That’s not a new stance, but when retired Catholic Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz issued a statement telling Catholics to abstain from yoga — all hell broke loose on Facebook this past week.
Especially, in the Lincoln area, where Bruskewitz ruled the Catholic Diocese for 20 years, often taking hardline ultra-conservative stands on issues even the church had softened on.
Bruskewitz’s statements were included in a May 18 blog on the Women of Grace website, a Catholic organization for women of which Bruskewitz is on the board of directors.
In his letter, he urged women to find other forms of exercise that do not jeopardize their faith. The issue with yoga is that it is based in Hinduism — a religion the Catholic church has called “incompatible to Christianity.”
Indeed, Catholicism is not the only Christian-based faith that takes issue with yoga. Evangelicals have long preached yoga-avoidance — because the chants, poses and movement names all connect to the ancient Hindu religion and the individual quest for enlightenment.
That’s not to say all yoga enthusiasts embrace Hinduism — in fact most Americans taking part in yoga do it for the physical and mental benefits of stretching, breathing and meditating.
But still, practitioners say Hindu phrases such as “namaste” — commonly translated: “the light within me bows to the light within you” — they assume poses with names like sun salutations and warrior, which have deep roots in the Hindu faith.
To get around the theological Hindu aspects, yogis of other faiths have created Christian and Jewish yoga programs such as Holy Yoga, Praise Moves and Shalom Yoga, in which people pray, recite Scripture from the Bible or Torah, and assume religiously neutral poses or ones specifically linked to their own religious beliefs.
This past fall, Lincoln’s Bonnie Meyer opened Studio 4:8 Yoga, a Christian yoga ministry based on Philippians 4:8.
Meyer, a strong Christian, said she struggled for a long time over the decree that yoga and Christianity were incompatible. But then she did her research, took classes and learned that yoga predates Hinduism, although yoga is now part of the Indian religion. Rather than quit yoga, she converted it. Continue reading >>