The Truth About Yoga

A few years ago, I was at a healing retreat that was being run by a Catholic exorcist priest.

At the retreat, the priest reaffirmed what we say every mass in the Apostles’ Creed; that the Catholic faith is the one true Apostolic Faith. This means that as Catholics, we believe that our faith is the only true faith. Knowing this, the devil looks for access points to enter into the lives of the followers of Christ, as an attempt to lead them away from the Truth, even if it is a little bit.

Along with experiencing a lot of healing at this retreat, I also learned a lot. This priest, a very loving man, shared with all the participants what he had experienced as an exorcist. He then, very strongly recommended, that Catholics avoid participating in any activities or owning any items (such as crystals, Buddha or Hindu statues, cleansing sage, ouija boards, etc.) that could open up potential entry points for the evil one.

Before I continue, we must recognize the reality of the spiritual realm. Both good and bad exist in this world and there is a spiritual battle ongoing here on earth. Ephesians 6:12, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Let us also recognize that we are whole beings: body, mind, and soul. Our bodies house our souls, our minds dictate our actions and thoughts, and our souls are the eternal aspect of our being. Each affects the whole. In knowing this, one can conclude that whatever the mind and body does will affect the soul; there can be no separation of the three — not in this life.

When it comes to yoga, there are many opinions regarding whether Catholics should participate or not. Today, I wanted to share why I believe Catholics should avoid it.

Yoga stems from the ‘Vedas’, an ancient Indian holy text from which Buddhism, Hindiusm, and Jaidism come from. The original purpose of yoga was to give people a spiritual practise in which they could achieve enlightenment, self-awareness, and higher consciousness. It was to open up an individual to a ‘greater purpose’, one in which they can reach the total sense of being enlightened. Yoga has been defined as meaning ’union’. Its goal is to calm the mind, which in turn will calm the body and soul (as again, they are all connected). (Information from YogaSix.com cited in link below).

Yoga gets more complicated, with various forms, techniques, methods, and interpretations shared by many, however what is noteworthy is that all can agree that it is a combination of meditation and physical movement. I used to practise yoga for several years and recall the instructor, who was very calming and peaceful, helping me overcome physical barriers through meditation. I personally thought it was the best thing ever - I mean, what’s there not to love about that, right?

The trouble with this is two-fold:

When it comes to meditating in yoga, people are encouraged to clear their mind, use breathing techniques, and open themselves up to a higher purpose. The goal is to achieve calmness of mind, which in turn brings calmness of spirit. This ‘openness of spirit’ can lead us to opening ourselves up to a false spirit. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church: While Christianity stresses the importance of detachment from all that separates the believer from union with God (cf. CCC 2556), the purpose of detachment is relational. It brings us into communion with the Triune God and with the saints in glory. The union is forged by love, which gives and receives—not drowned into an impersonal divine but freely shared between the Persons of God and the persons of his saints. “‘I want to see God’ expresses the true desire of man. Thirst for God is quenched by the water of eternal life” (CCC 2557).

Some will say, “Well, I only do it for the stretches so it’s okay.”

When it comes to the physical aspect, what many don’t realize is that every single position has a prayerful significance. Yogis express that there are certain poses that help align our ‘chakras’, while others express that many of the postures have a meaning that goes beyond simple strengthening and lengthening of muscles. I will be including a link at the bottom in which you can read more about what each pose means (Livestrong.com). A former yoga teacher revealed that these are postures that are offered to the 330 million Hindu gods. Yoga postures, in their true purpose and meaning, are offerings to the gods. (From CBN. Link below).

The first commandment tells us, "I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods before me." If we spend an hour in yoga, (knowingly or not) worshipping other gods, then to later dedicate only five minutes in prayer to God, can our relationship truly be strengthened with Him? Or may we consider that we run the risk of putting other gods before Him?

If we are to go back to the earlier point in which we recognize, accept, and respect the fact that we have the one true Apostolic Faith, we must also be vigilant of any ‘entry points’ for the evil one.

After practising yoga for years, looking back I realize how much it actually impacted my spirituality and faith in a negative way. I had a much harder time accepting the truths of the Church and I also don’t think I fully and truly believed that this, in fact, was the one true faith. A part of me believed that there was an ounce of truth in each religion, which ultimately is not true. Christ says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one gets to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Read that again, but slowly. Jesus tells us this Himself.

There is so much that can be said on this topic, and I know each person has their own thoughts regarding yoga. That being said, if there is even a 1% risk that we are allowing for an evil spirit to enter into our lives because of our openness to activities that stem from a spirituality that worships other gods, then the risk is not worth it. We must protect our mind, body, and spirit in all we do (this also applies to the kind of music, movies, and books we indulge in). We will all one day stand before God and we must be ready to answer to Him in which ways we jumped at the opportunity to be closer to Him, instead of participating in what, could potentially, be destructive to our souls and relationship with Him in the longterm.

The good news is that there are many wonderful alternatives to exercise, with pilates being one of them. Pilates incorporates many wonderful stretches without any spiritual meaning and without incorporating the meditative and spiritual practices of the Buddhist and Hindu religions.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Leave your comments below!

Citations: “Spiritual Meanings of Yoga Postures” https://www.livestrong.com/article/395082-spiritual-meanings-of-yoga-postures/

“The History of Yoga” https://yogasix.com/history-of-yoga

"Should Christians do Yoga" https://www1.cbn.com/health/should-christians-do-yoga

More reading: https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/the-trouble-with-yoga

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