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Nicole Diostilio wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am a 27-year-old Catholic woman who follows her religion. My question pertains to yoga.

I have been doing yoga for the past six months only to recently find out, from some family members, that it is evil.

From my experience it's a bunch of stretches that make you more limber and help in maintaining one's weight. I am very vexed — terribly, terribly vexed. There is no talk of gods, mantras, meditation, or anything. If there is any of that, I wouldn't know because I fast-forward to get to the exercises.

  • Is there any credence to what some of my family members have said about yoga?

Please help!

Sincerely,

Nicole

  { Is there any credence to what some of my family members have said about yoga? }

Mike replied:

Hi Nicole,

Thanks for the very good question. This is a big concern of mine.

You said:
I have been doing yoga for the past six months only to recently find out, from some family members, that it is evil.

From my experience it's a bunch of stretches that make you more limber and help in maintaining one's weight. I am very vexed — terribly, terribly vexed. There is no talk of gods, mantras, meditation, or anything. If there is any of that, I wouldn't know because I fast-forward to get to the exercises.

  • Is there any credence in what some of my family members have said about yoga?

I would tend to agree with your family members. I have several references, one from the Vatican, that I think are very good on this issue:

What I got out of Clare's video is:

It depends on to what stage you get involved.

I don't think anyone will disagree that stretching to make you a more limber person is healthy for you, as with any exercise. I should probably be exercising more than I am today!

The problem comes in down the road when they start offering meditations involving mantras.
Per Clare's video, what you have experienced are stages 1 — 4 of yoga. What your family and I are concerned about are stages 5 — 8. The Christian who gets involved past stage 4 of the stretching and exercises would be persuaded to do and say things against their own faith.

These Yoga instructors have alternative motives other than just physical exercise, but are obviously going to deny this. I remember Fr. Mitch Pacwa giving a talk on this topic. In the later stages of yoga, the suggested mantra is something where one has to say something that denies their Christian faith to get in union with God. This could be something related to a basic teaching of the faith or something referring to another deity that has a sensual overtone to it.

I believe that the Christian who practices yoga has to be cautious to ensure that their yoga exercises are kept at a certain exercise stage, instead of allowing themselves to be pulled into a group think type of conformity, where everyone will say:

Come on Nicole! Everyone else is doing it. Why aren't you?

Most of these mantras are from Far East spiritualities because yoga originated in India, mainly a Hindu country.

She states in the third paragraph:

The fifth stage is withdrawal of the senses. The next three stages involve deep concentration, deep meditation and lastly the state of samadhi or
self-collectedness, in which the mediator and the object of meditation become one.

This is the final stage before union with God or with the Self (as others believe) and the final release from the cycle of rebirth.

I hope this answers your question.

Mike

Bob replied:

Nicole,

If you only subscribe to the fitness component of the Yoga program, and do not adhere to philosophies which contradict the truth of the Catholic faith, then you are okay.

If your faith is weak and exposure to false teaching would put you at risk of being swayed to untruth, then there would be a problem. (Hence the concern of your family)

In short, what you are doing is fine, for now. It may be helpful to understand the components of Yoga that derive from eastern religions and philosophies and know how they do not jive with our faith. That could prevent you from confusion at any point.

Peace,

Bob K.

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