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Increasingly popularized in the West over the last 50 years, Yoga has comfortably established itself in fitness centers, dance studios, school classrooms, hospitals, and business institutions. It has also made major inroads into Catholic parishes and retreat centers.
The word "yoga" means "path, union with god or yoke with god." It encompasses a broad range of Hindu techniques and practices used to gain liberation from the self so as to attain god-consciousness, the realization of our own divinity. One dictionary states that yoga "is a system of Hindu philosophy, a strict spiritual discipline practiced to gain control over the forces of one's being to gain occult powers but chiefly to attain union with the universal spirit."
Is yoga consistent with a Christian worldview? Can the exercise of Hatha yoga be extricated from its philosophical underpinnings? What guidance does the Church give us?