Opus Sanctorum Angelorum, (OSA) founded by Father William Wagner and under the direction of the Order of the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross, say yoga is part of the Hindu religion and any claims that it can be used as physical exercise are misleading.
The organization, known as Opus Sanctorum Angelorum (the Work of the Holy Angels), is an international movement within the Catholic Church whose priests and religious are dedicated to leading the faithful into a more conscious collaboration with the holy angels in daily life through retreats and missions.
The organization’s website has a page dedicated to answering the most frequently asked questions, one of which is about yoga: “Is it possible or advisable for a Catholic to practice yoga, even if it is done only for the purpose of physical exercise?”
The site’s response says that the popularization of yoga as merely a method of physical exercise is altogether misleading.
“First of all, we must be aware of the fact that yoga is a part of the Hindu religion. It is not merely a method of physical exercise, or a system of stretching techniques. In fact, the word ‘yoga’ itself means ‘union with god,’ or ‘yoke with god.’ The god of yoga, however, is not the God of the Trinity, but rather an impersonal life force that is believed to be the source that energizes the universe.
“For this reason, there is much more to yoga than just postures and stretching exercises. For the postures that make up part of the yoga program are actually expressions of adoration and veneration of the various gods in the Hindu pantheon.”
It goes on to cite Archbishop Rivera of Mexico City in his Pastoral Instruction on New Age where he writes: “Yoga is essentially a spiritual and bodily exercise that comes from Hindu spirituality. Its postures and exercises, though presented only as a method, are inseparable from their specific meaning within the context of Hinduism.”
What’s more, the Archbishop warns that even if these so called ‘exercises’ and postures are carried out in a Christian setting, the intrinsic meaning of these gestures remains intact.
“In short, yoga postures have both occult and psycho-somatic meanings and significance,” OSA continues. “They are, in effect, expressions of adoration and veneration to some of the various Hindu gods. To realize the inherent danger involved in practicing yoga, then, we must realize that the so called ‘gods’ of the Hindu religion are nothing more than devils in disguise who are seeking to be worshiped. And so, persons who practice yoga exercises—whether they realize it or not—are, in effect, rendering worship to the devil in one of his disguises, when they assume a yoga posture.
As we know, this would be a sin against the First Commandment if the person intended to worship these gods. But even if the person did not, this is not the only potential for sin in the practice of yoga. Because yoga is universally associated with the practice of Hinduism, if one openly practices yoga in spite of these warnings, even just for exercise, and it leads someone to believe it’s okay for a Catholic to practice Hinduism, they would be committing the sin of scandal.
To practice yoga as exercise without the intent of worshiping other gods is also no guarantee that you will be safe from the encroachment of evil entities. For example, if you are not in a state of grace and you are practicing yoga in a class where people ARE worshiping these gods, you are in as much danger of infiltration by an evil spirit as the person who is calling upon it.
This is why authorities such as the OSA warn that “the performing of yoga exercises can open up a person to greater demonic attack, influence, and temptation.”
Because yoga is nothing more than another form of isometric exercise, we can only wonder why anyone would take these kinds of chances for the sake of a good workout.