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Frequently Asked Questions 

I think I want to start practicing yoga…where do I start?

First and foremost, begin with an open heart. Yoga teachers will usually invite their students to set an intention. For example, your intention for every yoga class can be one of the five forms of prayer. Do your teacher research! You can learn more about starting a yoga practice here. Finally, relax and have fun!

Is it ok to practice yoga for theological benefits?

Yes, your purpose and intent for yoga practice can be to honor God. Yoga is not a religion, but it was used historically as a South Asian spiritual practice. In short, the theological objective of yoga must be to glorify the Holy Trinity.

Didn’t Pope Francis say that Catholics can’t do yoga?

If you are referring to Pope Francis’s homily in 2016, then no. He was merely saying that the only thing that can truly lead us to accepting God is the Holy Spirit. If he was truly condemning yoga, then he would have also condemned catechismal courses which is stated at the beginning of the statement.

Ok, what about Pope John Paul II?

Nope, he didn't. In the Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation, he educates those who read the letter on the Christian stance which is that eastern methods should not "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" (John Paul II, 1989).

What about the Vatican’s leading exorcist?

I have gotten this one a lot strangely enough. I found it quite odd that he was quoted condemning yoga and Harry Potter in the same article. Personally through much struggle I have not found anything that actually had the exorcist saying these statements, but there are many articles referencing this. As stated best by Professor Francis X. Clooney, “if one is a professional exorcist, one may indeed see everything in light of that profession, and so it is not surprising that Fr. Amorth sees the devil at work everywhere” (Clooney, 2011).

How can I avoid appropriating yoga? 

This is an important and tricky question. The most important action you can take is honoring the roots of yoga. Take time to learn from and pay South Asian yoga practitioners who teach yoga and its history like Tejal Patel and Jesal Parikh from the "Yoga is Dead" podcast. For more resources, check out this blog post.

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