I have a secret. I have a few secrets. One is that I commit to a daily yoga practice. For 10-15 minutes, I turn on my laptop, and fire up a quick video online.
I am also Catholic. I pray my rosary every day, read scripture whether it’s a Proverb a day, or suggested devotional reading. I go to mass every Sunday, and holy day of obligation. When I didn’t have two dogs and the kids were in school, I went to daily mass and weekly adoration.
Yet. I still practice Yoga every day. I was reading an article that came in my Young Living monthly wellness box, titled “Yoga The Young Living Way”. As I was reading how to use Frankincense, or Myrrh for standing poses, as these oils are grounding, it hit me. Should I write about this? The answer from a friend was “You’ll get a lot of comments”. I took that as a yes.
According to Catholic Digest:
People who don’t know the difference between Catholic belief and this kind of nonsense easily wander off, from the former to the latter.
And I think this also shows the Church’s concern about yoga: it’s not the stretches and poses that the Church is worried about, it’s some of the Eastern mysticism that underlies them and is often taught with them.
I get that. I get the concern. I get it so much that people have unfriended me on Facebook over it. Really. I even tried to share this link on Ignatian Yoga. Surely, that wouldn’t set anyone’s alarms off. No such luck. I still hesitate to mention that I am about to practice yoga to my Catholic friends, because I don’t want to see yet another eye roll.
I don’t practice yoga for the spirituality. I am a Catholic for that. I practice yoga to see how far I can push my body in a way that is different, and not aggressive. I go to mass to be lifted up in prayer. To be connected to Our Lord, and my brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. I practice yoga because I like to feel strong and flexible in my body. The deep breathing helps with my emotions, just like passing the rosary beads between my fingers each morning.
I am a firm believer in The Trinity, the Eucharist, the Communion of Saints, the whole (vegan) enchilada. Any spirituality or words chanted during class, means I haven’t found the right class. I have had teachers that don’t push the spiritual side of yoga because they know it’s not every one’s cup of tea. I just breathe deeply and say a few mental Hail Mary’s until the chant is over. The thing about yoga is, you can participate as much or as little as you want to. Nothing is supposed to be perfect, and you go at your own pace.
I’m not saying that those that practice yoga for both the health benefits and it’s spiritual benefits are horrible people going to hell. Not at all. I’m talking about what I glean, and how I practice, which is always going to be different for every one.
If you feel iffy about practicing yoga as a Catholic, try SoulCore.
The workout involves a combination of core-strengthening and isometric exercises, stretching and overall strengthening of the entire body…and recite the Apostle’s Creed. Push-ups are done throughout each of the Our Father’s. The movements vary for each of the Hail Mary’s. And a stretching position of surrender brings us to each Glory Be. Each Mystery begins with a scripture verse and a reflection, offering a time of rest.
Or even Pietra Fitness.
[We] utilize physical exercise to promote core strength as a solid physical foundation for the rest of the body. For the soul, our workouts include prayer and meditations built upon the strongest of foundations: the rock of Christ and His Church. This powerful combination truly benefits the entire human person – restoring harmony and wholeness to both body and soul.
Although, I agree with Heidi of National Catholic Register who writes:
Some have attempted to “Christianize” yoga — but again that comes from a perspective that sees “regular” yoga as dangerous to their faith lives.
Before you freak out on me. Let me follow that up with this: according to the Letter to the Bishops of The Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation (1989), Saint Pope John Paul II approved the following statement which sums up how I feel about practicing yoga as a Catholic:
The majority of the great religions which have sought union with God in prayer have also pointed out ways to achieve it. Just as “the Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions,” neither should these ways be rejected out of hand simply because they are not Christian. On the contrary, one can take from them what is useful so long as the Christian conception of prayer, its logic and requirements are never obscured.
Bolded for emphasis. So I’ll keep working my Downward Facing Dog, with my pups after I pray the rosary, thank you very much.
If you would like to read up on this issue a little more, here are some posts I found (there were SO many!)
I would love to hear your take on this issue. Share in the comments below. Only please don’t tell me I’m going to hell, or I am opening a door to evil spirits. The only door I’m opening is the one to the pantry because after prayer, and yoga, it’s usually time for breakfast.
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P.S. Yes, those are my feet up there. See?