Pietra Fitness is Not Yoga

Pietra Fitness believes that beneficial stretching and strengthening exercises can be separated from yoga and redeemed in Christ for use in a Christian exercise program.


What is Yoga

Yoga is the ancient Sanskrit term for the physical practice used to develop Hindu spiritual disciplines. In fact, the word yoga means yoke or spiritual union, indicating the innate spiritual nature of the practice.

Yoga teachings are thousands of years old and are detailed in the Vedas, sacred Hindu texts originating in ancient India.

These teachings include:

- Polytheism (worshiping many gods and goddesses)

- Monism (a belief that all things in the universe are one, without distinction)

- Reincarnation

- Karma

- Idol Worship

- One's own divine identity

These Practices Include

- Bodily purification techniques

- Deep meditation methods

- Dietary Guidelines

- Spiritual Teachings

- Philosophies


The History
of Poses

This history is very important because the use of various postures in gymnastics preceded their use in yoga, confirming that yoga does not “own” these movements and that they certainly can be used and applied outside of yoga.

Interestingly, though many aspects of yoga are undeniably ancient, an objective historical look at the modern postural practice (yoga for exercise) indicates that it is not ancient at all.


Spiritual Focus

Simply put, to practice “yoga” is to practice elements of Hinduism and/or New Age beliefs.

The movements themselves do not constitute yoga and should not be called yoga when used in isolation. When used in the context of yoga, however, other practices from Hinduism, Buddhism, or the New Age Movement are integrated into it.



Yoga uses various meditation techniques to draw students inward psychologically and emotionally.

These techniques may include chants, mantras, and Transcendental Meditation. The Transcendental Meditation technique is based on the ancient Vedic tradition of enlightenment in India. It is believed that, through yoga meditation, you can open the chakras that lead into yogic powers (siddhis).

According to traditional sources, the five siddhis of yoga and meditation are:

1. Knowing the past, present, and future

2. Tolerance of heat, cold, and other dualities

3. Knowing the minds of others, and so on

4. Checking the influence of fire, sun, water, poison, and so on

5. Remaining unconquered by others



If you have ever attended a yoga class, you have undoubtedly been exposed to one or more of the practices below. All yoga teachers are educated in these techniques, and their classes will certainly be influenced by such non-Christian eastern spirituality and New Age practices.

A mantra is a mystical formula of invocation or incantation. These incantations conflict with Christian teaching.

These mantras Include:

1. Aum/Om: “The syllable om, also known as aum and pranava, is the most sacred symbol of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism. It is used both as a symbol and as a sound in religious worship, ritual chanting, performance of sacraments and rituals, yoga, and tantra.

In Hinduism, it is venerated as Brāhman in the form of word (askshara) and sound (sabda).”⁶ In an article in Yoga Journal entitled ”Mastering the Om: A Guide for Beginners,” Yelena Moroz Alpert says, “Om is more than just an invitation to start your practice. It is said to be the primordial sound born with the universe. As we exhale the A-U-M, its vibration links us to the original source of creation.

When done properly, the sound reverberates from the pelvic floor upward through the crown of the head, filling the body with pulsating energy that simultaneously empowers and radiates tranquility.”⁷

2. Soham: According to Yoga for Dummies, “The mantra soham (pronounced so-hum) means ‘I am He,’ that is, ‘I am the universal Self.’

It is repeated in sync with breathing: so on inhaling, ham on exhaling.”⁸

In Christian teaching, "I AM" very specifically refers to God the Father, and is not appropriate for an individual to chant.

These practices Include:

1. “I bow to Lord Shiva, the peaceful one who is the embodiment of all that is caused by the universe.”⁹

2. “I bow to the lotus feet of the gurus, the awakening happiness of one’s own self revealed; beyond better, acting like the jungle physician; pacifying delusion, the poison of samsara . . . to Patanjali, I salute.” ¹⁰



There are specific hand, body, and eye positions in yoga called yoga mudras. Yogis believe that by forming these positions, one can direct the flow of energy.

These positions are utilized by skilled yogis to induce alternate states of mind and consciousness.



The concept of chakra originates in Hindu texts and is in yogic traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism.

The chakras are thought to be the seven main energy centers in the body that are located along the spine, starting at the base and running up toward the crown of the head.

The University of Metaphysical Sciences states

“In addition to its connection to the body, the third eye chakra is also highly related to the spiritual realm. This chakra is said to be associated with the ability to experience and even see into other dimensions during meditation. Astral awareness is related to this chakra. When the third eye chakra is awakened during meditation, a number of abilities are said to open up including higher cognition, remote viewing, intuition, telekinesis and telepathy. Inasmuch, psychic powers are often said to be related to this chakra.”¹²



In yoga, pranayama is not just breath control, but is also believed to regulate the prana (or life force) in the body.

While proper breathing is extremely healthy (it releases stress and calms the nervous system), it is important that breathing be done gently and at the pace of the individual.

The California College of Ayurveda States:

“The practice of pranayama has always been surrounded by an air of mystery. Since such practice is a gateway to yogic powers (siddhis), gurus have traditionally been hesitant to teach it until the disciple was able to prove his or her readiness.”

“Many great yogis have known of the dangers of pranayama when performed incorrectly . . . “

“. . . faulty practice puts undue stress on the lungs and diaphragm. The respiratory system suffers and the nervous system is adversely affected. The very foundation of a healthy body and a sound mind is shaken by faulty practice of pranayama. [. . .] This results in the prana charging recklessly through the body, causing both physical and psychological imbalances.”¹³



This physical and verbal salutation is regularly said in yoga classes and means “the divine in me bows to the divine in you.”

An article in Yoga Journal explains, “To perform namaste, we place the hands together at the heart chakra, close the eyes, and bow the head. It can also be done by placing the hands together in front of the third eye, bowing the head, and then bringing the hands down to the heart.”¹⁴


Pietra Fitness

Pietra Fitness is not “Christian yoga” or “Catholic yoga” and should never be described as such. Yoga describes an integrated whole of philosophies, spirituality, and physical practices based in Hinduism and found in Buddhism and New Age practices.

Pietra Fitness believes that beneficial stretching and strengthening exercises can be separated from yoga (in some cases slightly modified, and in all cases re-named) and redeemed in Christ for use in a Christian exercise program.


The Difference

So while you may see familiar movements in a Pietra Fitness class, it is important to note that the differences between Pietra Fitness and Yoga go much deeper than stretches.

At Pietra Fitness, we do not seek to attain spiritual enlightenment and immersion with the divine, nor do we utilize elements of yoga that conflict with Christian teaching.



Pietra Fitness, then, is not a technique to attain perfection. Rather, Pietra Fitness is a way to stay physically fit while answering the call of St. Paul to pray unceasingly. We simply offer our exercise in prayer to God.

In Pietra Fitness, each exercise class begins and ends with prayer.


The Saints

Since the founding of Pietra Fitness, we have discovered many saints in heaven whose prayers, teachings, and examples have guided us along our journey.

We are very grateful to these saints and Mary and have entrusted Pietra Fitness to their intercession. Prayer is powerful. We invite you to look to these saints—ask them to pray for you—in your own journey.

“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)


The Church

The Church clearly states that there are very real spiritual concerns associated with the practice of yoga, and it advises strong caution regarding the practice.

As Catholics, understanding what the Church says about Yoga should be taken seriously.



Our goal with Pietra Fitness is to provide a fully Christian alternative to yoga.

Our fully Christian alternative to yoga ensures people no longer have to choose between going to yoga or foregoing gentle stretching and strengthening classes altogether.

  1. Singleton, Mark. Yoga Body: the Origins of Modern Posture Practice. Oxford University Press, 2010. p 3-4.
  2. Singleton, Mark. Yoga Body: the Origins of Modern Posture Practice. Oxford University Press, 2010. p 33.
  3. Singleton, Mark. Yoga Body: the Origins of Modern Posture Practice. Oxford University Press, 2010. p 5.
  4. Singleton, Mark. Yoga Body: the Origins of Modern Posture Practice. Oxford University Press, 2010. p 6-7.
  5. Om, Aum, Pranava or Nada in Mantra and Yoga Traditions, https://www.hinduwebsite.com/hinduism/essays/aum.asp
  6. Mastering OM, Yoga Journal, https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/mastering-om
  7. Georg Feuerstein, Ph.D., Larry Payne, Ph.D., Yoga for Dummies, pg. 317
  8. Yoga Journal, The Beginner’s Guide to Common Chants http://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/841?print=1
  9. [Elephant Journal, The Ashtanga Opening Chant, https://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/10/the-ashtanga-opening-chant-melanie-cooper/]
  10. Richard Rosen, Seal the Deal, Yoga Journal, http://www.yogajournal.com/wisdom/1740
  11. University of Metaphysical Sciences, Understanding the Third Eye, http://www.umsonline.org/third-eye.htm
  12. California College of Ayurveda, Pranayama, Yoga and Ayurveda, Swami Vishnu-devananda, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Containing the Commentary Jyotsna of Brahmananda (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass/Om Lotus Publications, 1987), pp. 11 and 19 and chapter 2, sutras 15–17., https://www.ayurvedacollege.com/articles/drhalpern/Pranayama_Yoga_Ayurveda
  13. Rita Geno, The Meaning of “Namaste”, Yoga Journal, http://www.yogajournal.com/basics/822
  14. Yoga Sutras of Patañjali, Chapter 3,. The Extraordinary Powers, 111.1 – 111.56