A Catholic church in South India is discouraging Christians from partaking in yoga. The Syro Malabar Church, located in Kerala at the Malabar Coast, has released a doctrine that states yoga does not ascribe to the teachings of the church.
Bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt prepared the report along with three church members, who cited yoga as a tool for health and fitness only. It shouldn't, however, be regarded as spiritually beneficial.
"The theology of yoga does not go along with the beliefs of Christianity. Yoga believes in oneness and cannot differentiate between creator and creation like in Christianity," the doctrine claimed. "There is nothing wrong in taking yoga as an exercise but it is not a way to get salvation or spiritual experience."
The Catholic Church group also cited Pope Francis' statements on yoga in the doctrine. In 2015, the pope said in a homily that yoga won't open one's heart to a path to God and it won't provide the person the spiritual answers he seeks.
The Indian church released its report after the Supreme Court of India last year blocked the government's plan to make yoga compulsory in all schools despite being mainly a Hindu practice. The doctrine also stressed that even Hindu leaders discourage yoga as a religious process to convert to Hinduism.
Yoga, which means "to unite" in Sanskrit, is an ancient practice among the Hindus and Buddhists from as far back as the fifth century BC. It aims to bring balance to the body and the mind through movements and breathing exercises or meditation. In the late 19th century, yoga gurus introduced the practice in Western cultures, which exploded in the 1980s as a fitness program.
Christian Today previously spoke with "Taboo or To Do" book authors Ross Clifford and Philip Johnson about yoga and Christianity. The writers said that discernment and some background checking are necessary if a Christian might want to get into yoga since there are different approaches to the practice, while some might have links to other controversial aspects of the Hindu faith.