin, but to say Catholic prayers to myself. Most of the criticism I have seen here is based on ignorance. I am thankful I have an open mind and am willing to go beyond the superficial, or I would never have discovered the great benefits of yoga, and I would never have converted to Catholicism.

  4. Truthseeker23 says:

    Is there an altnernative to YOGA? for those who benefit from the physical aspect but do not want to endanger their soul.

  5. RC says:

    The other day a news item mentioned that Islamic authorities in Indonesia had instructed their faithful that it was not proper to chant during yoga.

    That seemed a reasonable approach: to let people use the exercises, but separate them from any illicit religious invocations.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Peterman,

    Only the truth of Christianity can save our souls. But that doesn't mean that truth we found elsewhere is of no value, even if it relates to the spiritual life. I'm just saying that Hinduism is in the same situation as Neo-Platonism – pagan wisdom waiting to be purified by the Church. I'm frankly kind of glad the Church did not adopt your Tertullianistic attitude towards Greek paganism. Hinduism may not be the Truth, but I'm not going to judge whether or not it is true (in whole, which would be unlikely, or in part) until I see what it says. The Fathers would have done no less.

    I do not think that yoga is compatible with Catholicism. It is based on a view of the soul which is dubious, though to my knowledge this view has never been examined from an orthodox Catholic perspective. Practicing it is dangerous because it opens the soul to influences that God closed to us, for our protection, at the Fall (the teaching of the Greek Fathers). My actual point was that you have no business attacking something you are ignorant of, and frankly, though ordinarily I have great love and respect for Fr. Hardon of blessed memory, his intellectual naivete in the article linked to was quite disappointing, and unworthy of him. Truth isn't served by ignorance.

    I am in the Church militant. But Catholics typically read books before burning them. Hinduism is not "another religion", as if Catholicism were one among many. There is only one religion. I am free to examine the spoils of the Egyptians with calm emotions and un-pre-judged indifference. If I am to turn against them in order to satisfy some superficial attempt at being the "Church militant", the first place I would turn my ire against is Thomism. Hinduism is at least religious; one cannot deny that people who spend their entire lives in contemplation hoping to lose their separation from God (not to become God in a pantheistic sense – the jiva is always distinguished from the Atman) are putting forth a pretty good effort for themselves. And it is undeniable that many have achieved true sanctity – the Buddha, for example, was regarded as a saint by St. Clement of Alexandria in Book 1 of the Stromateis. Greek philosophy by contrast is pagan to the core – polytheistic, atheistic, and rationalistic by turns. Yet I don't see you having your problem with it. How is Hinduism different? Christianity isn't being given a run for its money by Hinduism the way it was once in danger from Neoplatonism.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Mother Theresa lived in India for how many years helping the poor and she never exposed herself to Hindu Spirituality. I wonder why?

  8. Peterman says:

    Anony, "WE" don't have to take much care to learn ANYTHING about Hinduism. If it's not the TRUTH as passed down from our Lord to Peter and the apostles and through the Holy Roman Catholic Church it's of NO connsequence. The world is literally falling apart due to immoraliy, sin, and not enough people stating the TRUTH of our Lord and His Church pure and simple.

    Two quotes for you:
    "I count all else RUBBISH next to the surpassing knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." Phil 3:8

    "In this life you're either in the Church militant or get the hell out." Fr Coughlin

  9. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous,

    I take no little offense at your mischaracterization of hesychasm as "polytheism". It is no wonder that the Eastern and Western churches are still in schism when people indulge in such blatant refusal to understand each other's theology. The doctrine of the uncreated energies of God taught by St. Gregory Palamas form the teaching of the Eastern Church both Catholic and Orthodox, and his feast on the Second Sunday of Lent is celebrated with as great joy among us Catholics as among our separated brethren. To characterize it as "polytheism" is to deny that there can be multiple graces (because there are multiple people), or to deny that grace is a sharing in the life of God. What Palamas called "divine energies" is what the West calls "graces". Your slander against us is a sin, and your implicit denial of theosis is a heresy.

    We must also take as much care to understand Hinduism before interpreting it simplistically as being pantheistic. First of all, being a Hindu belief is not necessarily the same as being a false belief; there is no reason why we cannot take the "spoliae Aegyptorum" from India as we did from the pagan Greek philosophers. There is only one question we must ask – is it true? And the answer will generally come back no – not because Hinduism is "pantheistic" (it is not – God and the soul are "two birds in one tree", to quote the Munduk-Upanisad), but rather because it is acosmic (it denies the full reality of matter). Yoga should not be practiced until we understand Hinduism. But an obscurantist Western denial of anything you can't fit into a Thomist box is hardly an adequate reason for rejecting it.

  10. M. Burns says:

    Let's take a look at what other Catholic experts have to say about Yoga:

    Moira Noonan – (Revert to Catholicism who used to be HEAVILY involved in the New Age Movement and had actual occult powers. She had to be delivered of several demons of the occult.) Her article on Yoga is at http://www.spiritbattleforsouls.org/id36.html.

    Anne Feaster – She has two articles on Yoga on her Web site, http://www.swordoflightandtruth.org (click on Articles & Newsletters in the sidebar).

    Clare Merkle – Her article Yoga: Health or Stealth is found at http://www.crossveil.org/page7.html.

    Susan Brinkmann – (Correspondent for the Catholic Standard and Times which is the newspaper of the archdiocese of Philadelphia; member of third order discalced Carmelites.) On October 29, 2007, on Catholic Answers Live (http://www.catholic.com/radio/calendar.php) she informed us that Yoga was "invented" as a Hindu form of worship, and as such, EVERY Yoga posture is designed as a position of worship to a Hindu god. [it is interesting to note that St. Justin Martyr, in his First Apology, states that pagan gods are actually demons!*] For example, the Coepra (phonetic spelling) pose pays homage to the snake god; the chant/mantra is meant to bring the person into a trance so they can join with the "universal mind." Brinkmann also says Hindu professors laugh at the thought of "Christianizing" Yoga and they say Hinduism is always present in it regardless of what veneer one tries to put on it.

    These are all orthodox, practicing Catholics who have thoroughly researched this topic, and they ALL tell us that Yoga is not compatible with our Catholic faith. It is prudent to listen to them. If it's exercise one wants, there are many kinds of exercise which are not associated with a religion from which we can choose. As for the "take what is good from other religions" bit, the Catholic Church has been around for 2000+ years. It has already "accepted" whatever goodness/truths there are in any other religion and Yoga has NEVER been included–for good reason!

    *C.f., 1 Corinthians 10:20 …what pagans sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God….

    1 Corinthians 10:21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.

    Ephesians 4:14 We must no longer be…tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people's trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Religions, however, that are bound up with an advanced culture have struggled to answer the same questions by means of more refined concepts and a more developed language. Thus in Hinduism, men contemplate the divine mystery and express it through an inexhaustible abundance of myths and through searching philosophical inquiry. They seek freedom from the anguish of our human condition either through ascetical practices or profound meditation or a flight to God with love and trust. Again, Buddhism, in its various forms, realizes the radical insufficiency of this changeable world; it teaches a way by which men, in a devout and confident spirit, may be able either to acquire the state of perfect liberation, or attain, by their own efforts or through higher help, supreme illumination. Likewise, other religions found everywhere try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing "ways," comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites. ***The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions.*** She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect ***a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men.*** Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.(4)

    The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they *recognize*, *preserve* and *promote* the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men.

    DECLARATION ON THE RELATION OF THE CHURCH TO NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS
    NOSTRA AETATE
    PROCLAIMED BY HIS HOLINESS
    POPE PAUL VI
    ON OCTOBER 28, 1965

  12. Anonymous says:

    BT,

    I wonder how familiar you are with the Eastern practice of Hesychasm,

    or whether you realize that that is the Eastern practice which is most appropriate to your comments,

    or whether you realize that the late medieval version of hesychasm (which is still current among the monks of the Greek Church, for example and especially Mount Athos) is a form of polytheism,

    or that Thomas Aquinas expended much more energy than the sixty seconds it takes to post a comment on a weblog for the discussion of hesychasm and the polytheistic later perversion of it,

    or that hesychasm is attested as early as perhaps the fourth century (in the Sayings of the Desert Fathers) in a much different form, which does not insist of the heretical elements which have persisted in the Eastern Church's notion since Gregory Palamas in the 13th century.

    BT said…
    "When Byzantine and Eastern monastic practice incorporate most of the techniques of Yoga into a decidedly Christian system of meditation and prayer, superficial concerns about pantheism flagrantly demonstrate the limitations of the overly scholastic Latin thinking, and underscore how positive it is that the Universal Church includes many rites and systems of thought in communion with Rome."

  13. fabricdragon says:

    is stretching/movement a problem? no
    is exercise a problem? no
    is yoga a problem? yes

    "YOGA" is more than stretching or exercise, it is a practice that *incorporates* religion/meditation/worship, and in addition if you buy books, purchase labeled "yoga" supplies, or attend a yoga studio, you are very likely pouring money into a pagan religion.

    when Yoga books, materials and etc are purchased, the book publishers say "yoga books sell" and they are willing to publish more, and MOST of the authors are enthusiastically pushing either an Atheistic viewpoint, or a Pagan one.

    In addition, if you follow the yoga routine as it is presented, you are walking through a pagan worship ritual..
    "first we are born, then we stand, then we salute the sun in its majesty, then we salute the moon, (then a few other parts i forget, sorry), then we die, then we are reborn" thats from one of the *simpler* exercise patterns i learned in Yoga.

    yes i used to take yoga
    yes i used to sell yoga books, and other books,
    and i also used to sell Hindu statuary and incense to the people running the studio down the street.

    can you take yoga *physical strecthes and postures* and divorce them from their religious roots… sure you can. but why pour money into the pagan religious practices to get the information? if you already know Yoga, and can keep it "non religious" go ahead… otherwise i suggest strongly you try Pilates, or something like that.

    from a former Pagan, who knows a LOT of yoga practitioners….

  14. Anonymous says:

    The fact is many in the west have the wrong concept about yoga, that it is something connected to Hindu religion alone. As Fr.Chandrankunnel clarified above it is not so and I think it is obvious that he would have a better understanding of what yoga is, than Fr.Hardon. I too am from India, and here because we are in a multi-religious, multi-cultural environment we see many good practices of other groups these can be used by us without any of the religious content which may have been added on.
    Sunil Korah, Kochi,

  15. Steve's Zushi says:

    this is good topic on one issue about yoga… nice informational post… i, personally, being a Catholic my self, practice yoga only for its physical benefits and not for spirituality. I practice more of a westernized approach to yoga :D

  16. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Deacon Mike, but I think I'll take Father Hardon's word for it. Fr. Hardon being a Jesuit, I'm very sure he did exhaustive background reading.

    I hope you'll again read Fr Hardon's article. He was a learned Jesuit and was probably a Saint. I'll take the spiritual advice of a Catholic Saint over a Yogi any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

  17. Michael says:

    A typically unresearched question, and, regrettably, an uniformed, shallow answer from an almost fossilized, dogmatic view. "Is yoga…" – well, let's see: From my perspective there is Kundalini Yoga,Bhakti Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Kriya Yoga and Raja Yoga. The answer should have made a clear distinction, if it wished to make half an effort at professional advice to the questioner. Simply have a look at the system(s) and ask, what is its intent? Quite clearly Hatha Yoga stands out as a "gymnastic system" with numerous health benefits to the practicing individual, if one bothered to do some background reading – and it is as remote from the Rosary as is the Rich Man from Lazarus – just to comment on one of the earlier posts here. AND it is as compatible with Catholicism as is any sport!

    Sort of reminds me of a Christian friend's exhortation to me years ago not to practice Karate, because "Karatekas worship pagean gods". The friend, similar to the questioner above, had never done any research here, and I, having obtained a Black Belt after ten years intense practice in various Karate disciplines, remained a faithful Deacon in my church and never witnessed any practices not compatible with Catholicism!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Good point Robert. We can stretch and meditate for great health and even spiritual health anytime and anywhere.

    The problem begins when we would attend any organized yoga session. This then exposes us to the paganism. I've seen sign after sign after sign for "Yoga" all across the United States. I've never seen that said "Catholic stretching" anywhere, though it may exist.

    If such a thing did exist I would certainly expect it to be male and female separate, not co-ed. So right from the get go if you attend something called a "yoga" class there's a good chance you're putting yourself into a pagan situation not to mention that you could be right next to the opposite sex dressed in skin tight or revealing clothes.. Now, I imagine that there are some folks reading this thinking "wow, that's a puritanical fundamentalist." Nope, just a Catholic who tries to "run from sin as if from the plague."

    The world is rotting through due to sin, immodesty, and immorality. Remember that our Lady at Fatima said more souls fall into Hell due to sins of the flesh than any other.

  19. robert says:

    Yoga for me is stretching and fitness. I dont pray to false gods when i do yoga. This is sillyness.

  20. Paul Dion, STL says:

    Hey, you all:
    Not a single one has touched upon the essence of why Yoga and Catholicism are incompatible. It is because in Yoga the exercises/asanas of the physical body are essential to the awakening of the divine that is always present in the body and is part of the person. Catholics do not believe this. Catholics believe that the human and God are totally separate beings and that God is always the source of the acts of the human being through His Grace. I see a lot of negotiating in the list of comments herein put forward, but there is no negotiating. Yoga is meant to awaken the divine within us; Catholicism says that the divine is the One who awakes us and invites us to join Him and follow Him. Catholics cannot negotiate that essential belief away.

  21. Anonymous says:

    First of all let me inform you that Father Hardon might not be knowing what exactly meant by Yoga. I am a Catholic priest teaching in a Pontifical Athanaeum Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, Bangalore and I consider that Father Hardon's ignorance made him to asser such a position. Here in India, as the St. Thomas Christians who recieved the faith from Apostle Thomas and thus belongs to an Apostolic Church consider that Yoga can be practised and it need not be connected with Hindusim alone. Our priests, Bishops, religious both sisters and monks in addition to thousands of laity practice yoga. Yoga is often identified with Hindusim and it is really a wrong conclusion. One can practice yoga with Christian chants, and concentrating on Jesus Christ, the Sanatana SatGuru. I have been practicing it for decades and it is indeed a good meditation practice!
    chandrankunnel@gmail.com, Bangalore, India

  22. Tap says:

    I use some of the exercises in yoga on my Wii.. there is one exercise that has you meditate for 3 minutes without moving. T
    he screen has a candle I use that time to close my eyes and pray a decade of the rosary.
    All things are good and the way God intends if you listen to the Holy Spirit.

  23. Anonymous says:

    You said it well Mike. Or as Saint Paul said "I count all else rubbish."

  24. Anonymous says:

    Anon, What is meant by "numerous Catholic monasteries offer Yoga" Numerous Catholic nuns also came out in support of Obamacare and it's KNOWN abortion funding. The world is currently turned on it's head due to rampant heresy.

    If you're in the Atlanta area you're quite lucky because you've got an FSSP Church there with daily Latin Mass. Seek out the priests there and ask their advice. Any priest who has the dedication to do the work of a priest so perfectly including the HOly Sacrifice of the Mass is likely to have some great advice for you.

  25. Mike says:

    This blending of East and West is a bit of a mess. I have encountered yoga teachers who incorporate prayers into their classes – prayers to dead yogi, some kind of spirits, and what-not – but they won't admit anything other than that these prayers are really "mantras" to help people relax, focus, etc. There has been too much of this sort of nonsense in Catholic institutions.

    In any event, Hindu and Buddhist practices seek to empty the person – Catholic practices seek to fill the person with God. Seems like there is a fundamental difference in what is being done.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Who should we take our advice from? Numerous Catholic Monasteries offer Yoga retreats, led by Brother Priests and Monks. Refer to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, GA.

  27. Grumpy Yogi says:

    Barlaam and Josaphat is a Christianized version of the story of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism.

  28. Anonymous says:

    First, you might be interested to see this:

    http://www.domcentral.org/trad/domdocs/0005.htm

    St. Dominic's Nine Ways of Prayer.

    Self-flagellation aside, the prayer-postures look a lot like some asanas (physical postures) in yoga. Or how about Fr. Gabriel Bunge's book Earthen Vessels?

    We face east to pray; we do prostrations; Eastern Christians put their hands into a position in order to remind their body of the Most Holy Trinity.

    See also J. M. Dechanet's Christian Yoga– not in print, but orthodox Catholicism by all counts, though I am not sure many here will read it.

    St. Thomas's encounter with Aristotle proved fruitful because he was immersed in the Tradition and was able to discover what was good. Eastern Christianity's Anonymous and BT are the only ones open to real dialogue here. Fr. John Hardon's approach is quick, vindictive, fortress Catholicism. Please see the sources above if you'd like to read a more educated response.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Do you even know what a sun salutation is? For the record, I'm not a new ager, I'm a devout, orthodox, practicing Catholic. But I'm not superstitious – and stretching your hands to the ceiling, touching your toes, and lowering yourself to the floor in a pushup position before pushing back to stretch your hamstrings is hardly a pagan practice that will risk taking your soul to hell. Unless of course you're intending to be worshiping the sun while you're doing it. I don't – the only Son I worship is the Son of God. And I do so in Church, during the mass.

    Frankly, if you were to eliminate all yoga-style exercises from western stretching, you wouldn't be able to do any stretching at all, because yoga stretches the body in all the same ways. It's just more methodical and thorough about it. And in case you forgot, one thing the Church teaches is that we should acknowledge what is good in other religions, and yoga is a good system of exercise that does more for the body than regular western exercise.

    By your reasoning, we also better throw out all philosophy and quit using the word Logos for Christ, along with a whole host of other Greek words, because they originated in ancient, pagan Greece and will risk damning your soul to hell if you use them.

    Hindu yoga is a huge system of which the physical exercises are only one part. Hindu gurus themselves teach you can't do just the physical exercises and have it be yoga, you have to do the other stuff too. So I repeat, doing the physical exercises of yoga – not the breathing, meditating, chanting, or any of the belief systems – is fine. Just stay away from the other stuff.

    By the way, Catholic Answers apologists say the same thing on their website.

  30. Anonymous says:

    "Sun Salutation"? C'mon anonymous, what a load that is. I'll say what you were trying to say whilst still justifying your new age, pagan yoga: If you want to stretch out and do some calisthenics, great, the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and thus must remain strong and healthy. Anything else even remotely related to yoga is pure paganry and risks taking the soul down to hell.

  31. Patrick Madrid says:

    Great catch, Tommy. I fixed it. Thank you.

  32. Tommy says:

    TYPO: Patrick, your blog headline asks: "Is Yoga incompatible with Catholicism?"

    Then you answer: "…Fr. John Hardon, S.J., says that it is NOT,…"

  33. Mark G. says:

    To BP – If yoga, properly, is the Hindu practice physical exercises that lead your spirit to encounter its inner god, or nothingness, or whatever, then the article is absolutely correct – yoga is incompatible with Christianity. If one attends a yoga class, they will quite likely be exposed to or indoctrinated into this spiritual scheme.

    Your comment took the plain content & meaning of the article, then extrapolated its application out to similar practices of Eastern Christianity, then concluded the article was incorrect. That is really a false comparison & disingenuous conclusion. There is great value in myriad of practices within Catholic Christianity, but Hinduism isn't one of them.

    Thus, the article in no way "flagrantly demonstrates the limitations of overly scholastic Latin thinking." It is accurate & correct in what it says.

  34. Jose says:

    When the Lord said, "Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: And you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light;" I don't think he was talking about Yoga.

    &
    As Catholics we have been handed down a great patrimony which includes forms of meditation and reflection which can be beneficial in our daily lives. I have personally learned that the Rosary, Lectio Divina, Spiritual Exercises, and other forms of prayer do much to improve the health of both body and soul.

  35. Rouxfus says:

    @BT – I suspect that the yoga-like techniques of Byzantine and Eastern monastics remain Christ-centered. However, I would be willing to bet that not one in a hundred yoga practice centers in the world promote and teach Christ-centered yoga.

  36. Anonymous says:

    I like Fr. Hardon, but BT is correct, Christianity has always adapted things from other cultures. The Church doc on the New Age, which mentions yoga, only talks about it in terms of different meditation or consciousness exercises, not in terms of the physical exercises.

    According to yoga gurus in India, when you practice the physical exercises apart from the spirituality of Hinduism, it's not yoga, it's just gymnastics. But very healthy gymnastics. And there are Indian Catholics who do yoga – including one religious order of priests I know of, who do yoga in their seminary.

    There's nothing inherent about physical poses themselves that cause any type of spirituality – to say they can, despite your intention, is superstitious. The body is made by God, and a practicing Catholic in a state of grace can do physical yoga exercises without danger. And if you want to be spiritual about it, then just think "Son" when you do the sun salutation, as in "Son of God," and worship Christ.

    The main danger for Catholics is those who don't know their Faith well, take classes in a new age or Hindu environment, and uncritically take in any spirituality mixed into the class. You just need to be selective about where you do it. Most regular gym classes stay away from spirituality, and there are lots of yoga videos that do the same, because wanting to appeal to a large audience.

    Not everyone agrees on this, but I think it's one of those areas where we are free to disagree, because the Church has said nothing about the physical practice of yoga by itself.

  37. BT says:

    When Byzantine and Eastern monastic practice incorporate most of the techniques of Yoga into a decidedly Christian system of meditation and prayer, superficial concerns about pantheism flagrantly demonstrate the limitations of the overly scholastic Latin thinking, and underscore how positive it is that the Universal Church includes many rites and systems of thought in communion with Rome.

Share Your Thoughts...

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar for free here!
Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately...

*