Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here
Start your mornings with the good, the beautiful, the true... Subscribe to Aleteia's free newsletter!
Sign me up!

Not Prepared to Donate?

Here are 5 ways you can still help Aleteia:

  1. Pray for our team and the success of our mission
  2. Talk about Aleteia in your parish
  3. Share Aleteia content with friends and family
  4. Turn off your ad blockers when you visit
  5. Subscribe to our free newsletter and read us daily
Thank you!
Team Aleteia

Subscribe

Aleteia

Can yoga help us to pray better?

YOGA
4 PM production | Shutterstock
Share

Some Christians think that yoga can help them grow spiritually. But is it possible to combine yoga and the Christian faith?

Eastern meditation techniques are seductive. They offer a powerful way to withdraw from the fickle and changeable  world to recenter ourselves on our interior life—something we all yearn for. I know because I myself practiced these techniques for several years.

It starts out the same as with Christian prayer: there’s a desire to break with a superficial, scattered, and disillusioned life and find peace and meaning. In both cases, there’s a great desire for the Absolute. But right at the beginning of that interior journey, the routes diverge. In Eastern techniques, it’s all about retreating more and more into oneself, through one’s own efforts, until a sort of fusion with All is felt. In this practice, there’s no room for “the other.” You are more and more centered on yourself and you alone. With Christian prayer it is the opposite: the goal is an encounter with the Other, with God who comes to us.

A serious risk for confusion

That’s the big difference between a natural mysticism, which relies solely on natural means and leaves us alone with ourselves, and a supernatural mysticism that turns me to a personal God, who offers Himself to me in a dialogue of love. In Eastern techniques,  I am the master of my interior life, while in Christian prayer, it is God. What’s more, Eastern techniques aim at the absorption of the “I” into the great All, while a relationship with Christ respects my otherness: Christian prayer is a communion, not a fusion.

Of course, techniques that arise from a natural mysticism—such as Eastern meditation techniques—can lead to very powerful experiences. But that has nothing to do with the supernatural peace of the Holy Spirit. There is a great risk of confusing the serenity born of some breathing exercises or certain postures with the real presence of the Holy Spirit. It’s a risk to take seriously for it can lead to a dead end and distance us from the goal of a personal encounter with the living God that reveals Jesus Christ to us. 

Father Joseph-Marie Verlinde

Read more: 5 Alternatives to yoga that Catholics can try

Read more: How to pray while you exercise

Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.
Aleteia offers you this space to comment on articles. This space should always reflect Aleteia values.
[See Comment Policy]
Readers like you contribute to Aleteia's Mission.

Since our inception in 2012, Aleteia’s readership has grown rapidly worldwide. Our team is committed to a mission of providing articles that enrich, inspire and inform a Catholic life. That's why we want our articles to be freely accessible to everyone, but we need your help to do that. Quality journalism has a cost (more than selling ads on Aleteia can cover). That's why readers like you make a major difference by donating as little as $3 a month.