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Yoga - Catholic Reviews

There are many different ways to achieve enlightenment within the New Age movement. One method that combines physical exercise, mantras, and meditation is called yoga. In this highly acclaimed form of self-discipline, the practitioner seeks to yoke himself to God by practicing the following eight stages of self-purification:

Stage 1–2

In the first two stages of yoga the practitioner takes moral and ethical steps to prepare himself for God-consciousness. These stages can include fasting, moral living, sexual abstinence, and meditation.

Stage 3–4

In the next stages of yoga, the practitioner performs physical exercises, stretches, and body postures while practicing breathing techniques and chanting mantras.

Stage 5

In the fifth stage the practitioner attempts to withdraw his senses.

Stage 6–8

In the last three stages the practitioner becomes more involved with deeper forms of meditation in an attempt to complete the final stage which is God-consciousness. In the final stage, the meditator and the objects of meditation become one.

There are many different styles of yoga, and each practice encourages a different path to liberation and enlightenment. The most popular form in India is called Dhakti. Another form called Hatha, places more emphasis on the "energy flow" that the participants invite into their bodies. Tantra yoga centers on the worship of the Hindu supreme goddess called Shakti. This deity is worshiped as the divine mother who calls for absolute surrender.

Those who practice and promote yoga claim that the supernatural energies that are released to flow inside of a person's body have remarkable healing and life-changing properties. The benefits of yoga include better balance, a more active sex life, an increased ability to focus, a deeper sense of relaxation, more flexible joints, and overall improved health.

The problem with yoga comes from the meditations and mantras that are used to invite spiritual energy into a person's body. Many of the mantras used in yoga invoke the names of foreign gods and goddesses asking them to send forth different types of spiritual energy. One yoga website offers a list of mantras along with their English translations as follows:

Guru Guru Wahe Guru, Guru Ram Das Guru.
By chanting this mantra, the practitioner is calling upon a spiritual entity named Guru Ram Das, asking for spiritual guiding light and protective grace.1

Prana, Apana, Sushumna. Hari.
Hari Har, Hari Har, Hari Har, Hari.
When a practitioner chants this mantra, he is calling upon three different spiritual entities to draw energy up from the spine for healing. Prana in the god of life force, Apana is the god of eliminating force, and Sushumna is the central channel for that force.2

On another yoga website the practitioner is advised to bow down to the thousand-year-old tradition and say a prayer to a god called Patanjali—because he is the one who is the most important guide for the path of yoga. The mantra that is used along with its English translation reads as follows:

Om
vande gurunam caranaravinde
sandarshita svatma sukha va bodhe
nih sreyase jangalika yamane
samsara halahala mohasahantyai

abahu purushakaram
shankacakrasi dharinam
sahasra shirasam svetam
pranamami Patanjalim
Om

I pray to the lotus feet of the supreme Guru
who teaches the good knowledge, showing the way
to knowing the self-awakening great happiness;
who is the doctor of the jungle, able to remove the poison
of the ignorance of conditioned existence.

To Patanjali, an incarnation of Adisesa,
white in color with 1000 radiant heads,
human in form below the shoulders
holding a sword, a wheel of fire, and a conch
— to him, I prostrate.3

Although Catholics are encouraged to respect their physical bodies by performing daily exercise and maintaining a healthy diet, they are not allowed to chant the names of foreign gods, or to invite demonic healing energies into their bodies.

 

Scripture Passages to Set the Captives Free
 

"Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple."
— 1 Corinthians 3:16–17

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body."
— 1 Corinthians 6:19–20

"What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, 'I will live in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean; then I will welcome you, and I will be your Father, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.'"
— 2 Corinthians 6:16–18

 

Yoga - All Saints Catholic Church

 

Notes

The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition copyright © 1993 and 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

  1. Kundalini Yoga Popular Mantras: http://www.kundal iniyog a.org/mantra.html
  2. Kundalini Yoga Popular Mantras: http://www.kundal iniyog a.org/mantra.html
  3. Ashtanga Yoga Mantra—for the beginning of Ashtanga Yoga practice: http://ashtangayoga.info/ashtanga-mantra/asht anga-yoga-mantra.html
  4. All Saints Catholic Church, "Yoga Lessons with Fr. Adam": http://www.allsaints.us/index.cfm?load=page&page=255