A Elder from the Holy Mountain Athos enumerated the following points about the difference of the Jesus prayer from Yoga.
1. The Jesus prayer express faith in God through His Son Jesus as part of a trinitarian God. It emphasizes that salvation is attained through God which is why we ask for His mercy. Salvation cannot be attained by our own efforts.
2. We are not attempting to find some impersonal God or absolute truth through the Jesus Prayer. The Jesus Prayer focuses on a personal relationship with the God-Man Jesus.
3. We cannot fall into the sin of pride through the unceasing prayer of Jesus because in the prayer we continually seek mercy for our weaknesses. We consider ourselves unworthy of God’s grace and recognize our sinfulness in His eyes.
4. Salvation is about union with God. In this union we do not eliminate our personality. The human factor is not denied as it is in some Eastern yoga practices. We are not assimilated in this union, but retain our personhood.
5. As we progress in the prayer we gain the ability to discern error. We learn the movements of the devil and enhance our ability to distinguish between good and evil.
6. The struggle in the practice of the Jesus Prayer is connected with the cleansing of our body and soul from the negative effect of passions. We do not seek apathy or to destroy our passions, but to transform them into help to seek a relationship with God. Our salvation depends on this struggle of transformation, which requires the help of God’s grace.
7. We do not try and attain absolute nothingness, but seek to turn our heart so it brings the grace of God into our soul, so it can be spread throughout our body. We make no effort to negate or destroy the body, but see it as the temple of the Spirit. We practice the prayer because we want to live with God eternally.
8. We are not indifferent to the world. We continually pray for all beings. Salvation is a union with Christ, while we are in communion with other persons. It is not an individual goal.
9. We do not put great emphasis on psychosomatic methods or on body postures. They can only assist us in concentration.
(Metropoitan of Nafpaktos Hierotheos, A Night in the Desert of the Holy Mountain, pp 48 -50)
The difference from “New Age” practices or Eastern yoga meditation has been described by using the analogy of a framed masterpiece. We can admire the beautiful frame of a masterpiece, but the frame is not the masterpiece. The similarities between the Jesus Prayer and various meditation practices can be considered to be like the frame of a masterpiece. The masterpiece in the practice of the Jesus Prayer is union with Jesus Christ. The frame is only the methods used. There may be similarities with postures, techniques and other acts of the outer form of this prayer, but the content and aim is totally different and uniquely Christian.