Friday, February 4, 2011

Catholic Yoga & ST. John de Britto

No wonder I had yoga on the brain ! It is ST. John de Britto feast day .
First let me say I am no expert on yoga .I'm just sharing my feelings and experiences with yoga .
This is written in regards to the whole issue that keeps floating around forums , message boards etc. Are you being a good devote catholic if you practice yoga ?
Honestly when it comes down to it , remember it is between you and God.
You will find priests who both advise against yoga and those who actually practice & teach yoga .
 I always like the examples God Himself gives me not among those here but who have come before us. Those saints , martyrs & holy people.
Certainly ST.Padre Pio would not have practiced yoga however ST.mother Teresa probably did & would not have discouraged people from it.
So do You yourself feel drawn to yoga . ? If so pray about it & ask Him the why .
 Are you curious ? Do you want to be more fit ? Do you want to fit in and belong ? Do you wish to learn breathing technique and meditation ? Do you wish to study yoga philosophy ?
The why is important. Mother Teresa told people not  to travel all the way to India to follow a guru  . Stay at home and help your own family , the homeless  etc.
I know people including catholics who have gone off following a guru while missing the angel in their own backyard .So no matter what religion you practice ask yourself these questions . If it is to find yourself , fit in or be cool .God is not usually asking us to pick up and cross an ocean polluting the air with jet fuels .
The issue of learning the philosophy of yoga is not a problem to a Christian if you are strong and true in your faith . many people also mistake religious practice for cultural ideals & practices. We must look at it is not the philosophy we may believe or put in to practice but whom do you worship , believe etc. You can read about culturalization & catholic diversity through this site
I am personally really culturally into the cultural customs of the celtic and aboriginal catholic cultures.
We know being catholic Christians that many of our catholic customs came from our pagan roots specifically roman. The act of preserving relics was not first a christian custom was it .
Each culture has its own philosophies . Morals laws etc. God touched all peoples and has given to all peoples and we do share with each other .
I can give the example in my own life. I have a love for the stories of krishna . do I worship krishna .no . does god ask me to be afraid when I am thinking of krishna . no. Myself being a christian don't talk to krishna I ask Jesus himself. why Krishna . people have said of all the Hindu gods krishna is the most like Christ in character. krishna is not Jesus , and not even close but through krishna I am always led to the sacred heart of Jesus ☺ and there I stay. However You see I am always with Him I always turn to him in everything .because of who I am this is who He made me and where he placed me .
Anyway in regards to yoga as exercise you can just sign up for a class at local community clubs or gyms . These classes teach the breathing , stretching .Perhaps light meditation but it will be very general such as focus on a tree , sky etc. no religion will be involved. Our priest took laughing yoga ☺and it so suits him as he is a jolly fellow already .
I will recommend for Christians if you wish to learn meditation & contemplation there are many christian/catholic groups that will teach this to you .
I of course would recommend the DJM so you can learn all types of prayer plus your plan of life ☺
I know centering prayer has been helpful for many people
You what is so beautiful about catholic yoga ?!!!
The name of Jesus prayer is your mantra !!
How cool is that ! ☺
The name of Jesus prayer is personal to you . even if someone else may have the same prayer we would never know it because it is personal to each and everyone of us just between us and our Lord ☺
So how did I learn about yoga ? I've written a bit about it before .

It all started with a book
God is in  all people even if Christians don't recognize it or atheists say they don't believe .Like Momma T said He presents Himself in all people .
For me the birth of my first child saved my life . God placed people in my life at the right time who said I could be the best mum for my child.
This was one of the first books I bought .
There is no religion in it. Just beautiful soft poses to do with your child and have fun releasing lots of joy ☺
There are a ton of Yoga books now for children

bird boy
Some people are very comfortable with this type of movement . We are not all made to play hockey or football . This little fellow loves football it is his fav sport to watch but he is a natural at yoga .
Some of our children do not like yoga and that is ok too .

sharon the yoga cat
Many of the yoga poses came from imitating animals , plants and other aspects of nature .
It is in fact just another method of prayer like singing , dancing or kneeling .
I can very much see why I connect with God doing yoga.

See you can be a cat or a bird ☺
I do my own exercise routine . I always begin with yoga . It loosens me up & helps my arthritis .
I do recommend taking a class . It may be fun , you may meet people and continue attending .
Sometimes that is all you need to get you on your way. Take books out from the library and read online yoga instruction .
Make up your own routine . what works best for me for my body with sore bones and all my middle age aches and pains will not be the same routine for my 10 yo son .
I also do a dance exercise routine after my yoga . Who knew people would call this zumba all these yrs later lol !
You see I loved latin dancing before I knew I was a catholic. I stopped it and my yoga etc. Thinking I was somehow a bad catholic.
I had an image of a good catholic is the stereotypical whatever western picture has been put out there . I'm supposed to wear skirts , have 18 kids and pray all day . right ?
I love skirts but in central Canada plaid shirts and long johns are a must .
lots of kids we have exactly the amount of children He sent us I'm a mum of 16 . 6 here 10 in heaven .
lol well ok I do pray all day .It is my most fav thing to do I can't not pray ;-)
 but do you see what I'm getting at God asks us to discern to see things as they are not as they appear to be. To be prudent ( the virtue of discernment ) but not become a prude .
I was becoming unhealthy . Then when I joined DJM  I started my dancing again , yoga again and for me that is ok .
you know there is the same debate about reading vampire books .
 I don't read them but I've written about the why. They are not for me because of my issues with abuse etc. I find them to dark when I've dealt with the issue of real darkness I just do not need to read fiction about it. It does not mean they are not ok for another catholic . I have issue with the whole self flagellation being of God weather it is the Lakota sundance , a catholic mortification practice or the Hindu hook piercing festival . I do not understand or believe God would ask us to harm ourselves when pain & suffering already exist in natural forms . I think God would rather people foster a child in Haiti & go out and feed the homeless.
However just because I do not understand the practice of self flagellation does not make those who practice it bad catholics or less His children then I.

Here are a few Catholic Yoga Sites

Below is my most fav book on saints By Tom Cowan
He often has saints who are not well known .Many Celtic saints and also saints from the very beginning of the church .  
ST.John Britto studied under ST.Francis Xavier and he went off to India to minister. He tried his best to take on the cultural customs of the people such as abstaining from the consumption of meat.  but also discerning what not to take part in such as the caste system .
Below is the prayer given it really helped me today .

ST. John de Britto prayer

ST.John so often I see people intolerant of others and unwilling to meet each other even halfway.
Teach me how to appreciate and honour the values and lifestyles of others. When people are different from me ,this does not make them wrong or unworthy .Pray for me that my discernment sharpens so I understand the variety of differences that make up the world , and not criticize or reject others unjustly.

1 comment:

Illustrated Ink said...

Rox, this is so fascinating! I never related Catholocism and yoga, and I love that you've opened my eyes to this! I too love the stories of Krishna, and just recently learned of the similarities between his stories and those of Jesus. It's kind of amazing how everything is connected.
My Mom does yoga on a weekly basis and just love it. I did as a child, but lost interest. Perhaps I will give it another try!