Many Christians denounce Yoga without a second thought, and with vehemence by Fundamentalist and conservative Protestant sects; but for some reason, the question as to whether or not it is appropriate for a Catholic to practice Yoga continues to circulate on forums and call-in radio shows. There is so much information on what Yoga is that I hesitate to attempt an assimilation here, at least at the time of this writing. For now, a list of articles I’ve read on the subject will have to suffice. My primary concern as I begin this research is the instruction of Yoga in the classroom, both public and private.
Wikipedia. Of course.
Jesus Christ, The Bearer of the Water of Life (Vatican). Pontifical Council’s document on the New Age.
Yoga – Is it Permissable for Christians (EWTN). A good synopsis on the Church’s position on New Age practices, including Yoga. Many Christian former-practitioners argue that it is not possible to separate the positions from the philosophy.
School Yoga Tries to Avoid Religious Controversy (AP). The Encinitas Union School District in Encinitas, CA boasts the country’s most aggressive classroom Yoga program. Schools within the district are being sued for violating the religious freedom of the students.
To Yoga or not to Yoga. Patti Maguire Armstrong lays it on the line. Lots of good terms to Google later.
How Yoga Adversely Effects Our Children. Two key quotes from this article from The Voice Magazine are as follows. “According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, yoga is purely a religious discipline of the Hindu faith.” “These false prophets of New Age religions…key manipulators know that if they can influence the impressionable mind of a child, they can capture the soul of the adult.”
In Schools, Yoga Without the Spiritual (NYT). This article carries a neutral tone overall. Can you pick out the subtle hits of pantheism and indifferentism? According to the author, one ECUSA school does not object to the chanting in Sanskrit.
Why Yoga 4 Classrooms? Making Mindfulness and Yoga Part of the School Day. More an ad than an article, this instructor integrates Yoga stretches into the students’ daily routines (as opposed to dedicating a period of time for it). This makes it far more difficult for parents who object to request that their child(ren) “sit out” the exercise, and peer pressure will almost ensure that students will participate without much thought. The post included an open invitation to a workshop held at Christ Church on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. (ECUSA).
Yoga for Health (NCCAM). This page attempts to express the scientific values of Yoga. Other than stating that in its fullness Yoga includes meditation and the adoption of a philosophy, there is no mention of spiritual aspects or benefits of Yoga.
Why Are So Many Yoga Poses Named After Animals? One theory is that both animals and yoga bring happiness. I suspect there is some other reason rooted in Hinduism, but that is subject to research.