Is Yoga Really Just Stretching?

Have you ever noticed when doing your examination of conscience, whether at the end of your day or before you go to confession, that there are questions about yoga? On certain versions of the examination of conscience, there are guided questions regarding the practice of cult or pagan religions and yoga is sometimes explicitly referred to. But why? Isn’t yoga just a different form of stretching? Isn’t yoga just another version of Pilates?

That seems to be the general idea that people have on yoga, but it goes much deeper. Recently on Trending with Timmerie, Timmerie took a deep dive into yoga, discussed the pagan roots and ideas behind its practice, and emphasized the reasons why Catholics should stay away from yoga as much as possible.

“It’s essentially a worship service,” began Timmerie. “It’s a form of Buddhist and Hindu prayer and worship.”

Sanskrit chants are often incorporated into the exercises and stretches of yoga, like om, namaste, asana, and shanti. Yoga itself is actually the Sanskrit word for the “divine union of mind, body, and spirit”.

While that all sounds good and well, the question is, who are we directing this divine chanting at? It’s certainly not Jesus Christ, the Son of God. If you’re practicing Hindu yoga, it’s most likely directed at a whole pantheon of gods as Hinduism is a polytheistic religion. If you’re practicing Buddhist yoga, you’re directing your chants, efforts, and energy at nothing in particular. Buddhists are fairly explicit about rejecting the idea of a God and focusing more on the universe. Buddhism is a unique and nebulous form of agnosticism or atheism.

Buddhism focuses heavily on meditation to develop one’s self and one’s habits of well-being. Through yoga, you’re supposed to stretch your body and find a sort of spiritual peace that gives you the ability to practice things like kindness, self-control, and generosity. In theory, this sounds like a positive practice, but it’s ultimately a distorted form of meditation.

While yoga tells its practitioners to focus on themselves and what they are lacking or wanting, Christian and Catholic meditation and prayer are focused on God. God is the only one capable of helping us master these virtues. It takes more than a little stretching and sweating. It takes faith, humility, and submission to the divine will of the Lord.

“Why would we participate in a pagan ritual? Is it just meditation? Or is it meditation and prayer? Well, what yoga is is meditation in a form of Buddhist or Hindu prayer. Stretching is great, but yoga, per its definition, is much different from what we commonly think it is.”

It’s not as if Buddhist yogis have been hiding this from us. Its pagan tenants and goals are laid out right in front of us. What’s the goal of yoga? To attain nirvana. Nirvana is this idea of ultimate finality in which you become completely enlightened, and through your own power no less. In other words, you have become your own god through your full detachment from reality. The Buddhist version of heaven is nothingness.

“There’s no sense of transcendence. There’s no sense of union with God or others,” said Timmerie. “It’s just this idea that there’s nothing. There’s no sense of self. There’s no suffering. There’s no desire. There’s a sense of absolute nothingness.”

So, what are Christians and Catholics chasing in yoga? The vast majority see yoga merely as an opportunity to exercise, get a good sweat in, and meditate, not realizing that they’re participating in a pagan ritual. Meditation and mental prayer aren’t talked about enough in the Christian world and so people look elsewhere for answers. Mental prayer should be a habitual practice of anybody seeking to cultivate a vibrant relationship with God and become more self-aware. You don’t have to pick up yoga to do it.

Tune in to Trending with Timmerie weekdays at 6pm CT

John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.