Skip to comments.Catholic faith & yoga incompatible (Ft Myers bishop bans classes, Voice of Faithful objects)
Posted on 05/21/2007 8:41:32 AM PDT by NYer
Part I An Inspirational Story
As a Catholic contributor, I never write for human respect. If that were my purpose, I would have already curtailed writing. Because my intent is to speak the truth, I never expect a pat on the back. But I maintain it pleases me to learn that my work does not always fall on deaf ears. Like most Christian writers I have encountered admirers and detractors. The positive feedback has been rewarding, but one specific incident is prominent amid the others.
One morning while checking my message machine, I heard a female voice announce, Im searching for the woman who writes for Catholic websites. From her amiable tone, I sensed she was not a detractor and I returned her call.
When I phoned her, she introduced herself and will be referred to herein as Mary. She indicated she had read some of my articles and wanted to ask a question about the New Age dilemmas prevalent in her hometown. Though Mary and I had just met, it was soon apparent our passions were considerably alike!
Next, Mary shared a very inspirational story with me. She had discovered that a nearby Catholic parish in Fort Myers, Florida, was offering Yoga classes in the Chapel that surrounded the main altar. Mary and a few friends including a relations manager from Relevant Radio, arrived at Pope John XXIII parish on the morning of February 5, 2007.
After arriving, Mary proceeded into the church and lightly sprinkled holy water and blessed salt in the church before the Yoga classes commenced. Then she entered the parking lot to distribute leaflets about Yoga, to approximately 25 women as they arrived for the classes. Mary reasoned the women probably did not understand the dangers inherent in Yoga and she wanted to offer guidance. While distributing the literature Mary was confronted by the Yoga teacher (the Deacons wife). The Yoga teacher told Mary, I wish that you would leave Church property. Mary in turn professed the same wish to the instructor.
A few minutes after the guru re-entered the church, Mary recited the Blessed St. Michaels prayer and re-entered the church as well. She slowly opened the door to the Chapel and was horrified by what she witnessed. The Chapel was dark with the exception of a few dimly lit recessed lights. Mary thought, Ive never seen an aerobics class like this before near a consecrated altar.
Mary noticed the women were dressed in leotards and slouched on their Yoga mats in a half circle, or crescent moon position. The teacher/guru was advising the participants to visualize love and light. Writers Note: The meditative phase of Yoga begins with fixing the mind on one object which may be anything whatsoever. Mary viewed signs that advertised Yoga products and Yoga classes and noticed a table adorned with a basket for donations.
Mary also observed that much of the Yoga material was embellished with the Om Brahman symbols. As Mary began taking photos, the women seemed to snap out of their trances and became irate. After a few minutes of insults hurled at Mary, she closed the chapel door and left.
As Mary headed to the church parking lot to depart, she learned that the guru and her followers had summoned the police. After Mary and her friends spoke to the substitute priest (the Pastor was not available), he communicated to the police that there was not a problem, and the police retreated.
According to a short article by the Yoga instructor, the regular Pastor/Administrator is a Yoga practitioner himself. Upon his return, he continued to support the Yoga classes and had blinds installed for those who found the classes offensive. Hopefully, most of us understand that window blinds would not have prevented our Lord from seeing the sinfulness that transpired near His altar.
Though horribly distressing that these women had desecrated our Lords house with their occult practices, the story does have a wonderful conclusion.
Shortly after the incident, Mary gave Bishop Frank Dewane various articles and photos regarding the offensive Yoga classes. Though he has not explained his decision, he ordered the classes discontinued. The bishop and Mary deserve credit and praise for their courageous actions.
Marys account might remind you of a similar one. I think most of us can recall how our Lord angrily threw the moneychangers out of His Fathers house. When necessary, our Lord acted with righteousness and did not hesitate to call unrepentant sinners hypocrites, sons of hell and broods of vipers.
New Age practices and beliefs have become rife and deeply embedded in Catholicism. The New Age Movement is really not new at all. Its evil is recorded in Genesis. The challenge for Catholics is to discern authentic spirituality and be willing to confront the New Age serpent-speak when we witness it. After all, speaking out really can make a difference!
Part II: Why Yoga is Incompatible with Christianity
What is Yoga? The word Yoga means union. The goal of Yoga is to unite ones temporary self with the infinite Brahman. Brahman is not a personal God but a spiritual substance which is one with the cosmos and nature.
Fr. James Manjackal, a Catholic priest who was raised in a traditional Catholic family in India, states: Yoga is not an elaborate system of physical exercises, it is a spiritual discipline purporting to lead the soul to Samadhi, the state in which the natural and divine become one. It is interesting to note that postures and breathing exercises often considered to be the whole of Yoga in the West are steps three and four towards union with Brahman.
In a recent phone conversation with Fr. Paul E. Demarais, he stated that there is no safe level of Yoga practice. Fr. Demarais is Diocesan Director of the Cult and Occult Awareness Network in Providence, Rhode Island.
The late Fr. John Hardon SJ also affirmed that Yoga is not compatible with Catholicism. Inner Hinduism or Yoga professes pantheism which denies that there is only one Infinite Being who created the world out of nothing. This pantheistic Hinduism says that followers will have brief tastes of heaven between successive rebirths on Earth.
Dr. John Ankerberg states in his article Innocent Yoga? Regardless of the school or spiritual tradition, Yoga practice tends to alter a persons consciousness in an occult direction. Even when Yoga is practiced innocently, it can eventually produce occult transformation.
There are those who claim there is nothing wrong with practicing Yoga for exercise purposes only, but even the teachers of Hindu have stated that the philosophy and the practice of Yoga are inseparable. From Johanna Michaelsens book Like Lambs to the Slaughter (pp 93-95) she states, You cannot separate the exercises from the philosophy The movements themselves become a form of meditation.
Denial about the New Age is a common obstacle. (2 Tim. 4:3) For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but will follow their own desires and insatiable curiosity.
As Christians, we cannot straddle the fence. Sadly, many ask themselves, How close can I get to the fire without getting burned? The answer: There is no such thing as Christian Yoga.
To see article on a bishops ban of the practice of yoga in the church,
click here: The News-Press
Catherine Marie Rhodes is the pseudonym of a member of the Catholic Media Coalition and a contributor to Spero News.
Thanks for this article. I was actually thinking of taking a yoga class. :(
Reminds me of that article you posted last year, in which a group tried stopping a Hindu-themed mass.
Plenty of yoga classes in the U.S. have no spiritual component whatsoever, it's simply exercise. I've taken such classes.
That said, the yoga classes offered at our church (in the parish hall, NOT in the sanctuary) were too New Agey for me, so I quit. The instructor is a parishioner, but she's clearly a New Age nut . . . has a website all about being a "Peace Warrior" etc.
I haven't been in the parish that long, so I'm not raising a stink to the rector. The class has maybe 8 people in it, both women and men.
Oh brother. I have little tolerance for those whose faith is challenged by yoga of all things.
Don’t despair. Visit and see whether they’re goofy or not. Some yoga classes are simply exercise.
That's what I'm looking for.
Look in the right place and you will find the right class for you. Yoga is a really great regimen for increasing core strength and improving flexibility. Having done it on and off for about 5 years now I can tell you that it offers great benefits.
You can find yoga taught at health clubs, the Y or studios.
This is the first time I’ve heard Yoga referred to as being “occult”.
By those who believe what they believe and that those who don’t are sinners....
Yeah, the Catholics should becomore more modern and accepting of everything to show how tolerant they are...kinda like the Unitarians.
Anything that might potentially erode Big Religion's profit margins routinely gets labeled "occult". ;)
I've heard dabbling in Pilates means an automatic sentence to Purgatory upon death.
You can never be too careful.
Yoga does usually have a spiritual component. It may be harmless surface stuff (in fact, I think it usually is in the U.S. because most yoga instructors don't have the background to get heavily into the psychic end. Even those who try are usually pretty ignorant.)
But yoga theory does involve religious practices which are incompatible with Christianity. So you could have a very heavily religious yoga class (probably one taught at a Hindu temple - there's one around the corner from us.) I would not take a yoga class there, because that would be clearly incompatible with my beliefs.
However, your average YMCA yoga class probably is taught by somebody who has only a superficial acquaintance with the spiritual aspects of yoga. And worrying about occult influence in that sort of class is right out there with worrying about Harry Potter. There are far more important occult influences to worry about.
Or, more appropriately and in the context of the article; Anything that focuses on Om Brahman and not Jesus Christ in a Catholic Church can be labled "occult" (but perhaps the best definition would be "incongruous")
And worrying about occult influence in that sort of class is right out there with worrying about Harry Potter.Uh, oh, now you've done it ...
Somehow I doubt you have...but don't let that get in the way of a discussion around what is or isn't appropriate in a Catholic Church.
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