Yoga not for Catholics – misleading answer to the oldest hopes of man.
By Anette Ignatowicz August 5, 2011
THE YOGA SHOW in LONDON is presented as Europe’s largest yoga event.
It says on its website: “The Yoga Show has experienced unprecedented growth in the last two years and now sees 15,000 attendees coming through the doors, everyone from curious first-timers looking to find a discipline that will suit them, to experienced yoga professionals trying to achieve the next level of spiritual enlightenment.” Yes, indeed, don’t be fooled, we are talking here about the spiritual enlightenment.
How big is this YOGA phenomenon?
The latest “Yoga in America” study, just released by Yoga Journal shows that Americans spend $5.7 billion a year on yoga classes and products, including equipment, clothing, vacations and media (DVDs, videos, books and magazines). This figure represents an increase of 87 percent compared to the previous study in 2004—almost double of what was previously spent. The 2008 study indicates that 6.9% of U.S. adults, or 15.8 million people, practice yoga. (In the previous study, that number was 16.5 million). Of current non-practitioners, nearly 8%, or 18.3 million Americans, say they are very or extremely interested in yoga, triple the number from the 2004 study. And 4.1% of non-practitioners, or about 9.4 million people, say they will definitely try yoga within the next year.
Yoga Journal claims that “Yoga is no longer simply a singular pursuit but a lifestyle choice and an established part of our health and cultural landscape,” says Bill Harper, publisher of Yoga Journal. “People come to yoga and stick with it because they want to live healthier lives.” One significant trend to emerge from the study is the use of yoga as medical therapy. According to the study, 6.1%, or nearly 14 million Americans, say that a doctor or therapist has recommended yoga to them. In addition, nearly half (45%) of all adults agree that yoga would be a beneficial if they were undergoing treatment for a medical condition. “Yoga as medicine represents the next great yoga wave,” says Kaitlin Quistgaard, editor in chief of Yoga Journal. “In the next few years, we will be seeing a lot more yoga in health care settings and more yoga recommended by the medical community as new research shows that yoga is a valuable therapeutic tool for many health conditions.”
Some findings suggest that there are just over 10,000 active yoga teachers in the UK, teaching between 20,000 and 30,000 yoga classes each week. Research suggests that teachers are offering an average of 2-3 classes per week and that the average number of students per class is around 15. This suggests that there are between 300,000 and 460,000 people currently practicing yoga in the UK. The British Wheel of Yoga [BWY] – recognised by the Sports Councils as the national governing body for yoga in the UK – with more than three thousand teachers, the BWY provides nearly one third of yoga teaching in the UK. Its teachers provide around 9,000 classes a week, reaching an estimated 150,000 students.
How YOGA went from East to West?
Chizuko Hunt in her fascinating work “Yoga Practice in 21st Century Britain: The Lived Experience of Yoga Practitioners” tells us how yoga came to West and became so popular:
“Yoga was originally developed in ancient India, and the knowledge has been handed down by demonstration and word of mouth from teacher to pupil as tradition. After the British Empire colonized Southern Asia, yoga practice became known to a few westerners who had an academic interest in Indian history and philosophy (Worthington, 1982). Worthington (1982) explains that public interest in yoga was revived by Ramakrishna (1836-1886) whose message then was of the essential oneness of all religious traditions. Many of the yoga movements today follow this integrative teaching. His most well-known disciple was Vivekananda (1863-1902), and many westerners followed him by mainly spreading Hatha Yoga to the West.
The Theosophical society was formed in 1875 in New York by Mme Helena Blavatsky (1831-1891) and Henry Olcott. The society had been a catalyst in assisting the spread of yogic and Indian philosophical knowledge in the West (Stuckrad, 2005; Heelas, 1996: Faivre, 2000). The society translated and published many yogic texts, and there were attempts to modernise yoga in India. Ramana Maharishi (1879-1950) passed on his knowledge of Jnana Yoga. Aurobindo Ghosh (1872-1950) advocated an Integral Yoga in which he tried to combine the fragmented methods of specialized yoga practices into a holistic lifestyle. Sivananda (1887-1963) spread the moderate Hatha Yoga practice worldwide, and taught in his ashram in Rishikesh many teachers who have proved successful and reliable guides (Strauss, 2005). In this moderate Hatha Yoga way, yoga has gained grass-roots popularity in the West and other Asian countries (De Michelis, 2004). In those days, the people who wanted to study yoga met difficulties of finding a guru. They were prepared to learn the Indian and/or Tibetan language and Sanskrit to read the scriptures, and spend years practicing yoga in order to gain spiritual satisfaction. There were also a number of Indian gurus who travelled to the West to spread their teachings. One of the famous yogis was Swami Vivekananda
who gave a talk on yoga at the Chicago World Religious Convention in 1893.
He made such a huge impression on the audience that William James writes,
“In India, training in mystical insight has been known from time immemorial under the name of Yoga. Yoga means experimental union of the individual with the divine. It is based on persevering exercise; and the diet, posture, breathing, intellectual concentration, and moral discipline vary slightly in the different systems which teach it. The Yogi, or disciple, who has by these means overcome the obscurations of his lower nature sufficiently, enters into the condition termed Samadhi, “and comes face to face with facts which no instinct or reason can ever know.” …When a man comes out of Samadhi, they assure us that he remains “enlightened, a sage, a prophet, a saint, his whole character changed, his life changed, illuminated.” (James, 1902, p. 400)
Vivekananda visited many towns in the USA and founded the Vedanta society. He visited Britain and gave many talks (De Michelis, 2004; Worthington, 1996). Around the turn of the century, some westerners were opening their eyes to yoga. C. G. Jung was also fascinated by the East and its cultures. He travelled in India, and was influenced deeply; for instance, he drew Mandala (pictures of Buddha) in later years. In the West during the 1930s and 40s, there was a growing interest in India and yoga, that saw a torrent of books published, for example Alexandra David–Neel on Tibet and Theos Bernard on Hatha Yoga. Among them, Paul Brunton was very popular, and his book “A Search in Secret India” (1947) sold well. In particular, and importantly for my study, M. Eliade published his scholarly and influential book “Yoga: Immortality and Freedom” in 1954. It was translated into English later (1969). He studied Sanskrit in Calcutta for three years and yoga in an ashram for six months (1928-31), then completed a doctoral thesis, which was published later and formed the basis for the above book. His books are still well-quoted in any serious studies on the subject of yoga (Feuerstein, 1989; Wicher, 1998; Burley, 2007; Stuckrad, 2005; De Michelis, 2004). According to Worthington (1982), the first yoga school was set up in Britain (in Epping) in 1949 by Sir Paul Dukes, an eminent ex-India civil servant. He also wrote a popular yoga book (1960). Yoga then had ‘cult’ status for the people who sought it out, who had been a member of the elite class in Western society but who were disillusioned and wanted to find ‘an alternative style of life’ or ‘deeper meaning in life’. Newcombe (2008) traces the way the British Wheel of Yoga was established in 1965. In the 1970s, hundreds of yoga classes started throughout Britain on the back of Local Adult Education classes (Newcombe, 2008), but there were many private classes too. Richard Hittlemen ran a popular colour TV series in 1973, which was watched by millions of people. Hittleman also wrote popular yoga books (1969; 1966) which helped to spread yoga further. With many yoga gurus establishing branches in the major Western cities, yoga became accessible to most ordinary people. During the summer months, Indian gurus regularly visit North America, Britain, Europe and Australia, and Western students in return often visit their guru’s ashrams in winter. Those well-known gurus often have world-wide networks of teaching centres, teachers and followers in addition to well-devised teacher training and teaching programs (Strauss, 2004). As more western teachers qualified to teach, an increasing number of venues ran yoga classes. Yoga continued to spread, mainly among the middle classes (De Michelis, 2004; Newcombe, 2007).
In 1971, the European Union of National Federations of Yoga (UEFNY) was established in Switzerland (Worthington, 1982). Seminars and retreats started being organized more widely. Since then, national bodies have been affiliated from all countries in Western Europe, and some from the eastern bloc. A ‘Minimum Programme’ was drawn up to provide a minimum statement of principles, so that all member countries could build their teacher training programmes on a similar standard, which is based on Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga (Worthington, 1982). In this way, Western yoga has been standardized and quality-controlled within the western cultural milieu.“
NOW, LETS BE CLEAR WHAT CATHOLIC CHURCH SAYS ABOUT YOGA
The Catholic Church has warned Christians against resorting to New Age therapies to satisfy their spiritual needs.
The Vatican’s 62-page document is called Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian Reflection on the New Age. It lists yoga as one of the traditions that flows into the New Age. (See #2.1) The document also states, “Yoga, Zen, TM and tantric exercises lead to an experience of self fulfillment or enlightenment” according to New Agers. It adds that they believe that “anything which can
provoke an altered state of consciousness are believed to lead to unity and enlightenment” (#126.96.36.199) The document goes on to say, “It is therefore necessary to accurately identify those elements which belong to
the New Age Movement, and which cannot be accepted by those who are faithful to Christ and his Church.” (#4)
Fr. Amorth, who is the Vatican exorcist, says “Yoga, Zen, and TM are unacceptable to Christians. Often these apparently innocent practices can bring about hallucinations and schizophrenic conditions.”
Publishing the results of a six-year study of practices such as yoga, feng shui and shamanism, the Vatican said that whatever the individual merits of such therapies, none provided a true answer to the human thirst for happiness.
If “prayer turns into just listening to music and falling asleep, it’s no longer prayer,” Church official Monsignor Michael Fitzgerald told a news conference at the Vatican to launch A Christian Reflection on the New Age. The report says there is a “genuine yearning for a deeper spirituality, for something which will touch their hearts and for a way of making sense of a confusing and often alienating world”. Many people, the report acknowledges, have rejected organised religion because they feel it fails to answer their needs. “I want to say simply that the New Age presents itself as a false utopia in answer to the profound thirst for happiness in the human heart,” Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said at the news conference. “New Age is a misleading answer to the oldest hopes of man.”
EX-YOGA PRACTITIONERS SPEAK ABOUT THE DANGERS OF YOGA
Meditation – The Path to Deception:
PAGAN INVASION – Chuck Smith and Caryl Matrisciana 9:57
Former Kundalini Yoga Teacher Turns to Christianity:
MY SPIRITUAL JOURNEY – Mike Shreve 9:44
DANGERS OF THE NEW AGE – Mike Shreve 28:32
Categories: new age