Can Catholics do yoga

Are Christians Allowed to Practice Yoga?


PaytonvanGorp / gettyimagesYoga is a popular sport

Yoga training is offered on every corner in major cities. But are the Indian stretching and breathing exercises also suitable for Christians without reference to Hinduism?

24.06.2019evb article: Download PDFPrintShareFeedback

Author: Erika von Bassewitz

Category:, News, Health, _Newsletter

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Keywords: YogaIndiaHinduism

Yoga is becoming increasingly popular in Western culture. Fitness studios, sports clubs and adult education centers, yoga is offered on every corner. Even in parishes, yoga is often offered. The Hindu American Foundation, or HAF for short, clearly referred to the Hindu roots of physical exercise and that it was a form of physical prayer. And when you see the sunken Buddha and the incense cones in the yoga studio, the question arises whether you are crossing the line between religions.

"Yoga is an exercise that does not belong to any religion," says Christine Weil, yoga teacher and spiritual guide in Mainz-Finthen. "It helps with stress to slow down and come to rest." Yoga is a way of exercising body, breath and mind. You start with the body, connect it with the breath and then come to the mind. “Yoga belongs to all people, Christians, Muslims and atheists alike. Everyone is allowed to live their own idea of ​​God. "

Christians do not seek salvation

The native Indian and PhD theologian Johny Thonipara also sees it relaxed: “Yoga in the West is a pure wellness and cosmetic thing.” In India, Hindu yoga aims at unity with the absolute, at breaking out of the eternal circle of rebirths . “As Atman, I am one with Brahman and have attained my salvation. There is nothing left. "

Salvation in this sense is not the goal of Christians in yoga, because Jesus is the Redeemer. The goal of Christians is simply to create a condition for meditation and to experience silence. He would also sing along with the phonetic syllable "OM" that is often sung in yoga. “One can see the 'OM' as the original word of God like at the beginning of the Gospel of John. It stands for peace. ”And that can be interpreted in a Christian way. Parallels to the basic principle of the Hindu Brahman, the divine in creation, can be found in the Bible in the Gospel of John. It says something like: “Remain in me and I in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself if it does not abide on the vine, so neither you, if you do not abide by me. ”(John 15: 4)

Practice yoga without a guru

In order to slip into Hindu philosophy, it would take a guru to guide the practice and to be revered accordingly. "For me, my guru is Jesus," explains the pastor and advisor for development and partnership with Asia from the EKHN and EKKW Ecumenical Center.

“I was once in an asram where a name was sung all the time. I also practice such mantras, but with the name of Jesus. ”In the Eastern Christian tradition this is common practice. The yoga teacher Weil also advises using the yoga technique to direct one's thoughts to the Christian God. "You can have spiritual experiences through yoga, it is not a pure sports program."

Yoga teacher Weil, who is also trained as an instructor in Christian meditation, explains that, for example, you could say "Je" with every inhalation and "sus" with every exhalation. Or when breathing in “Lord Jesus Christ” and when breathing out “have mercy on me”.

“I think we can learn a lot from the Hindus too,” says the Indian Thonipara, although he knows that many Indian Christians would disagree. “Check everything and keep what is good, as it says in the letter to the Thessalonians. Yoga is Hindu and we take elements from it. "