Religious or Spiritual? Anyone can do prayer pose.
Not that this holy can of worms needs to be reopened, but really, stories like this have us believing the damned thing will never be closed. If this continues, yoga teachers renting space at your local church, you may run into a Mary Mother of a problem. Also, people of faith, we hope you like zumba. A church in Southampton, England kicked out a yoga teacher and cancelled classes because they were deemed “incompatible with Catholic faith,” stirring up the Hinduism debate yet again.
Said Father Chandler who put the kibosh:
”Yoga is a Hindu spiritual exercise. Being a Catholic church we have to promote the gospel and that’s what we use our premises for.
”We did say that yoga could not take place. It’s the fact that it’s a different religious practice going on in a Catholic church,” he explained.
“On one hand we say to our parishioners ‘be strong in your faith’, and on the other hand there’s this other religious belief that’s not part of our faith. It’s not compatible. We are not saying that yoga is bad or wrong.”
But yoga teacher Cori Withell argues that she was doing the community a service. And besides, yoga is spiritual, not religious, she explains:
”I had never heard about any religious issue with yoga before but I have looked into it since and found that some other religions feel that when people meditate it could let the devil inside them,” she said.
”But there was never any meditation in my class – it was just exercises. Yoga is not religious: spiritual, but not religious.
”I do not object to anyone having a religious viewpoint, but it seemed terribly petty to cancel the classes.
”As a nation we have an obesity epidemic. I was trying to bring some exercise to the community and coming across blocks like this is frustrating.”
While this is not an overall Catholic rule, and each priest can make the call, a spokesman for Portsmouth Catholic Diocese said: ”It’s not possible for Catholic premises to be used for non-Christian activities and there is a dilemma with yoga as it can be seen as Hindu meditation or as relaxation.”
Well, we’re glad that’s clear and settled.
Ravindra Parmar, president of the Vedic Society Hindu Temple of Southampton, responded via the BBC and said yoga was “a form of exercise” and “not a religious type of activity” and offered the temple as an alternate space. He also shared his disappointment over the news since the Southampton Council of Faiths does to “get all the faiths talking to each other”.
It’s not just England you’ll find a king-sized kerfluffle between yoga and religion. Why, even the Chief Vatican Exorcist believes it’s evil, and many have wondered if yoga is actually a threat to Christianity. Meanwhile, Christoga practitioners who spend time “stretching and toning” AND “worshiping with Jesus Christ” end up seeming like the most practical out of the bunch.
Exercising the right to question is a wonderful thing. We just hope everyone can make an informed decision for themselves. Namaste!
What do you think? Have you seen resistance in your religious communities?
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