What is a Pietra Fitness class like?The class begins and ends with brief Christian prayer. Near the end of the workout, there is a period of extended stretching, during which the instructor will read a simple meditation. The majority of the class is spent doing various postures and exercises that promote flexibility, balance, and core strength.
Who is Pietra Fitness for?Pietra Fitness is a wellness program for those who seek full integration of mind, body, and soul. The workouts combine stretching and strengthening exercises and postures with Christian prayer and meditation based on Catholic spirituality. People of all beliefs are welcome to attend. Men’s and women’s classes are separate.
Is Pietra Fitness “Catholic yoga” or “Christian yoga”?No. There are other programs and teachers that call their workouts “Christian yoga” or “Catholic yoga,” but Pietra Fitness is not one of them. An exercise program cannot be both because Christianity (coming from Christ) and yoga (based in Hinduism) have fundamental differences in theology and philosophy. Most Hindu and Christian philosophers would agree that “Christian yoga” is an oxymoron because the practice is not truly yoga unless it incorporates Hindu spirituality, worldviews, or both. Likewise, Christian activities are firmly centered on Christ. Yoga cannot offer the fullness of a program designed to minister to the human person as he or she is understood within the Christian faith. Christ tells us: “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other . . . ” –Mt 6: 24
Does Pietra Fitness have an official stance on yoga and other practices rooted in non-Christian traditions?Our position is based on that of the Catholic Church. Our goal is to draw from the good and true, wherever it is found, and bring it to fullness in Christ. The Church does not forbid the practice of yoga, but it does strongly caution people that there are very real spiritual dangers to be aware of. We should not take this warning lightly. We must get informed and make very intentional decisions based on solid spiritual and intellectual formation. The Church asks Christians to know and apply their faith. Two documents from the Vatican are great resources for the faithful on this subject: The Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith Jesus Christ The Bearer of the Water of Life by the Pontifical Council for Culture & Pontifical Council for Interreligious
Pietra Fitness has exercises that look like movements I’ve seen in yoga. Why?We believe yoga cannot be separated from its Hindu roots; therefore, yoga cannot be part of a specifically Christian exercise program. We also believe that stretching and strengthening exercises can be separated from yoga. Our bodies can only move in certain ways, and yoga has cataloged most of them. Exercises that are healthful to the normal function of the human body can be separated from yoga—in some cases slightly modified, and in all cases renamed. These movements cannot belong exclusively to yoga because God is the architect of the human body and the author of human movement. Many movements found in yoga are naturally found in other activities, such as soldiers doing pushups, runners stretching their hamstrings, a gymnast balancing on one leg, and a dancer easing into a split position,. There are yoga poses, however, that should never be used by a Christian because they are explicitly religious in content (e.g. the lotus pose with om fingers). Pietra Fitness also does not incorporate poses that are unnatural for most people and could be potentially dangerous (e.g., odd twisting pretzels).
I just do the physical exercises of yoga. Why is that bad?Yoga is a mind and body practice developed under Hinduism. The goal of yoga is spiritual enlightenment and immersion with the divine. If you are doing exercise only, then you are not truly doing yoga at all—you are simply exercising. Many yogis are actually offended when westerners strip yoga of its spiritual elements and still call it yoga. Again, doing movements that are found in yoga is not the same as practicing yoga, which does involve the body, mind, and soul.
Can I do yoga without being affected spiritually?At Pietra Fitness, we emphasize that one cannot regularly practice yoga without some spiritual effect. It would be disrespectful to yogis and naïve of us as Christians to conveniently side-step the inherently spiritual aspects of the practice. Yoga was designed for both physical and spiritual impact, and yoga poses are often chosen and sequenced to open up energy channels or to create an altered state of consciousness. The Church cautions us about this, but she is not alone. Yogis themselves have long recognized the potential dangers of yoga. As stated on yogadvdguru.com:
“The negative side effects of yoga are not always physical. Mental instability can also be a side effect of practicing too much yoga or practicing it incorrectly. Some negative—and severe—side effects can include pseudo death, pseudo psychosis, confusion, increased anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal patterns, depression, homicidal urges, and feelings to self-mutilate. Headaches, temporary blindness, sexual pains, and social issues may also arise. A combination of these symptoms when caused by yoga is typically what is known as Kundalini Syndrome, which stems from performing Kundalini yoga poses incorrectly or too often.”(Source: http://yogadvdguru.com/yoga-side-effects.shtml, Feb 7, 2014) Many of these symptoms are spiritual in nature. As Christians, we believe spiritual forces are either good or evil. Nothing is spiritually neutral. These side effects are certainly not good and do not come from God who loves us and grants us a peaceful spirit. Therefore, at Pietra Fitness, we firmly believe it is imperative to avoid energy work and chakra manipulation.
I am a strong Christian. What if I just filter out the spiritual stuff?Can you accurately explain the spirituality and philosophy of true yoga? If you do not understand it in-depth and cannot thoroughly explain what it is, then you should not rely on your ability to “filter out” what you are receiving.
My doctor told me I should take yoga. I totally trust my doctor. Why shouldn’t I listen to his/her advice?Your doctor has training in and offers expertise in medicine, not in spirituality. Doctors know that deep breathing, stretching, strengthening, and relaxing are all excellent ways to improve health. When giving advice, your physician does not necessarily consider the religious beliefs of patients or the spiritual implications of a wellness program. Ask your physicians what exercise goals they are advising (flexibility training, strengthening, relaxation, core work, balance, etc.). Then find a program, in line with your beliefs, that specifically works toward that end.
I am an instructor at a gym, and I know my yoga class has no spiritual content. No problem, right?If you call your class yoga, there is a problem. First, it should not be called yoga if it is simply a stretching class. Westerners must be respectful enough to recognize that yoga is rooted in specific beliefs and philosophies, and it offers an entire way-of-life. When the simple stretching and strengthening postures are isolated from the other important elements of yoga (such as purification and cleansing rituals, controlled breathing exercises, dietary guidelines, spiritual philosophy, etc.), can it accurately be called yoga at all? Second, by calling your class yoga, you are potentially encouraging students who love your class to go deeper into the practice. You have no control over what your former students may someday learn at the yoga studio of their choice, but you are partially responsible for sending them there.
I’ve been taking yoga for years and have never noticed anything spiritual about the class I go to. What are some examples of common practices in yoga that may be cause for concern to a Christians?One example would be the very common advice to “empty your mind” while meditating in class. God gave us a mind to use—to fill with insights, questions, thoughts, prayers, and aspirations. He should be the supreme center of our minds and hearts. Through science, we know that a space is never truly empty: when a void is created, another substance will fill it (even if it is just air). So, when you empty your mind in a yoga class, you are making yourself quite vulnerable spiritually. There are forces that are eager to fill the space you so willingly create. Another example is chanting. Do you have a translation of what you are saying? For instance, there is a Sanskrit chant often used to begin Ashtanga yoga classes: http://ashtanga4life.com/chants/ (Feb. 7, 2014). The translation explains that in this chant, one is prostrating himself to the “divine serpent…” This clearly is not compatible with Christianity.
If Christians desire union with God, who is divine, then why do they disagree with the Hindu or Buddhist notion of “union with the divine”?Non-Christian eastern mysticism does not recognize a single, supreme, omnipotent, omnipresent God who created all things and all people. Karma, nirvana, reincarnation, total enlightenment—these are all concepts that conflict with the Christian belief system because they establish divinity as attainable for all creatures. Christians recognize there is only One who is divine. Our spiritual union with Him exists in our relationship with Him. It will never put us on par with Him or blur the lines between the Creator and the created. We grow closer to Him through faith, hope, charity, and the sacraments. Christians also believe in absolute truth, rather than personal truths, moral relativism, and paths apart from Christ to reach enlightenment.
Why do people want to pray when they workout? Can’t they just separate the two… read the Bible then go for a run?Yes! People can certainly separate exercise and prayer, and there are many legitimate forms of both. Nonetheless, activities that integrate the body and the soul seem innately to attract many people. We are both body and soul. In fact, God teaches that our bodies and souls, once separated by physical death, “will be reunited in the final Resurrection” (CCC 366). It is quite natural, then, for people to desire activities that unify body and soul. Walkers and runners often pray the rosary, for example. St. Benedict believed all labor can be a prayer if we are mindful of God: “Ora et Labora” (prayer and work). Combining prayer and exercise is timeless. It helps us to “redeem the time” as St. Paul exhorts us to do in Ephesians 5:16. Praying while we exercise feels good, and it helps us to pray without ceasing.
Is Pietra Fitness all I need to get and keep my body and soul in shape?Pietra Fitness is not a complete solution to the quest for a balanced life. Physically, you may need a variety of activities to promote wellness, like walking, running, playing sports, or dancing. Spiritually, you need the sacraments and a well-developed interior life. Pietra Fitness is a tool to use as you work toward balanced living. It complements other forms of prayer and exercise.
How is Pietra Fitness different than yoga?Though some of the physical exercises are similar, the practices of Pietra Fitness and other holistic (mind–body–soul) wellness programs are fundamentally different. There are specific practices that our workouts will never incorporate:
- Seeking immersion into the divine and becoming identified with the divine
- Emptying the mind or seeking altered states of consciousness
- Manipulating energy or doing chakra work
- Using Sanskrit or chanting
- Practicing postures that are explicitly religious in content (e.g. the lotus pose with om fingers)
- Practicing postures that are unnatural and potentially dangerous (e.g. odd twisting pretzels/contortions)
- Practicing unnatural breathing techniques
In the yoga studio I go to, there is a table at the front of the room with statues of Buddha and Hindu deities beside a picture of Christ. As a Christian, I like being able to think about Jesus during my workout, while other students can think about their own religious beliefs. Isn’t this a good thing?“Then God spoke all these words: I am the LORD your God…. You shall not have other gods beside me. You shall not make for yourself an idol or a likeness of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or serve them.” Exodus 20:1-5a Though you may seek to serve God alone, in the circumstance you describe there are clearly other gods placed beside Our Lord, and you are physically bowing before them in various yoga postures. This action indicates acceptance of relativism (a rejection of absolute truth), polytheism (belief in many gods), or syncretism (the blending of contradictory beliefs or philosophies). Relativism, polytheism, and syncretism are contrary to the truth revealed in Jesus Christ. Here are two more passages from Scripture to consider: “What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God… therefore, come forth from them and be separate.” 2 Cor. 6:16a, 17a “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is Lord alone; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Deut 6:4-5
I have rededicated the temple of my body to Jesus Christ. Because I’m a temple for Him, is it OK to still do yoga classes or use yoga DVDs, books, and apps?No. The rededication of a Christian temple indicates the intent of total fidelity to Christ. Willful participation in yoga is participation in an activity based in Hinduism (with connections to Buddhism and the New Age). Just as it would not be right to have a statue of Shiva or Buddha in a Christian sanctuary, so it would not be right to practice yoga as a Christian. Christian participation in yoga becomes syncretism (the blending of contradictory beliefs), which, by its very nature, is no longer explicitly Christian.
MANAGE MY MEMBERSHIP ACCOUNT
How do I sign in to the Pietra Fitness website?To sign in, please visit pietrafitness.com/wp-login. You will remain logged in for eight hours, and then you will need to log in again.
How do I cancel my monthly membership?To cancel your monthly membership, please sign in to pietrafitness.com and follow these simple steps
- Scroll to the bottom of the page and click My Account
- Click My Subscription
- Click “Cancel”
How do I reset my password?To reset your password, please sign in to pietrafitness.com/my-account/lost-password and follow these simple steps.
- Enter the email address you used to sign up for your membership and click “Reset Password.”
- You will receive an email with a link to create a new password. Follow the link and enter your new password twice.
- Make sure you save your changes.
- Passwords need to be at least eight characters long, cannot contain any commonly used words or phrases, and cannot be any of your past three passwords.
- If you are being prompted to enter your old password, it means that you are already signed in to pietrafitness.com. Please make sure you are signed out on all of your browsers (in case your email opens up a different browser when you click on a link).
- If you are being prompted with the error message “INVALID TOKEN,” clear cookies and cached files.
How do I change my email address?To update your email address, please sign in to pietrafitness.com and follow these simple steps
- Scroll to the bottom of the page and click My Account
- Click Account Details
- Making changes to the Email field, and save your changes
How do I update my payment method?To update your credit card information, please sign in to pietrafitness.com and follow these simple steps.
- Scroll to the bottom of the page and click My Account
- Click My Subscription.
- Click Change Payment, and enter your new card information
- Click “Change Payment Method”
What happens at the end of my free trial period?At the end of your free trial period, your payment method on file will automatically be charged $9.99 each month until you cancel your subscription.
How are memberships billed?Monthly memberships are billed every month. At the end of your free trial period, your payment method on file will automatically be charged $9.99 each month until you cancel your subscription. Three-month and 1-year memberships are one-time purchases and will immediately be billed. All memberships are listed and charged in USD ($)
What payment options are available for individual memberships?Pietra Fitness currently only accepts credit cards via PayPal or Stripe for individual memberships.
How will my membership charge appear on my credit card statement?Charges will appear on your credit card statement as Pietra Fitness.
What is your Cancellation and Refund Policy?
Monthly MembershipsYou may cancel your monthly membership at any time; however, it will not be effective until the end of your current monthly billing period. That means you will continue to have member access for the remainder of your current monthly period—you will not receive a refund. When canceling your membership, all future charges associated with future months of your membership will be canceled.
3-Month & 1-Year MembershipsThree-month and 1-year memberships are one-time purchases. Pietra Fitness will not issue refunds, prorated or otherwise, for the remainder of your membership period.
Have additional questions? We would love to hear from you.