I’m Catholic. What About Yoga?

I have a secret. I have a few secrets. One is that I commit to a daily yoga practice. For 10-15 minutes, I turn on my laptop, and fire up a quick video online.

I am also Catholic. I pray my rosary every day, read scripture whether it’s a Proverb a day, or suggested devotional reading. I go to mass every Sunday, and holy day of obligation. When I didn’t have two dogs and the kids were in school, I went to daily mass and weekly adoration.

 

Yet. I still practice Yoga every day. I was reading an article that came in my Young Living monthly wellness box, titled “Yoga The Young Living Way”. As I was reading how to use Frankincense, or Myrrh for standing poses, as these oils are grounding, it hit me. Should I write about this? The answer from a friend was “You’ll get a lot of comments”. I took that as a yes.

According to Catholic Digest:

People who don’t know the difference between Catholic belief and this kind of nonsense easily wander off, from the former to the latter.

And I think this also shows the Church’s concern about yoga: it’s not the stretches and poses that the Church is worried about, it’s some of the Eastern mysticism that underlies them and is often taught with them.

I get that. I get the concern. I get it so much that people have unfriended me on Facebook over it. Really. I even tried to share this link on Ignatian Yoga. Surely, that wouldn’t set anyone’s alarms off. No such luck. I still hesitate to mention that I am about to practice yoga to my Catholic friends, because I don’t want to see yet another eye roll.

I don’t practice yoga for the spirituality. I am a Catholic for that. I practice yoga to see how far I can push my body in a way that is different, and not aggressive. I go to mass to be lifted up in prayer. To be connected to Our Lord, and my brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. I practice yoga because I like to feel strong and flexible in my body. The deep breathing helps with my emotions, just like passing the rosary beads between my fingers each morning.

I am a firm believer in The Trinity, the Eucharist, the Communion of Saints, the whole (vegan) enchilada. Any spirituality or words chanted during class, means I haven’t found the right class. I have had teachers that don’t push the spiritual side of yoga because they know it’s not every one’s cup of tea. I just breathe deeply and say a few mental Hail Mary’s until the chant is over. The thing about yoga is, you can participate as much or as little as you want to. Nothing is supposed to be perfect, and you go at your own pace.

I’m not saying that those that practice yoga for both the health benefits and it’s spiritual benefits are horrible people going to hell. Not at all. I’m talking about what I glean, and how I practice, which is always going to be different for every one.

If you feel iffy about practicing yoga as a Catholic, try SoulCore.

The workout involves a combination of core-strengthening and isometric exercises, stretching and overall strengthening of the entire body…and recite the Apostle’s Creed.  Push-ups are done throughout each of the Our Father’s.  The movements vary for each of the Hail Mary’s.  And a stretching position of surrender brings us to each Glory Be.  Each Mystery begins with a scripture verse and a reflection, offering a time of rest.

Or even Pietra Fitness.

[We] utilize physical exercise to promote core strength as a solid physical foundation for the rest of the body.  For the soul, our workouts include prayer and meditations built upon the strongest of foundations: the rock of Christ and His Church.  This powerful combination truly benefits the entire human person – restoring harmony and wholeness to both body and soul.

Although, I agree with Heidi of National Catholic Register who writes:

Some have attempted to “Christianize” yoga — but again that comes from a perspective that sees “regular” yoga as dangerous to their faith lives.

Before you freak out on me. Let me follow that up with this: according to the Letter to the Bishops of The Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation (1989), Saint Pope John Paul II approved the following statement which sums up how I feel about practicing yoga as a Catholic:

The majority of the great religions which have sought union with God in prayer have also pointed out ways to achieve it. Just as “the Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions,” neither should these ways 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.

Bolded for emphasis. So I’ll keep working my Downward Facing Dog, with my pups after I pray the rosary, thank you very much.

If you would like to read up on this issue a little more, here are some posts I found (there were SO many!)

Pope Francis Says Yoga Doesn’t Lead Us to God

Yoga Makes Me a Better Catholic

Can Catholics Do Yoga?

I would love to hear your take on this issue. Share in the comments below. Only please don’t tell me I’m going to hell, or I am opening a door to evil spirits. The only door I’m opening is the one to the pantry because after prayer, and yoga, it’s usually time for breakfast.

Never miss a thing, follow me @thetrinidadclan

P.S. Yes, those are my feet up there. See?

What About Yoga- by Cristina Trinidad of The Trinidad Clan

15 thoughts on “I’m Catholic. What About Yoga?

  1. Cristina, are we the same person?? Seriously, if I don’t meet you in this lifetime, I’m gonna get cranky. I am a Catholic (although I go to a non-denominational church now) and an incredibly strong Christian and took a hiatus from yoga for the following reasons:
    1. Before I committed my life to Christ, I was battling depression, sleep paralysis, night terrors and astral projection (I was going through some serious shiznit) that I feel were all related to demonic activity due to my pushing God out of my life. I was also heavily into yoga and doing it for the spiritual benefits, not just the physical. After committing my life to Christ, I immediately stopped suffering from the above craziness and stopped practicing yoga so I wouldn’t accidentally venture down that path again.
    2. Everything I read that was in any way Christian-related told me yoga was a no-no.
    So why did I start practicing again? Because, much like you, I enjoyed the physical benefits of yoga and had grown so strong in my faith in Jesus, I knew there was no way I’d be persuaded to leave God’s side again. It wasn’t until we were reviewing 1 Corinthians that I realized yoga was a lot like the “sacrificial meat” issue that the early Christians were dealing with. Followers in the early church were wondering if it was sinful for Christians to eat meat that was sacrificed to the gods. Here is what Paul says:
    1. No, it’s not sinful as long as the Christian has a truly strong faith in Christ and is merely filling his belly. To insinuate eating the meat is sinful is to insinuate that we believe those gods exist which would therefore mean the meat is a no-no. And obviously, we don’t believe that.
    2. Should we promote eating sacrificial meat to non-Christians or those not as strong in their faith yet? Nope! We can eat the meat all we want but shouldn’t advise others to do the same because they may start venturing down the road of worshipping the gods, not having the same relationship with God we do. Ultimately, we live to love others, and if we mislead them, even unintentionally, we aren’t loving them and doing all we can to bring them closer to God.
    I find yoga to be our “sacrificial meat.” We don’t believe in the Hindu gods, so for us, yoga is a fun stretching exercise and nothing more. But if we’re constantly vocal about it and teaching novice Christians that it’s all good in the hood, then we run the risk of changing a person’s heart.
    Make sense? Or do I sound like a crazy person? Hashtag wouldn’t be the first time. 😊

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  2. Hi Cristina,

    I love the fact that you are searching and questioning. As a Catholic, I also used to practice yoga until I watched a 4 hrs testimony of Father Verlinde on the topic of Eastern meditation, yoga and the occult, which stopped me short. Here’s a link to one of his videos on youtube to start your research:

    Yoga has the very specific goal of opening our chakras so that we can become mediums to the spiritual world (a channel for both the good and the bad over which we have no control). This happens no matter whether we are amateurs with good intentions like you and I or Hindus who precisely desire to achieve this effect as part of their religious experience. Fr. Verlinde teaches us that there is no such a thing as ”safe” yoga for Christians. Those are not just benign stretch exercises as the many yoga studios want to make us believe. Our chakras will open gradually whether we want it or not.

    I have switched to regular stretching, weight training and kettlebells instead and can not be happier. Good luck on your path 🙂

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    • Hi there! Thanks for commenting. Yoga’s goal is not to open the chakras do that we can become mediums to the spiritual world. If you believe you have chakras that will open gradually whether you want them to or not, isn’t that belief in and of itself not Christian?

      I’m happy with the research I’ve done and the letters from the Vatican I’ve read. Thanks again for weighing in. I appreciate the candor and concern.

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      • This is what I have learned from father Verlinde. Just because some notions such as chacras or becoming a medium are not explored by Christianity, it does not mean that they do not exist or are not real. As father Verlinde explains, the experience of nirvana can be achieved with proper training. However, this is not the path that we want to follow as Christians and is not part of our spiritual traditions. I appreciate that you take the time to reflect on this topic and wish you all the best.

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      • I understand what you’re saying, however, if Saint Pope John Paul II didn’t express it, I’m inclined to go with him, being infallible and a Pope, and a Saint. Thank you so much for continuing to dialog with me and I pray you will ponder the words of our Holy Father here on earth.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Cristina,
    I also am a practicing Catholic and do yoga at my local gym 1-2 times a week. In my gym, no teacher pushes the spiritual side. In fact, they talk mainly about calming the mind and being at peace with our bodies and what we are capable of. At Christmas time, one of the instructors actually played catholic hymns during shivasana. I usually end up praying during this time.
    I don’t ever feel like my Catholic faith is being threatened. My body and mind feels great afterwards. Yoga has strengthened my body tremendously and is easy on my joints, which I have reoccurring pain in.
    This Catholic will not give you an eye roll! Love the article!

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    • Thanks for reading, Melanie. How interesting that Catholic hymns were played during corpse pose!!

      I don’t usually pray during this time, but try to get my brain to SLOW down. Frankincense helps that too, so I’m never without it during class. Thanks for not giving me an eye roll!!!

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  4. I absolutely think you can practice yoga as a secular stretching workout. That’s the way I’ve always seen it. There is zero spiritual tie-in for me, I think it’s a great workout for both mind and body! As a side note, you have me really coveting that Bible study listed on your sidebar. :0

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  5. This is AWESOME! I have never really tried yoga before(running is more my jam.com) I get frustrated sometimes when people are automatically turned off or assume a faithful Catholic might not find other benefits from yoga, like health and wellness. Well said! Here here!

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  6. I love this. I was thinking about yoga and my faith the other day, since I’m such a newbie Catholic. I’ve been going yoga longer than I’ve been a Catholic, and it really helped eased my mind and anxiety so that I could start on the path to hearing God’s call to me. So I don’t think it’s necessarily bad. But I still sometimes worry. I will definitely be reading the articles you suggested, and giving this some more thought myself. 🙂

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