Catholics/Yoga

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Question
Dear Brother Ignatius,
You were so kind to answer a question of mine a few months ago, and I thank you. I was hoping you could help me with another one:
I have been practicing "yoga" for several months now. And by "yoga", I mean stretching and breathing. I started doing it because I was having chest pains from holding my breath, usually because of stress. I recently read something about Catholicism and Yoga being incompatible. In the DVD I use, there is no mention of any gods, or spirits, or even meditation, and I would not use the DVD if there was. It's all just stretching and breathing, which is absolutely all I use it for. The breathing and stretching has done wonders for my stress levels, and my chest pains have gone away. It's been an especially good exercise program for me since I recently found out I am pregnant. I guess my question is: Is it a sin to use a yoga DVD purely for it's physical exercise?
Thank you so much.
   -Liz

Answer
Dear Liz:

Just sitting in a comfortable position that merely "happens" to be a position similar to yoga is not problem. There is no yoga or meditation taking place in such a case.

Yoga itself is not "just an exercise." The very design, the postures and movements, are all designed according to a Hindu cosmology and are designed to place one in an altered state of consciousness, to open on up to the "energies" within the body and in the universe. This is what is meant by becoming "more aware of your body, mind and environment" mentioned by the Yogi master in the article.

Yoga cannot be performed without this effect regardless of whether or not one intends this effect.

Here is a warning from none other than Carl Jung, who's psychology was intertwined with the occult:

   quote: "One often hears and reads about the dangers of Yoga, particularly of the ill-reputed Kundalini Yoga. The deliberately induced psychotic state, which in certain unstable individuals might easily lead to a real psychosis, is a danger that needs to be taken very seriously indeed. These things really are dangerous and ought not to be meddled with in our typically Western way. It is a meddling with Fate, which strikes at the very roots of human existence and can let loose a flood of sufferings of which no sane person ever dreamed. These sufferings correspond to the hellish torments of the chönyid state..."
   --C. G. Jung, Introduction to The Tibetan book of the Dead


I have had a couple of deliverance clients who have been harmed by the "Kundalini Awakening".

I think anyone interested in Yoga ought to read an article by Subhas R. Tiwari, a professor at the Hindu University of America. He is a graduate of the famed Bihar Yoga Bharati University with a master's degree in yoga philosophy.

The article is Yoga Renamed Is Still Hindu:
http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archives/2006/1-3/09_opinion.shtml

You will see a sentence in that article, "In 2003, the Vatican issued a more conciliatory directive permitting Catholics to engage in the "New Age " in general and yoga specifically, but still warning against its spiritual and meditation practices."

The Author of the article is wrong on that statement. The Vatican warns against the New Age and does not permit Catholics to participate in it.

The Vatican document he is referring to is "A Christian Reflection on the New Age" (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/interelg/documents/rc_pc_i...)

No where in that document is new age practices permitted. Yoga is mentioned twice in the document and neither time is that mention a positive one.

Thus, other than that one mis-statement in the article, the article gives good information about yoga from a person who is an expert in yoga.

Also of interest are the words in an Open Letter to Evangelicals about Hindu evangelization:
http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archives/1991/01/1991-01-06.shtml

   quote: Hindus everywhere are becoming stronger and more assertive: ... 2) The West is clearly open to the Hindu message, ready to hear about yoga, meditation, mysticism, healing and the ancient ways. Such "products" were too sophisticated for public consumption 30 years ago, but today they're the hottest item on the shelf. Not a small part of this phenomenon is related, indirectly, to the coming of age of the New Age movement...

Consider these words a warning:

   quote: A small army of yoga missionaries - hatha, raja, siddha and kundalini - beautifully trained in the last 10 years, is about to set upon the western world. They may not call themselves Hindu, but Hindus know where yoga came from and where it goes.

This letter was written in 1991. Since then the "missionaries" have already set upon us and in large part have converted many, even those in the Church.

BOTTOMLINE: There are risks in performing Yoga, even if you think you are only doing exercise. There are spiritual ramifications. Besides, why use Yoga, why take the risk? There are plenty of exercise routines that have no spiritual risk.  

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Bro. Ignatius Mary, OLSM, L.Th.

Expertise

I am a Catholic apologist, catechist, spiritual director, and spiritual warfare/deliverance counselor holding a degree of Licentiate in Theology. Questions dealing with the Catholic Faith will be answered according to official Church teachings, where such official teachings exist, and according to solid principles taught by the Church and the saints on areas where there is no specific Church teaching. I am a one-hundred-percent loyal and obedient to the Pope and Magisterium of the Church. If you want to know the TRUE SCOOP of Church teaching, here is the place to get it.



We have three major ministries:

1) an Apostolate of Prayer;

2) Apologetics and Catechesis primarily offered through a Catholic Q&A (plus volunteering on expert.com); and

3) Deliverance and Spiritual Warfare: involving many things ranging from investigating "haunted houses," to counseling with demonized people, to dealing with spiritual warfare issues in our society.

Experience

I was a Baptist preacher, Bible teacher, and evangelist for 15 years before converting to the Catholic Church in 1992.

As a Catholic I have been teaching Bible, Catechetics, apologetics, and evangelism for 14 years. I also have 24 years of pastoral counseling experience and 14 years experience as a Catholic Spiritual Director.

I have been in deliverance ministry since 1986 as a Baptist. After converting to the Catholic Church I continued the spiritual warfare work including counseling, writing, consulting, and teaching workshops, and training Deliverance Counsellors.

In 2002 we began a new apostolate called the St. Padre Pio Center for Deliverance Counseling. This agency offers counseling to those persons who are demonized, and offers training for people who feel called by God to become Deliverance Counsellors. As director of the St. Padre Pio Center I was featured in a series of interviews on Spirtual Warfare on Ave Maria Radio.
Award: Recipient of the prestigious Kaltenborn Foundation Grant.

Organizations
In Religion: Catholic Society of Evangelists, Institute on Religious Life, Adoremus: Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, Coming Home Network, The Blue Army of our Lady of Fatima, Apostleship of Prayer, Confraternity of Mary, Queen of All Hearts (Montfort Fathers), Confraternity of the Brown Scapular BR>
In Counseling: American Counseling Association, Association for Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Values in Counseling, the International Society for Mental Health Online, and the former National Psychiatric Association. Brother is also currently working with two other counselors to form a new association called the American Nouthethic Association of Catholic Counselors. This association is not yet operational.

In Website Design: HTML Writers Guild, the International Webmasters Association, and the Good News Web Designers Association.

In Creative Writing: Academy of American Poets, the Association of Authors and Publishers, and is listed as Editor and Publisher of St. Michael House Press and Writers House Press in the International Directory of Small Presses and Little Magazines and the WritersNet Online Directory

Publications
Religious Book Publications include:
+"Regula Sanctus Michaelis" (The Rule of St. Michael)
+"Three Secret Strategies of Satan and Other Essays"
+"St. Michael's Spiritual Warfare Prayer Catalog"
+"Hope, Help, Victory: A Spiritual Warfare Workshop"
+"St. Michael’s Deliverance Counseling Manual"
+If God Wants This of Me: The Story of a Baptist Minister Turn Catholic Friar" (forthcoming)

Poetry Publications and Credits:
Book: "Only Silence is Shame"
Magazines & Readings: published in various magazines and conducted numerous readings
Listed: "Who's Who is U.S. Editors, Writers, and Poets" and the "International Authors and Poets Who's Who" out of London in the 1980s

Other Publications:
Book: "The Wilder Letters" (book of essays)
Book: "The Falling Torch: Our Democracy in Crisis"

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