#Catholicism and Yoga: Finding the Common Ground
It’s no secret that the two spiritual traditions of Catholicism and Yoga have had a long and sometimes tumultuous relationship. From Pope Gregory XVI’s papal bull of 1832 which labelled Yoga as ‘diabolical’, to the present day where Roman Catholic and other Christian groups increasingly embrace Yoga as a form of meditation and relaxation, the fortunes of mindfulness and physical practices associated with Yoga have been on a roller-coaster ride. But how does one reconcile the seemingly disparate philosophies of Catholicism and Yoga?
##Theological Foundations of Catholicism and Yoga
At the core of both Catholicism and Yoga is a common thread: the quest for spiritual knowledge, understanding and transformation. Each tradition is founded on the premise of a Supreme Being. For Catholics, this is God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For practitioners of Yoga, it is the All-encompassing Divine Consciousness.
Moreover, both traditions emphasize the need to cultivate the body and mind in order to reach a higher spiritual level. Catholicism is founded upon the idea of self-sacrifice and spiritual purification through acts of penance, prayer and devotion. Yoga, on the other hand, is based around a process of self-discovery and transformation through physical poses, asana, breathwork and meditation.
##Yoga’s Role in the Catholic Tradition
Though there is a long history of resistance to certain aspects of Yoga from the Catholic church, it’s no secret that Catholic figures throughout history have shown sympathy towards the Yogic path. Figures such as Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint John of the Cross were known to embrace aspects of meditation and introspection similar to those found in Yoga in their own spiritual practices.
Today, Catholic church officials have become more open to Yoga, recognizing it as a tool for spiritual soul-searching. In 2003, the Pope issued a statement expressing his support for Yoga and other forms of Eastern spirituality for use in individual prayer and meditation.
##Benefits of the Catholic-Yoga Relationship
At its core, the relationship between Catholicism and Yoga is one of mutual respect and understanding. By combining the wisdom of the two traditions, we can gain a greater understanding of the spiritual journey and cultivate an all-encompassing approach to prayer and meditation.
For many Yoga practitioners, incorporating aspects of the Catholic faith into their spiritual practice provides more structure and guidance in their journey. Moreover, for Catholics, Yoga can provide a refreshing and modern approach to spirituality and an appreciation for the divinity of the body.
Though it may seem that Catholics and practitioners of Yoga are worlds apart in terms of their beliefs, the common thread of a spiritual yearning for transformation can be found in both philosophies. By combining their wisdom, we can find a greater understanding of the spiritual journey and create an all-encompassing approach to prayer and meditation.
I am passionate about yoga and this is my blog. I have been practicing yoga for over 10 years and teaching for 5. Yoga has transformed my life in so many ways and I love being able to share that with others. My hope is that through this blog, I can help people learn more about yoga, connect with other yogis, and find inspiration to live a healthier, happier life.