Yoga Stretch

I am no expert on yoga.  But I know that some people think it’s focus is Hindu spirituality that promotes pantheism, the belief that everything is God and God is everything (“pan” means all and “theos” means God).  For them, physical poses unite us with universal divine energy so that we become more closely one with all else.  For most people, however and certainly in America, yoga is about breathing and stretching in a way that unites the body with other aspects of our being and being part of God’s creation.  For them, it has nothing to do with pantheism but the channeling of energy to create greater interior and exterior awareness. 

A similar word and concept, panentheism (God in all things), is a common Christian concept promoted by many saints.  It begins with the idea that God is in us, as Jesus made clear: “I am in you, you are in me, I am in the Father, the Father and I are one, I am the vine, and you are the branches.”  That reality was present when God formed the first human and breathed into him.  That life-breath (ruach) keeps us united to the divine much as yoga, centering prayer, and other spiritual exercises calls us to breathe with our Creator.  The most revered Jewish name for God (YH-WH) is unpronounceable because it is more about breathing than saying a name—though we sometimes say “Yahweh” or “Yehovah”.  The first syllable is essentially a deep and conscientious breath inhaled while the second is the exhale.  To breathe is to unite ourselves with the One who breathes life into us.  When Jesus rose from the dead, His first act was to breathe upon the disciples, giving them new life and oneness with God, to make all things new.

Some who oppose Christians doing yoga might think this is a stretch.  But that is what Christian spirituality calls us to do—stretch our minds, hearts, bodies, our entire being so that we become more “one” in our creation and gain greater unity with God.  That unity is given to us in the Holy Spirit, the divine energy, the fire of God’s love, the promise of Christ that was widely and wildly gifted to the world on Pentecost.  “Catholic” means universal; the primary mantra of yoga (om, ohm, or aum) means universal oneness.  It seeks to connect each body with the universal body, original breath, and basic vibration of all creation.  Numerous medical professionals claim that praying a decade of the rosary or offering a mantra can put our heart rate, pulse, and breathing in union with its preferred vibrational life-force (and life-source).  As creatures of the Creator, we desire to be one with all that is created.  As Catholics, we desire to be the one body of Christ; meditative or contemplative prayer can assist us.

As many saints and holy ones remind us, the more we know God the more we know we don’t know God.  Spiritual exercises that stretch us also help us to exist in the immensity of the mystery of the unknown and draw closer to our unknowable God, of which we are part.  Though I have been wrong about many things, it is my opinion that yoga and other spiritual exercises that center us and unite us with the very breath of our creation can help us to better comprehend the incomprehensible message of Jesus, unite our human spirit and energy with the divine energy of the Holy Spirit, and be one with our Creator.

14 thoughts on “Yoga Stretch

  1. Thank you for this reasonable and uplifting explanation of yoga, a practice Bill and I have found life giving for many years! Jody


  2. I’m stretching for joy after reading this truthful blog. Thank you for this spiritual common-sense message. I’m not sure why yoga has been considered a forbidden practice. I’ve found spirituality, meditation, and millions of said Hail Mary’s while in a yoga pose or yoga retreat. For over 25 years, the practice of yoga has helped me with my joy. I feel so close to God when holding a pose or stretching for myself. I have deep gratitude for God leading me into the practice of yoga.


  3. Thank you so much for your posts, especially this one. After being bed ridden with back problems after the delivery my wonderful 9 pound 3 ounce daughter my neighbor told me about a yoga class and I have been going since then- my daughter is 40!!! I call it praying with your whole body – again thank you for all of your messaging. It is a much need window into what I call the real Catholic Religion. Amen, Patty McMahon



  4. Hi, Father Don! I read every blog you send out! I especially love this one on Yoga Stretch(well I love them all!) because daughter Maris (now almost 42) spent 2 years studying Yoga to be a certified Yoga instructor and holds several classes each week while also getting her Masters in Family Therapy at Kansas State -they live just a few blocks from there! She is the wife of a Pastor (Ben Deaver) si has many duties there also. The Christian aspect of Yoga which you described so very beautifully is what keeps her going. I forwarded your Yoga blog to both Maris and Ben (which I often do) as I know they will appreciate your words ver much! Thank you for being such a great servant of our Lord (and so glad you live si close now!). God bless you always! Maris Haster


  5. Thank you. Right on and so needed across our diverse experiences and perspectives. We have so much more in common than we have differences – as I read the Gospel, our “job” is to find and encourage our common ground. Jesus dined with tax-collectors, and engaged with Roman soldiers and Pharisees who recognized children and the New Wine.


  6. As a Yoga practitioner & therapeutic Yoga Instructor of 18 years & lifetime follower of Christ, I can say for certain my authentic yoga practice has drawn me closer to God and deepened my faith. The breath
    ( Spiritus) is the central core of an authentic Yoga practice, not movement. Movement without breath is simply exercise.


  7. Beautifully said. Thank you. Yoga is a life long practice benefitting everyone for so many different reasons. Learn young and keep practicing.


  8. Thank you Father Don! Your post is reassuring. I fell into Yoga several years ago for the physical benefits; little did I know that I would reap so much more spiritually than I could ever imagine. Learning to focus on the breath has allowed me to feel closer to God, deepened my faith, and gives me an opportunity to share how rewarding this relationship with our Creator can be with others. I was recently told that you cannot be Christian and practice yoga together. I’ve been wrestling with that internally and your thoughts helped affirm my feelings in a positive way. Thanks again! I appreciate you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.