Frequently Asked Questions
Is it ok to practice yoga for theological benefits?
Yes, as long as your purpose and intent is honor our one true God. Yoga is not a religion, but it was used historically as a Hindu spiritual practice. What is not inline with the Catholic Church is the syncretism between the Catholic faith and Hinduism. Syncretism is the blending of beliefs so that the beliefs are held as equally important. Synthesis is the adoption of practices to enhance a current belief system. In short, the theological objective of yoga must be to glorify the Holy Trinity.
Didn't Pope Francis say that Catholics can't do yoga?
If you are referring to Pope Francis's homily in 2016, then no. He was merely saying that the only thing that can truly lead us to accepting God is the Holy Spirit. If he was truly condemning yoga, then he would have also condemned catechismal courses which is stated at the beginning of the statement.
Ok, but didn't Pope John Paul II say that Catholics can't do yoga?
Nope, he didn't. In the Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation, he educates those who read the letter on the Christian stance which is that eastern methods should not "be rejected out of hand simply because they are not Christian. On the contrary, one can take from them what is useful so long as the Christian conception of prayer, its logic and requirements are never obscured" (John Paul II, 1989).
What about the Vatican's leading exorcist?
I have gotten this one a lot strangely enough. I found it quite odd that he was quoted condemning yoga and Harry Potter in the same article. Personally through much struggle I have not found anything that actually had the exorcist saying these statements, but there are many articles referencing this. As stated best by Professor Francis X. Clooney, "if one is a professional exorcist, one may indeed see everything in light of that profession, and so it is not surprising that Fr. Amorth sees the devil at work everywhere" (Clooney, 2011).
I think I want to start practicing yoga...where do I start?
First and foremost, begin with a deeply rooted faith foundation. Yoga teachers will usually invite their students to set an intention. Your intention for every yoga class must concern one of the five forms of prayer. Second, find a yoga teacher/studio/website that respects your faith and does not make you feel uncomfortable. Do your research! You may find a list of christian yoga teachers on christianspracticingyoga.com. Finally, relax and have fun!