Greek Church Says Forget Your Yoga: “Incompatible with Orthodox Christianity”


Ahead of International Day of Yoga, as designated by the United Nations, the Greek Orthodox Church in Greece has lashed out at the popular relaxation and exercise.

The Holy Synod, the Greek Orthodox Church’s governing body in Athens, denounced yoga, saying it is “incompatible” with the Christian faith.

According to a statement issued by the synod, yoga is a fundamental part of the Hindu religion and is by no standards “a form of exercise.”

“For this reason, yoga is totally incompatible with our Christian Orthodox faith and it has no place in the life of Christians,” the statement said.

International Day of Yoga was introduced last year by the United Nations on a proposal by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.



  1. Angeline Liackos on

    Yoga is considered a great form of exercise and therefore should be practiced by all who benefit! There is no connotation otherwise on what Religion you practice be it Jewish, Muslim, or Christian, etcetera!

    • I think of Yoga as a form of exercise not as a religious meditation. We have a Yoga club for students and Yoga is also included in the OPHEA document as physical activity. We do not meditate when we do Yoga.
      I am Greek Orthodox.

      • When I was younger, I didn’t go to church to pray, but went because my parents went. Although I didn’t pray and had the innocence of a child to receive communion, I recievied grace as a child just attending church. Although many think it’s just an exercise, yoga is also a practice of the Hindu religion.Thus, just participating in their philosophy, without meditating, one is receiving something other then grace from Non-Christian spirits. Also the time you spend doing yoga, could be use to connect with what we believe, the Lord Jesus Christ

    • Abraham Yeshuratnam on

      Ascetics, devotees and Patanjali who introduced yoga in ancient India performed meditative postures ( asanas) , even by tormenting the body by standing on one leg, just to appease their gods. They were not interested in health, long life or sex. They preferred early death through torturous asanas (body postures) to attain nirvana (salvation). But now yoga is showcased as a way to get health, sexual energy and longevity. Several types of physical exercise and gymnastics of circus artistes have been hijacked to yoga by giving varied asana (posture) names in Sanskrit for the newly invented postures. Advertisements for such yogas show fake assurance of ‘sex power. long life and mental happiness. Yoga was introduced by ascetics in ancient India not to get sex energy or health. It was for worshiping mythological gods and goddesses in different types of meditative postures (asanas). But today sex is highlighted. And for sex power, Kundalini is being used to trap the gullible. They use weird terms such as ‘chakra,’ (wheel) ‘snake arousal to explain sexual passion. Men and women experience sexual arousal very differently, not only physiologically but psychologically, according to researchers, and this erotic sexual arousal is being exploited by yogis by saying the snake (kundalyan) has been aroused. At the Kinsey Institute, Janssen and John Bancroft, MD, the institute’s director, have been developing a theoretical model and a set of measurement tools that define sexual arousal as the product of excitatory and inhibitory tendencies. So ‘excitatory’ and ‘inhibitory’ impulses cause sexual arousal and not imaginary ‘chakra’ of yogis and no ‘snake’ is aroused, as claimed by yogis. It is asserted that by performing kundalini yoga the wheel from the bottom of the spinal cord will swirl and the snake will be aroused to get sexual pleasure. Sexual erection and arousal are being used by using the terms ‘chakra’ and ‘snake’ are used to fool the trainees. Yoga gurus cheat people by saying kandalini yoga will rouse the snake in you to get sexual pleasure. It is common knowledge that there is no snake to be aroused in the body. Human anatomy does not show chakra (wheel) in spinal cord. It’s all fraud and the gullible are being exploited by saying kundalini yoga has aroused the snake (erection is termed as arousal). Needless to say that people experience arousal without kundalini .But to make money imaginary sex power in kundalini is shown to attract clients in the West. What a great difference from the purpose of yoga as introduced by Patanjali, ascetics and devotees of the past and the fraudulent methods now used by modern yogis. Regular exercise in a gym or games such as tennis, basketball, football etc., boosts health, sex power and a fit brain able to learn, think and remember better

      • TheAtheistMarxist on

        As an atheist, I totally agree with you! Moreover, any Christian who practices yoga is a big hypocrite, as by being a Christian he/she should acknowledge the omniscience of the God Yahwe and Yahwe does not teach us anything about Chakras or wheels in the spinal cord! (a point on which me and Jesus agree) Therefore, if a christian practices yoga and believes in what the guru says, he/she is commiting the capital sin of mocking God’s omniscience and will most likely go to hell. Now, I’m not that well versed in biblical studies, but wouldn’t mocking God’s omniscience (basically insulting his intelligence) be a capital sin?

  2. Yoga is a practice within the pagan Hindu religion. The Church, as always, is correct in condemning it.

    Libraries are outdated.

    • Yoga saved me from pain pills after my car accident, there is no religious aspect of the exercise for me. There are however tremendous health benefits. Everything doesn’t have to be a religious debate 🙁

  3. Andreas Andeadis on

    Not only from the pagan religion of Hindu but also the first forms of yoga were sexual in nature. It is not compatible with Orthodox Christianity.

  4. If you believe that yoga should not be condemned by the Church, you don’t have a proper understanding of yoga. Read the young man, the gurus, and elder Piosios. It will give you a better understanding. If you don’t agree still, your problem is with God.

    • If while practicing yoga and meditation the one we meditate to is God then how can this be considered wrong. Such meditations are asking you to go to your higher power. I choose God and the Holy Trinity. How can this be wrong?

  5. If one wishes to know why so many Greek Americans of my generation (baby boomers) have long ago checked out of the church, it’s pronouncements like that this that push us away. I don’t practice yoga, not even interested in it, but I really don’t need some cleric telling me what I can and can’t do.

    • Obviously your problem is with the Church not yoga. “Checking out” will prove to be the biggest mistake anyone ever makes. The Church will never cease to exist and the further the world gets from God, the more foreign the Church will appear because it will never change or conform. The Church will forever equal Truth. “He who has ears let him hear.” God patiently waits for all of His children to return.

  6. Just to make sure that we are on the same page:

    If people are going to say “yoga is evil”, lets make sure that they are all talking about the same thing or, in some cases, have a clue as to what they are talking about.

    It sounds as if they are talking about Hatha Yoga which is a branch of Karma Yoga.
    How about Bhakti Yoga (actions/works)?
    Jnana Yoga (yoga of the mind)?

    Beware of sweeping absolute statements!

    Jnana yoga was my path to Orthodoxy. I don’t think that I would be here without it! Jnana (yoga of the mind) is a solitary path without gurus. My Jnana search was what is called a “neti-neti” search (not this, not that) — basically attempting to define something by eliminating what it is not. If you think about it, this was my introduction to Apophatic Theology. Oddly enough, Jnana Yoga means ” the yoga of Right Knowledge”.

    Jnana Yoga was the TOOL I used in an attempt to get a handle on a flash of insight which, after a long search (about a decade), I finally comprehended to be (in Orthodox terminology) “The Divine Darkness.

    A tool in and of itself is not “evil”.
    What the craftsman uses the tool for is how we determine “good” and “evil”.

  7. I am an Orthodox Christian who has been using yoga as strictly a form of physical exercise for several years. When I started my weight loss journey, I was not able to do prostrations during Lent. I once got stuck on the floor in church and a sexton had to help me up. I was 52 years old and over 300 pounds. I was so embarrassed. I have lost 100 pounds. Yoga has helped me to be able to now perform the prostrations without difficulty. The muscles needed for horseback riding are strengthened with yoga. I am now riding several times a week after not being in a saddle for 40 years. If the Hindu, or spiritually “lost” people choose to incorporate yoga into their religion, so be it. My yoga class consists of about 20 women, all Christians of various denominations, all there for our health. Some have debilitating forms of arthritis or fibromyalgia. As an Orthodox Christian I am strong enough in my faith that I have no false gods. Yoga should not be banned, but used as a form of physical fitness.

  8. YOGA – How is connecting Mind and Body with the Breath of Life be ,anything else than bringing spiritual awareness ! Opening the gateway to your spiritual connection. Yoga lifts your spirituality and clears all the energy blocks ,rendering a healthy body and mind.
    Yoga is physical practice that can benefit ur spiritual journey whateva ur religion.
    Greek Priests – should try it some time ?


    Yoga means union; union within ourselves, union with the inherent divine spirit, and harmony between we and all — that is within and without and finally to achieve the realization of the ultimate ONENESS of the whole cosmos,

    Not only the physical benefits but the mental serenity and strength and inner calmness derived from Yoga practice has drawn about 200 millions of westerners into this timeless teaching of SELF-knowing/realising the Supreme-truth.
    The American army has long incorporated it for their soldiers to ensure better coordination between the body and mind. The United Nation boasts of having separate Yoga clubs that look after a whole gamut of Yoga and mediations. Suryanamaskar and mediation are compulsory in many corporate houses in the European countries. Lots of eminent doctors have begun to advice their patients to practice pranayama (breathing exercise) before major surgeries, (ref Time magazines). This is in order to bring psychological and anatomical harmony and better result in the operation.
    Are we aware that the world-famous psychiatrist Carl Jung, a Nobel laureate poet William Butler Yeats and scientists like Julius Oppenheimer and David Josephson were intense yoga practitioners? Celebrities like Madonna, Angelina Jolie, Steve Jobs, Melissa Joan Hart, Soleil Moon Frye, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sting, Paul MacCartney are yogaholics.
    Yoga, which developed in India about 5000 years ago, is an ancient tradition for integrating the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of our being. Though it was mentioned in several ancient treatises but was systematically documented by a great sage Patanjali. The main aim of yoga is to recognize our true nature and the inherent wisdom available to each of us from that recognition. The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit verbal root yuj which means “to yoke.” It has a wide array of meanings which range from “union” to “spiritual endeavor.” Essentially, yoga means union; union within ourselves, union with the inherent divine spirit, and harmony between we and all that is within our world and finally to achieve the realization the ultimate oneness of whole cosmos.
    “Yoga calms me down. It’s a therapy session, a workout, and meditation all at the same time!” says a renowned American actress Jennifer Aniston.

  10. Pingback: Greek Church Says Forget Your Yoga: “Incompatible with Orthodox Christianity” | Ups & Downs

  11. The church comes up with some dandy ideologies, no wonder more and more people are leaving the church. I think the church should be about bringing people together and teaching about being a good person, rather than causing rifts and turning people away. You guys are on the right path for destructing a once sacred institution. It has now become a joke.

  12. Olga Palladino on

    This article has no truth. No one from the Holy Synod issued it. Whoever wrote this is a hater of the church and trying to cause problems.

    • Gregory Pappas on

      Olga– from the Press office of the Holy Synod:

      Η Ιερά Σύνοδος για τη Γιόγκα
      Στο πλαίσιο του σεβασμού της θρησκευτικής ελευθερίας, η οποία στην Ελλάδα είναι συνταγματικώς κατοχυρωμένη και σεβαστή, αλλά και της ποιμαντικής της ευθύνης για την αποφυγή δημιουργίας κλίματος θρησκευτικού συγκρητισμού, με αφορμή την πρόσφατη καθιέρωση από τον ΟΗΕ της 21ης Ιουνίου ως «Παγκόσμιας Ημέρας Γιόγκα», η Ιερά Σύνοδος της Εκκλησίας της Ελλάδος υπενθυμίζει στο χριστεπώνυμο Πλήρωμα ότι: η «Γιόγκα» αποτελεί θεμελιώδες κεφάλαιο της θρησκείας του Ινδουϊσμού, έχει ποικιλομορφία σχολών, κλάδων, εφαρμογών και τάσεων και ΔΕΝ ΑΠΟΤΕΛΕΙ «είδος γυμναστικής».

      Ως εκ τούτου η «Γιόγκα» τυγχάνει απολύτως ασυμβίβαστη με την Ορθόδοξη Χριστιανική Πίστη μας και δεν έχει καμία θέση στη ζωή των Χριστιανών.
      Εκ του Γραφείου Τύπου

  13. WE as Orthodox Christians should be proud and relieved about this. Instead people (OC) are downplaying the stand the church took. We and the church have laxed on many aspects of our faith, we have chosen a way of life, not a comfortable belief. We shouldn’t follow what celebrities do or Nobel winners say. Remember our Saints?
    What did they say and do, how about following them? If you need meditation, try prayer, if you need peace, try prayer, if you need cleansing, try confession.

  14. We as God’s people have strayed so far!! How is it that when the Church we put all our faith and trust in–the True Church of Christ–makes a statement we disagree with (due to our own lack of knowledge) we backlash like spoiled children? We need to educate ourselves! St. Paisios wrote many things about these kinds of practices! Read his book mentioned above or read another of his called From Tibet to Mt. Athos. The information is there for those who want to learn the truth. I, for one, am so grateful to the Holy Synod for speaking out and attempting to protect us from things that are harmful to our souls. Sometimes as parents, we tell our kids things they don’t want to hear for their benefit, dont we? This is no different. The Church is protecting its own. Whether you choose to lean on your own understanding or trust the wisdom of theirs is your choice. Glory to God for all things!

  15. Please view this video of the personal experience of Mr. Klaus Kenneth with yoga. He used to be a guru of yoga himself, and he directly saw demons during his practices. He is now an Orthodox Christian. Here he speaks of how yoga is not simply exercise.

  16. It is refreshing to see the Church make a formal statement and give guidance on yoga. This clarification is necessary (and long overdue) since we live in a time when yoga has infiltrated our fitness centers and has become synonymous with fitness and wellness of body and mind (soul). Yoga is a Hindu practice no matter how you slice it. Orthodoxy is about a living a Christ-centered life to gain salvation (not Hindu liberation). Exercise is good; ride a bike, walk, run, jog, play sports. Prayer and prostrations are even better.

  17. The ancient Olympics were an homage to Zeus. So are we to assume that competitive running, boxing, weightlifting, etc are now forbidden by church officials even if Zeus is no longer formally honored at the Olympiad?

  18. Pingback: Властите во Централна Русија ја забранија јогата - Радио МОФ

  19. Pingback: Are Yoga Poses Harmful to the Christian Believer? | VARANGIAN GUARDSMAN

  20. Cherie LeClair on

    I was baptised and raised Methodist. At the age of 30 I suddenly became disabled as scoliosis rods failed from childhood surgery, leading me into a hell storm of health issues for 21 years: surgeries, cancer treatments, heart failure, pancreatitis, and many, many procedures for back and cancer. It was quickly apparent to me that I did not have the depth of prayer or spiritual strength I needed to just survive a day with my “method” teaching. Living in Portsmouth, NH I was exposed to many New Age, Native American and Buddahist, ideas including tai chi, yoga, tarot cards, hypnosis, energy work, visual meditation, sweat tents, Ayurvedic Cleansing, etc. I could write a book. I read Paramahansa Yogananda teaching, followed Ammachi for a couple years. However, during it all I never lost touch with my original Chrisitian upbringing and continued teaching Sunday School at a UCC church. After about 5 years I was led to the Orthodox Church by my minister acquaintance. He thought my artwork was very Orthodox. I had never heard of the church before . During severe cancer testing a neighbour took me in my pajamas late one night so I could just sit and be alone in the church. It was a Greek Orthodox Church. As soon as I walked in I k new I was home. The large icon of the Pantocrator over my head, the smell of the incense, the candle light reflecting off the gold. It was all right. Right to my soul. Forgive my testimony. I only included it to give you the weight of seriousness when I say, I would never participate in any yoga, meditation, hypnosis, etc. why? Many reasons. Humbly I and for my soul I do not want any teachings that focus on self healing and not Christ’s healing. Just uttering the incantation of ummmmm, and other Hindu teachings, is a way to unite to their Gods. We are warned by the church Fathers to never engage in anything visual or speak to anything that arrives in prayer or meditative prayer. we are to ignore it. Spirits come in all form. Not all good. I have had personal experience with this and know it is true. I also learned that I am not spiritually strong enough to casually engage anything spiritual. Instead Disengage at all costs. Call upon the name of the Lord Jesus. If you need a good stretching, strengthening program work with a good physical therapist. Leave your chakras to God. He will balance and heal you in everyway you need. a lot of meditative music which is popular these days, is Hindu and Native American. What you may not realise it includes prayers to their gods. I had to give away a large cd collection when I realised this. If a Hindu yoga can twist his guts at will and levitate; a Buddist monk survives with just a robe exposed to the elements on the Himalyan mountains by raising their body temperature; what could Jesus do? God incarnate! Anything He wants. My journey in earnest began in 1994. in 1999 I re-committed my life to Christ with all my many Indian, Buddahist, and yogi friends present. In 2001 I was baptised into the Holy Orthodox Church. In 2013 I was anointed as an iconographer. I am home and never looked back. God Bless and In Christ, now and forever, Cherie.

  21. You can’t believe in a faith a la carte. You can’t translate the teaching of Christ the way it suits your life and makes it easier for you to have everything the way you want them. You either believe in Christ the way it is and follow, or not.
    So, please, stop blaming the church for people turning their back to god. It’s your weak faith that makes you turn your back to Christ.

Leave A Reply