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“Is yoga a sin?” The question was asked in a letter to a Catholic newsletter. Troubled by this matter, the writer went on to say, “My gym offers classes in yoga, and I find the stretching and breathing exercises to be very helpful. A friend says I should no longer attend the class because yoga is a spiritual practice that isn’t accepted or endorsed by the Catholic Church."

This question appeared in a newsletter called “Scrupulous Anonymous,” published by a self–help group for people who agonize over problems of religious obedience and purity. Scrupulous Anonymous helps individuals who are troubled by past sins, and provides assistance to those who worry about sin in places where there is no sin.

Founded by a Roman Catholic community in 1964, the group helps people who suffer from “scrupulosity,” a state of anxiety or indecision that often has moral, religious or psychological roots. Scrupulous people are never at peace with a decision. They constantly go back to a previous choice and reevaluate it. They retrace their steps, hoping to achieve goals such as perfect obedience or purity. It is hard for scrupulous people to stick with a decision or a course of action because they worry constantly about sin.

As for the response to the question about yoga: “Although yoga does have roots in Hinduism,” wrote the editor of Scrupulous Anonymous, “the yoga offered in a public gym isn’t a threat to your Catholic life or spiritual practice.”

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