I was disappointed to read that Lourdes Wellness Center is promoting a Yoga program (May 18, “Lourdes Wellness Center expands Yoga program”). Yoga is by its very nature a Hindu religious practice. At the core of the philosophy of Yoga are the beliefs in pantheism, karma, reincarnation, the potential for self-realization or enlightenment without external aid, and a practiced and finally ultimate withdrawal from the world which is deemed to be an illusion or projection. These core beliefs are, at best, incompatible with Christian doctrine, having been negated by the radical entrance of Christ into human history. By the power of the Paschal Mystery of his passion, death and resurrection, we were redeemed from sin and enabled to enter heaven, and we enter it through Him alone.
Christian Yoga? The postures of Yoga are prayer-postures pointing to the pantheistic core beliefs of Hinduism. Using these postures opens one to spiritual forces, as opposed to merely material ones, which are opposed to their salvation. Yoga is all about using physical means to attain a spiritual end. So the question of separating the physical from the spiritual in Yoga is really a contradiction in terms. To use an analogy, if an atheist received the true Body of Christ in the Eucharist and simply said “I don’t believe it,” it is still real, and he still blasphemes the Body. Likewise, we can’t just say “I don’t believe it” or “I’m thinking of God” and practice Yoga safely.
Yoga as it was originally conceived was nothing more than a flawed foreshadowing of the power of the Paschal Mystery and the sacraments. In our redeemed age, it is now incontrovertibly incompatible with and antithetical to the Christian walk. Yoga and all New Age practices have filled the void that exists because we abandoned our redemption and the greatest source of bliss, comfort and beauty, the Eucharist. A return to the Eucharist and a renewed program of instruction on contemplative prayer will bring many Catholics back from these enticingly deceptive practices and philosophies.
Catholics who are considering Yoga, or any practice derived from non-Christian philosophies or religions, may want to read the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s On Some Aspects of Christian Meditation www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CDFMED.HTM, and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue's Jesus Christ, The Bearer of the Water of Life www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/PCCPCIDA.HTM. They should then scrupulously apply the principle of the necessity for the complete separation of a practice from any religious or philosophical system which is contrary to Catholic teaching or the practice of the faith.
Eileen Finegan D’Angelo
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