6 NOVEMBER 2014
Former Buddhist nun and yogi revert to Catholicism, Connie Fait, rejects Pietra Fitness, a Christian alternative to yoga
This ministry recently published the testimony of Connie Fait, a lapsed Catholic who became a Buddhist nun, head of a Buddhist temple in Tibet and yoga teacher for forty years. See
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-19
CONNIE J. FAIT
By the mercy and Providence of God, Connie Fait came to realize the spiritual dangers of practising yoga and abjured it. She now speaks and writes about these things so that Catholics and other Christians may be enlightened on the truth about yoga.
While surfing the Internet, Connie came across this file on Pietra Fitness, a “yoga alternative”, on our site
A CATHOLIC ALTERNATIVE TO YOGA-PIETRA FITNESS 4 JULY/NOVEMBER 2014
and she contacted this ministry.
Connie Fait says that she has spoken to the founders of Pietra Fitness, Sara and Karen for over two hours and asked them a number of pre-determined questions. She was not satisfied with their explanations in the light of her own personal yogic experiences. She strongly believes that even the innocent use of the asanas (poses or postures) of yoga is spiritually dangerous for Catholics. She strongly believes that there is NO Christian alternative to yoga. She insists that Pietra Fitness is NOT an alternative to yoga.
Rather than my paraphrasing Connie Fait for you, please read her (edited) correspondence with me:
Subject: Yoga-Pietra Fitness
I have emails from Pietra Fitness that state they use yoga asanas; they just use different names and Christian prayers. Please read this article.
Thank you for writing to me.
You did not introduce yourself and you did not tell me how you got my email address. I wonder if you wrote after reading the following file on my web site:
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-19
31 OCTOBER 2014
Thanks for the link to Sue Brinkmann/WomenOfGrace that you sent. It is already up in a file at my site.
I’m not sure how I came upon your site yesterday.
I have spoken on the phone extensively with Pietra Fitness and in emails.
It appears you support them by posting their information on your site. That’s why I wrote you. I wanted you to know.
I am the person who wrote the article “Just Exercise? Former Yogi…” at the request of Sue Brinkmann of Women of Grace. They do not support Pietra Fitness. Please feel free to contact Sue regarding this. They have found SoulCore to be without error and do recommend this for fitness.
If you would kindly give me the link/URL where WomenOfGrace “do not support Pietra Fitness” as you say, I will study it and review my position on it.
I included the piece about Pietra Fitness on my site, but I DO NOT “support” them.
When I studied their site, I was fully satisfied that the founders had completely abjured yoga and had replaced it with a substitute of exercises that Catholics could safely take up.
If WomenOfGrace have anything in writing to show that Pietra Fitness is not good for Catholics, I can examine it, and maybe make a decision to modify my web site.
I thank you Connie for your concern for the Truth and for the Faith, and for writing to me.
If you, too, have anything in writing to show that Pietra Fitness is not good for Catholics, I can make a decision to modify my web site if it reassures me.
Subject: Fw: Pietra Fitness and Yoga
I have had an extensive 2 hour phone conference call with both Karen and Sara. Among a lot of other details, it was told to me that they are using yoga poses/stretches in their program along with some other forms of exercise; it was also stated in their email responses.
Here are the two separate email clips:
1. Connie, Thank you for your inquiry.
Yes, Karen completed yoga certification (while under careful orthodox spiritual direction) with the precise goal and mission of developing an alternative to yoga. She felt a clear understanding of yoga was an important first step in developing an alternative. Because Pietra Fitness is an alternative to yoga, however, an extensive background in yoga is not necessary (and in fact would be contraindicated) to the development of our program. The exercises in Pietra Fitness are chosen from a variety of sources because of their physical benefit such as strengthening, stretching, improving balance, etc. While some of the movements we use are similar to those found in yoga, other PF movements can be found in track, gymnastics, Pilates, dance, etc.
The Church encourages the faithful to identify, recognize, and utilize the good and true wherever it is found, and then bring it to fullness in Christ. Pietra Fitness draws upon this freedom to utilize healthful exercise found in yoga – in some cases modified, and in all cases renamed.
2. We are and have always been transparent about the fact that some of the exercises we use may be similar or identical to some of the physical movements in yoga, so we are in no way being deceptive.
Michael, I read in their founders’ bio and was also told on the phone that Karen has been doing yoga asanas since the birth of her 4th child who is now grown and still, till today, through the poses which are part of Pietra Fitness program. In the two emails (clips above) and by phone they made it clear yoga asanas are part of their program.
Yoga asanas are not exercise as westerners would like to believe. Asanas of all kinds not only the ones of actual deities but the stretching poses are working with prana in the subtle channels/nadis in the body connecting to chakras and prepare the body for higher states of meditation or union with deities/demons through a process of opening it up energetically. All poses have many dangerous possibilities that could be experience and inevitably will, no one can control this occurring or when it will for the beginner to the advanced. The danger for the soul is immense, the deception in the yogic traditions is hidden in mysticism, the occult and languaging that is not able to be properly understood according to traditional meaning by the inexperienced or unrealized.
Some excerpts from the Founder Guru of Iyengar Yoga:
Iyengar himself emphasizes that even for the one who wishes to practice the path of yoga, asanas and pranayama should generally be separated: “It is the author’s experience that if a novice attends to the perfection of the postures, he cannot concentrate on breathing. He loses balance and the depth of the asanas. Attain steadiness and stillness in asanas before introducing rhythmic breathing techniques…. Until the postures are perfected, do not attempt pranayama. One soon realises that when asanas are well performed, pranayamic breathing automatically sets in.” (LP, 10(Another words when perfected, the asanas induce spontaneously the pranayamic breathing.)
As many end notes show, ‘mere’ physical asanas can indeed have meditative inducing/ ‘energy'(prana) manipulating, spiritual effects.
The Iyengar website specifically claims that Iyengar’s unique emphasis apparently incorporates all eight limbs of yoga by teaching merely the first two limbs: “Yogacharya B.K.S Iyengar has shown and taught how all the eight aspects of astanga yoga [“The eight limbs of yoga prescribed by Patanjali.” (LY, 515)]are integrated in the practice of asana and pranayama…” Source: http://www.bksiyengar.com/iyengaryoga.htm
“Yogacharya B.K.S Iyengar has shown and taught how all the eight aspects of astanga yoga [“The eight limbs of yoga prescribed by Patanjali.” (LY, 515)] are integrated in the practice of asana and pranayama…” Source: http://www.bksiyengar.com/iyengaryoga.htm
Finally, in a rather revealing citation, we read again that there is more than meets the eye when dealing with asanas.
“Yogacharya B.K.S Iyengar has been teaching us how the performance of an asana needs: moral conduct (yama and niyama), how control of the body needs to be guided in asana, the role control of the breath (pranayama), how the complete involvement of the senses of perception (pratyahara) and total concentration (dharana) while doing asanas lead one to experience the higher states in yoga asana. One also needs to bear in mind that of the 8 aspects of asthanga yoga, only the first four, (yama, niyama) moral conduct, asana and pranayama can be taught. Pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi are experiential states and can never be taught.” Source: http://www.bksiyengar.com/iyengaryogpra.htm#twelve
Thus, the claim is easily made that Iyengar does not teach any of the last four stages, because they are not teachable and experiential only:
“Iyengar Yoga does not teach meditation. As mentioned earlier, meditation or dhyana is a state which can never be taught or experienced. It cannot be personally willed or created. It is a state where one becomes ONE with the universal spirit. One has no mind, intelligence, feelings or experiences when one is this state and there is no question of expressions of one’s experiences. Thus meditation can never be taught!! Often, people confuse a feeling of quietness and serenity as a state of meditation. A meditative state has no feelings!!” Source: http://www.bksiyengar.com/iyengaryogmed.htm.
But again, the ‘mere’ practice of asana has the potential to induce a meditative state.
Michael this is a lot of clips from Iyengar Yoga, but as you see here this well known Master of Yoga who has taught it to people of the west has made clear that asanas if performed well will bring about spontaneous pranayama response in the body. So the two forms of the 8 limbs of yoga, as he stated above, that he believes is necessary of yoga is the asanas and pranayama. The pranayama need not be taught either, because it occurs naturally with perfection of the asanas. The body will breathe itself because of the movement of prana in the body during the asanas. Essentially the asanas is the main limb according to Iyengar, with pranayama as second and will occur with perfection of the asanas. And meditation is never taught, cannot be as its a result of the perfection of the asanas and prana moving in the body to then experience the meditative states, eventually ultimate Union with Brahman.
This is important for those who love to do yoga asanas to know what they are involved with. That with their zealous love of the asanas form and its perfection over time the pranayama aspect will spontaneously occur without needing to actually be taught it as the second limb. It is why the spiritual, which is experienced through the prana can never be separated from the asanas, no matter who you pray to. When the pranayama aspect starts to occur is the beginning of the spiritual induction, early states of mediations, absorptions with other frequently troubling signs occur. This adds many other possibilities of dangers for people practicing; physical blockages resulting in undiagnosable pain, mental emotional disturbances, and psychotic breaks are possible when experiencing pranayama. Which is the beginning sign of kundalini activation. It’s like wind on fire, but the fire is moving through your veins in your body and you don’t have control of it as long as one is doing the asanas; even if stopping problems have been known to continue for months or more. This is commonly called spiritual emergency. People frequently end up in medication and in psycho wards.
This is a small description about the asanas and pranayama, I was glad to have found these quotes of Iyengar. I know this information is true to the tradition. So for those people who believe it will be safe to just practice yoga asanas take heed to warning from those Yogis of the tradition, its like playing with fire.
I hope this has been informative as well as my presenting some of my findings on Pietra Fitness.
I am very sad to know they are using yoga asanas.
I have written Sue Brinkmann of WomenOfGrace ministries regarding their stance on Pietra Fitness, and Susan and I have had extensive phone conversations about them in fact just two days ago.
Here an interesting video where the priest who had studied with a famous Guru quoted him laughing and saying westerners are fools to believe they can separate the spirituality from the yoga:
*The video is available at page 442 (Fr. Verlinde is from pages 439 through 442) of my compilation
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION PRACTITIONER-03
Subject: Re: Pietra Fitness and Yoga
Thank you very much for your explanatory letter.
Yes, you have convinced me with evidence that doing yoga asanas is sufficient to bring on pranayama and the spiritual effects that lead to yogic meditation.
If I modify the Pietra Fitness story on my web site, I will have to use your input but I will not give your email address on my site, unless you permit me to.
I look forward to hearing the reply to you of Sue Brinkmann and reading about what her opinion is on Pietra Fitness.
If she has already written about it on WomenOfGrace, please give me the link.
I still have some hesitations about the whole thing. There is the padmasana (lotus) pose which you know well. It is a yoga asana.
If someone sits in that position to pray before the Blessed Sacrament, how will it induce pranayamic breathing or yogic meditation? I am not defending that behaviour, just asking, because I am not really convinced that the poses of ex-yoga enthusiasts Karen and Sara will cause psychic problems for themselves or their students because they have completely abjured the philosophies of yoga. I say this even though I understood and agree with your inputs.
I appreciate your concern and your intervention, Connie, and at the same time I need to be clear on this matter because I believe that my web site has more on the dangers of yoga than any other web site worldwide.
Subject: Re: Pietra Fitness and Yoga
You may include my email address as you see appropriate to use. I welcome communication.
I did ask Sue Brinkmann and her reply is that they do not have any statement about Pietra Fitness (or any other similar practice, for that matter) and have only a few posts about yoga-alternatives on their New Age blog.
They do not want to get drawn into the “exercise” wars as everybody claims they have a yoga alternative, most of which, they find, are laced with yoga.
She and I have had extensive conversations about these different Christian yoga alternatives and her research of them and her findings.
When I personally learned of Pietra Fitness, I went to check out the PF site and saw yoga postures photos all over, and then a blanket of Catholic doctrine, it just didn’t feel right. As I later learned from their site and a phone conference with both Sara and Karen where I had prepared questions for them we talked over two hours. I learned of their individual yoga backgrounds/Karen was self taught then later trained in yoga a 200 hour course of no particular brand name, and has never stopped practicing yoga she just christianized it. She is not a yogi, experienced, trained or authorized to evaluate or discern what occurs to someone practicing yoga on a physical or spiritual level. Westerners rarely or never reach those levels of experience or renunciation into the Yogic tradition to be given those secrets or have attained those results themselves to be authorized as a Yogi able to recognize them in another. This is just the truth of spiritual tradition. Western yoga is presented for different reasons, not necessarily for realization or to create lots of qualified teachers who are actually Yogis. Someone like people christianizing yoga asanas have no real idea what they are doing to other people.
Just as a Yogi cannot say they know what a catholic saint or contemplative has experience in the Nine Stages of Prayer if they have never experienced it themselves. These things spiritual are known through mystical experience and also better fully understood through the writings of those who have had them.
Likewise, many are not experienced and trained by authentic yogis from the east in the true traditional way of the Yogic path. In my article I reference Yogacharya Iyengar and his quotes are all that is needed to realize all the other stages of yoga is “asanas”, and pranayama with spontaneously occur when asanas are perfected. One will have no willed control over it occurring because it cannot be a willed experience. One cannot make meditation occur or kriyas, or other effects from doing yoga, crippling unexplainable pains in the body that can last for day or months, kundalini, etc. It can happen to a beginner or to someone after a very long time. I have written about this elsewhere.
So I know from being experience of my own and other who studied with my past Guru what can happen. I was eventually authorized as a lineage holder, a Yogi and Lama of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. My teacher was a well known yogi from Tibet, featured in the movie Yogis from Tibet. I received trainings and practices from all those Tibetans in the film. I was a monastic nun and was permitted to head a temple and teach. My name was Lama Jangchub Wangmo, my teacher Garchen Rinpoche. I spent a total of 40 years involved in various forms of Yoga, hatha yoga, Ananda Marga Yoga, Kriya Yoga, and Tibetan Vajrayana yogic practices.
I am blessed to be released from what I fully understand of those traditions.
I hope that my knowledge and experience will serve our Lord to inform people of the true dangers of what appears as simple “exercise or stretches”. They have their own innate effect beyond ordinary perception.
is better to err on the side of caution by paying heed to the warnings of experts like Connie Faith who were themselves yogis and “been there, done that” to use a well-worn cliché.
1. BRAHMA KUMARIS WORLD SPIRITUAL UNIVERSITY
2. CARDINAL OSWALD GRACIAS ENDORSES YOGA FOR CATHOLICS
3. CATHOLIC YOGA HAS ARRIVED
4. DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE ERRORS-05
5. FR ADRIAN MASCARENHAS-YOGA AT ST PATRICK’S CHURCH BANGALORE
6. FR JOE PEREIRA-KRIPA FOUNDATION-NEW AGE ENDORSED BY THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOMBAY AND THE CBCI
7. FR JOE PEREIRA-KRIPA FOUNDATION-WORLD COMMUNITY FOR CHRISTIAN MEDITATION
8. FR JOHN FERREIRA-YOGA, SURYANAMASKAR AT ST. PETER’S COLLEGE, AGRA
9. FR JOHN VALDARIS-NEW AGE CURES FOR CANCER
10. IS BISHOP DABRE FORMER CHAIRMAN DOCTRINAL COMMISSION A PROPONENT OF YOGA
11. NEW AGE GURUS 01-SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR-THE ‘ART OF LIVING’
12. PAPAL CANDIDATE OSWALD CARDINAL GRACIAS ENDORSES YOGA
13. U.S. CATHOLIC MAGAZINE ENDORSES NEW AGE-REIKI, YOGA AND ZEN
14. VISHAL JAGRITI MAGAZINE PULLS YOGA SERIES OF FR FRANCIS CLOONEY
16. YOGA IN THE DIOCESE OF MANGALORE
17. YOGA, SURYANAMASKAR, GAYATRI MANTRA, PRANAYAMA TO BE MADE COMPULSORY IN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
1. A CATHOLIC ALTERNATIVE TO YOGA-PIETRA FITNESS
2. AN INDIAN CATHOLIC’S PROBLEMS WITH THE CONDEMNATION OF YOGA ARE ADDRESSED
3. AUM SHINRIKYO YOGA CULT
4. AYURVEDA AND YOGA-DR EDWIN A NOYES
5. TRUTH, LIES AND YOGA-ERROL FERNANDES
6. WAS JESUS A YOGI? SYNCRETISM AND INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE-ERROL FERNANDES
9. YOGA AND DELIVERANCE
10. YOGA IS SATANIC-EXORCIST FR GABRIELE AMORTH
11. YOGA-A PATH TO GOD-FR LOUIS HUGHES
12. YOGA-BRO IGNATIUS MARY
13. YOGA-FR EZRA SULLIVAN
14. YOGA-MARTA ALVES
15. YOGA-MIKE SHREVE
17. YOGA-SUSAN BRINKMANN
18. YOGA-THE DECEPTION-FR CONRAD SALDANHA
19. YOGA-WHAT DOES THE CATHOLIC CATECHISM SAY ABOUT IT
20. YOGA-WHAT DOES THE CATHOLIC CHURCH SAY ABOUT IT?
1. LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON SOME ASPECTS OF CHRISTIAN MEDITATION CDF/CARDINAL JOSEPH RATZINGER OCTOBER 15, 1989
2. JESUS CHRIST THE BEARER OF THE WATER OF LIFE, A CHRISTIAN REFLECTION ON THE NEW AGE COMBINED VATICAN DICASTERIES FEBRUARY 3, 2003
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-01
2. TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-02
3. TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-03
4. TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-04
5. TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-05
6. TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-06
7. TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-07
8. TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-08
9. TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-09
10. TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-10
11. TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-11
12. TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-12
13. TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-13
14. TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-14 VIRGO HANDOJO
15. TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-15 PURVI
16. TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-16
PRISCILLA DE GEORGE
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-17
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-18
BRANDY BORDEN SMITH
19. TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-19
CONNIE J. FAIT
Categories: new age