Sunday, May 17, 2015


 Health Ministry
Cathedral Yoga
    Cathedral Yoga - Practice begins each Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. and ends at 6:45 p.m. (in the Atrium, enter from Van Buren Street). $10.00 per session or $90 for a ten-pack. Arrive at least 10-15 minutes prior to your first session to sign-in/complete paperwork. For more information contact Scott Eakins, RYT at 414/276-9814, ext. 303.
From Wikipedia:
Yoga (/ˈjɡə/; Sanskrit: योग, Listen) is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline. There is a broad variety of schools, practices and goals[1] in Hinduism, Buddhism (including Vajrayana and Tibetan Buddhism[2][3][4]) and Jainism.[5][6][7][6] The best-known are Hatha yoga and Raja yoga.


Dialogue said...

I have always wanted to try acupuncture just once. Yoga doesn't seem like something you can do successfully just once. Can it be Christianized?

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine and her sister, both very devout Catholics, practised Yoga for several years and thought it was beneficial. However, one of them started reading up on the poses - cobra, etc. Each exercise involved special breathing techniques and they were taught to feel the life force moving through the body. She didn't like what she read and so gave it up, because she came to the conclusion that it was more than just pure exercise, although that was how it was initially packaged.

Interestingly, both of them suffered neck and back problems later in life due to head and shoulderstands that had been taught to perform, so not even the exercise was beneficial in the long run!


rcg said...

I have a difficult time seeing a yoga pose as being spiritually threatening. Yoga thought could be, though. Should try Pilates.

Dialogue said...

Animals naturally stretch as needed. We teach ourselves not to do so, and then create elaborate rituals to reintroduce the practice.

Anonymous said...

Mind-Body awareness, emphasized in yoga, is a means to wholeness and, therefore, holiness.

The Jolly Jansenist said...

Mind-body awareness is not a means to holiness. Belief, repentance, and Confession are the way to holiness. All that hippie-dippy sprout and tofu nonsense is anthropology, not theology.

Catherine of Siena said...

Yoga has no place in a Catholic Church. Its roots are in Eastern religious practice and Hindu occultism. Make no mistake; Yoga is not just a series of simple stretches. It is designed to breakdown spiritual barriers and release the Kundalini, the dormant energy found within. In Hindu mythology, Kundalini is a serpent goddess found coiled at the base of the spine. She is thought to have healing properties that increase well-being. The Yoga poses work to free this energy (deep core releasing), thus increasing your capacity to handle stress and illness. Unfortunately, Yoga practice has been linked to various forms of demonic oppression since Kundalini's effects can be unpleasant in the short and long term.

A Christian should flee Yoga practice and look to simple stretching and calisthenics. Heck, even a good walk or activities such as gardening can promote better health and stress management. BTW, I formerly practiced Yoga for many years before my conversion to Catholicism. I have seen firsthand the dangerous spiritual side effects of this religious practice — and it IS a religious practice. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."

Dialogue said...

My mind-body awareness is to pure that I'm presently contemplating in my mind what my body wants for lunch.

Catherine of Siena said...

I must add that I was introduced to Yoga practice at a Protestant church. It was termed "Christian Yoga", an impossibility. The religion, the deep core releasing, is inherent in the poses themselves.

Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

Lefebvrian said...

Jolly Jansenist -- I don't you who you are, but I think we could be friends!

Flavius Hesychius said...

I think it's amusing when Westerners feel the need to appropriate Eastern practices.

It's doubly amusing when Catholics, having stripped themselves of their own unique customs and culuture, after deeming them 'imperialist', should then behave as though they have the right to rip things from their proper contexts, in order to make-up for their own self-created emptiness.

And, no, Dialogue, it cannot be Christianised. Well, one could try, but the end result would be blasphemous to both Christians and Hindus.

Furthermore, the Sanskrit word 'yoga' (meaning 'total', or 'union') has a very specific meaning, one that disappears when used outside of a Hindu context**. In Hinduism*, the ultimate goal of creation is moksha— that is, to be freed of the cycle of life and death reunited with the Divine (no, this isn't called 'nirvana'—that's Buddhism).

Yoga, then, in a religious context, is any act towards that goal, whether it be puja (worship), prayer, meditation, sacrifice, etc. I believe certain Latin Fathers often use the Latin words 'opus' and 'labor' in a similar way.

The Western practice of pseudo-yoga is a bastardised form of it, devoid of any real purpose other than the current Western goal of 'feeling good'.

*I suppose I should add that the term 'Hinduism' is a Western invention.

**Buddhism did do this. The result, of course, was the eventual renaissance of Hinduism in India after the sages of the late 1st millennium BC restored yoga to its rightful place within a Hindu context (a result of Hinduism's reformation in response to the rise of Buddhism). A few centuries later Buddhism would be extinct in most of India.

(Yes, I am an amateur Indologist, in case that wasn't clear lol)

Anonymous said...

When I see a notice like this in a Catholic church bulletin, I know it's time to move on (to a different parish).

jolly jansenist said...

India…man, "sub" is no idle prefix when applied to that continent.

Anonymous 2 said...

I just looked up the Cathedral website. I see the announcement but no pictures of people sitting under trees or definitions from Wikipedia. Did I miss something? Perhaps one should first get all the relevant facts. For example, is this what they call “Christian Yoga”? Is it the same as what Catherine of Siena describes in her comment?

In the interests of full disclosure, I should explain that both my wife and our older daughter do Yoga. They are not Catholic but Episcopalian. So far I have noticed no ill effects only beneficial ones. One reason my wife does Yoga, or so she says (perhaps with tongue firmly in cheek), is that she looked at me and said to herself: “I don’t want to get like that.” =)

George said...

Yoga is a Hindu spiritual discipline or practice. Catholics should stay away from it and find another way to stretch and exercise.
Jolly Jansenist, Catherine of Siena and Flavius are all correct in their comments about this.

Paul said...

Yoga, schmoga.

I think this shows how much people pay attention to their faith versus how much they pay attention to their social club.

jolly jansenist said...

Yoga is great for self-absorbed libs and narcissists because it makes them limber so they can stick their heads up their own….well... you know... for deep self-examination.

Flavius Hesychius said...

A2, I am not qualified to say whether or not yoga is beneficial or harmful.

I am qualified, however, to ask what you mean by 'relevant facts'. Which would those be? As far as I'm concerned, the facts are that yoga is either being used in its proper context or it's not.

It's not the same as trading ideas or languages; it's more like gentiles adopting kashrut ('kosher') because it's 'healthier'. Or, in a more relevant comparison, like Westerners declaring themselves Buddhists simply because it's a non-Christian (but still religious) alternative to secular humanism, but without actually adopting any Buddhist tenets. It's completely disrespectful, as well as it misses the point entirely. Were people 'converting' (not necessarily the correct word in this context) to Hinduism and practising yoga, I'd not be opposed. But that is obviously not the case.

Perhaps I'm viewing it too narrowly, but really, Indian/Hindu spiritual practices aren't a commodity to be traded, bought, and sold. It smacks of imperialism.

Although... British imperialism did benefit India in major ways... which is more than I can say about middle class West-coast Americans.

(And, I don't mean to across as hostile. Sometimes I worry that postings on the internet come with filters not entirely manufactured by the author).

Flavius Hesychius said...


Yes, I think you and the Jansenist will get along very well.

Carol H. said...

I do not understand why a Catholic, or any other Christian, would want to participate in the religious practices of a pagan religion. Practicing yoga is no different than offering incense to the four corners of the earth. We cannot serve two masters.

Anonymous said...

Anthropology and theology are not separate realities. One is not, at this moment, engaged in anthropology and, at a different moment, engaged in theology.

Why is this so? Because Grace, a theological concept/reality, builds on nature, an anthropological concept/reality.

Greater self-awareness, one of the aims of the practice of yoga, can lead the practitioner to become more aware of his her strengths as well as weaknesses.

Yoga is hardly "hippy-dippy" in its origins or in its current practice.

Anonymous 2 said...


Your point about imperialism is an interesting one. I need to think some more about it but my initial reaction is as a student, and teacher, in the area of Comparative Law. As such, I am sensitive to the value of political communities learning from one another’s experience – about what to do as well as about what not to do. Indeed, I would say that a refusal to learn from others may itself be symptomatic of an arrogant imperialistic mindset that the rest of the world needs to learn from us and we have nothing to learn from them – a mindset that, regrettably, I find all too present in this country and one which is, in my view, a recipe for disaster.

This said, I am also sensitive to the importance of being very cautious before adopting an alien institution or practice, because a “transplant” may not flourish in a quite different context. It requires wisdom. It also requires good information. And I agree that even more caution may be warranted regarding religious institutions or practices. This also said, however, there is a long list of pagan elements that have been incorporated into Christianity, some of them quite central to the Faith. Many of them were controversial before they became orthodox. And at the root of the controversies was always, I have little doubt, some fear that these elements would compromise or corrupt the Faith.

This brings me to “relevant facts.” It is another lesson of comparative law that before one judges and evaluates one must first understand. So, surely, the first thing to do is to find out exactly just what is being planned for the Yoga workshop at the Cathedral. Father’s post, with the picture and the Wikipedia entry, makes it look as if it is the Eastern form of Yoga. But these items do not appear on the Cathedral website at all. I suspect it is probably a form of “Christian Yoga.” You and others may already know enough to regard this as an oxymoron. I do not and so wish to learn first before judging. Make sense?

Anonymous 2 said...


You should probably stop celebrating Christmas, then.

There is nothing objectionable about a non-Christian practice being followed, or a non-Christian idea being accepted, by a Christian, provided it can be “baptized” and approved by the Church, as has frequently happened in Church history.

I am sure the priests on the blog will correct me if I am wrong about this.

Lefebvrian said...

"Grace builds on nature" = Semi-pelagianism

Anonymous 2, can you think of any differences between Christmas and yoga?

jolly jansenist said...

Grace does not "build on" nature, as if God's will were predicated upon nature or upon some human determination. We say grace perfects nature because nature is totally dependent upon God's initiative and upon His sustaining will. Thus, anthropology will always be subordinate to theology as man will always be subordinate to God's initiative. God does not need nature nor does He need man. Both are His creations and radically subject to His will. Theology is as separate from anthropology as fallen man is separate from God…understood theologically, anthropology is a meaningless concept without it being predicated upon the Creator…upon His definitive act of Creation and redemption.

Self-awareness/self-realization is not salvation nor does it lead there. These are modern, humanistic terms based upon post-Enlightenment philosophy. It matters not how self-aware we are if we are not aware of God's will in us…if our wills are not attuned to His. The only self-awareness involved here is our awareness of ourselves as sinners and our need for repentance. This is a far cry from the encounter group, three-bong hit, inner epiphanies touted by Left Coast sociopath gurus or the crowd up at Chestnut Lode or the Carl Rogers center…stuff for bored middle class housewives and directionless college students with ego boundaries so fluid you could pour them through a sieve.

Carol H. said...

Anon 2

I celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas. I know it may not be the actual day that He was born, but since we do not know the exact day, it's as good a day as any.

I do not, however, worship the tree!

I hope in your pursuit of knowledge, you find what you are looking for.

Anonymous 2 said...

Carol: I was not just referring to the date. Is there something wrong with pursuing knowledge and understanding? Our Church is based on the marriage of Faith and Reason and it is quintessentially Catholic (but not so much Protestant) to pursue knowledge. The truth about something can never harm Faith because ours is a God of Truth. What is to be avoided is false knowledge and idol worship. But false knowledge and idolatry come in many, many forms.

Lefebvrian: Yes, of course, there are differences. There are differences between everything. The question is always: Are the differences material? Are there material differences, then, between incorporating the practices of Roman Saturnalia and other festivities or the ideas of pagan philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, on the one hand, and incorporating the relaxation/meditative techniques of yoga, on the other? If the Church condemns all forms of yoga, I will cease to suggest that some forms of it may be compatible with Christianity. Notice I say “may” because I do not actually “know.” Do you? Has the Church condemned all forms of yoga?

Flavius Hesychius said...


It says a lot about the West when the bastardised yoga discussed here is about 'self-realisation', and the original purpose of yoga (as I wrote earlier) is about discerning 'dharma' (loosely similar the concept of 'the Will of God') and reuniting with God as a result of acting in accordance therewith (Hinduism, despite Western claims to the contrary, is not really polytheistic; it's a somewhat diluted monotheism.).

Lefebvrian said...

Has the Church condemned all forms of yoga? First of all, I appreciate your clever use of the modifier "all" as a preemptive strike on any attempted response. Secondly, I am not aware that the post-conciliar Church has condemned anything, so it won't come as a shock to you that I am unable to supply a "gotcha" document from NewChurch. If you like, you can peruse this document, which might answer some of your questions. I confess that I did not read it in depth because I do not question whether yoga is compatible with the Catholic faith -- I am satisfied that it is not simply by virtue of its not being Catholic and not being part of the praxis of any saint of the Church ever.

As for the issue of Christmas, are the differences material? Of course they are. The date of Christmas was selected for no other reason than it was nine months from the already existent feast of the Annunciation. The date is not arbitrarily selected to coincide with some pagan festival.

As for the "pagan" philosophical underpinnings to some Christian theological thought, there is a world of difference between building on the thought of a philosophy that served as a precursor to our faith than co-opting the praxis of some eastern belief system, the praxis of which is integral to the beliefs themselves. Furthermore, there is a false deity (or more than one) involved in the Vedic beliefs, which is lacking from the philosophies in question. That is significant because we know that "all the gods of the Gentiles are devils: but the Lord made the heavens." Getting "in tune" with Vedic practice, such as yoga, is getting "in tune" with demons.

jolly jansenist said...

Flavius, you are right. Modern western culture is all about "ME." There is nothing left, given the break down of the family, the secular humanist assault on belief and the Church, collectivist propaganda attacking "individualism" in favor of pseudo-communities based upon brittle political ideologies, and technological distractions that focus us away from real relationships and meaningful interpersonal relations. So, we see increasingly solipsistic and bizarre expressions of a new kind of "radical individualism"…tattoos, piercings, purple hair, obsessions with "Goth" culture or demonology, cultic behavior, increased drug use, and a frightening nihilism that has gone mainstream in movies, TV, and so-called games.
For the less radical domestic crowd, we have such attractions as yoga, zen, Pilates, Crossfit, diet regimens of various kinds, diet supplements, and meaningless casual sexual trysts that prohibit the "L" word by consent and are based upon a mutual narcissism that, to all effects, denies the other in the "encounter." Hopelessness has gone so mainstream that it has almost been brand-named and sold over the counter. The Church has failed to address this in every way, offering feel-good theology in place of substance and trying to incorporate secular culture into its worship instead of standing in judgement of it through prophetic preaching and worship and an unambiguous condemnation of the government and culture that supports it. If ever there was a prophetic sixties movie, it was "The Graduate"…"the future is in plastics, son…" Watch it again…"Hello, Darkness, my old friend."

qwikness said...

The need to want to practice yoga or something of the sort is touching on something that people may want. I think people may want something more from a church than attending Mass and going to picnics, they are not getting the answers. They don't know how to ask the right question to find it. It might be right there in front of them but they don't have a guide or teacher so they look for weird stuff like yoga, Tai Chi, or Kabbalah. I think the answer is Catholic Mysticism. The monks and sisters have it but where is the lay people's spiritual guidance to lead us in forming in mysticism. We can read books if we knew what to look for or try it on our own if we knew how or if we're doing it right. Catholicism and the Orthodox have it, the Protestants don't. I think they're is laissez faire attitude about such things. Maybe a hope an individual will step up but no one is so people turn to what ever is offered. In the case cited, Yoga. And if the church is endorsing it, much less the Cathedral, then it must be OK.

Carol H. said...

This discussion tells me that it is the loss of reverence, and the loss of the sense of wonder and awe, that drives people to pagan practices in order to fill that void.

This shows why attention to detail in the liturgy is not a waste of time.

jolly jansenist said...

Qwikness, in this day and age, I would not count on a Church's endorsement of anything as meaning it is ok. All bets are now off regarding doctrine and practice until we see how current trends shape out. We are right on the cusp of another Babylonian Captivity of the Church.

Anonymous 2 said...

Lefebvrian: There is nothing clever about it. I am just trying to be careful in my thinking. Thus I assume there is a difference between (a) Eastern Yoga as a spiritual practice; (b) Christian Yoga; (c) Secular Yoga as a form of physical exercise only. Thank you for the link. I just did a quick scan and it looks quite helpful. I will read it more closely later. By the way I don’t do Yoga – I can’t physically anyway – I just want to get to the truth about it and how it is viewed officially by the Church. As for the post Vatican II Church not condemning anything, please check your facts. On Christmas, again I was not referring to the date. As for pagan philosophers, they were not precursors to the Faith until they were accepted as such. They were alien philosophies whose incorporation was very controversial: Does “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” ring any bells? Tertullian anyone? Thomas Aquinas?

Qwikness: Good point about Christian mysticism. Of course, this has also been questioned on this blog. Here again, the link provided by JJ will be helpful I think.

jolly jansenist said...

If you read Tertullian, it would appear that Athens has everything to do with Jerusalem…Tertullian drew heavily from Logos doctrine and Neo-Platonism and is considered a major contributor to Trinitarian doctrine and theology. Irony, anyone….

Anonymous said...

Grace does, indeed, build on nature. That is not a semi-Pelagian notion.

Were I to say, "Grace is predicated on nature" or "Grace relies on nature" or "Grace needs nature," then there would be a problem. As it is, Grace is not predicated on nature, Grace does not rely on nature, and Grace does not need nature.

Grace build on nature. The grace that comes to us through the sacraments comes via natural elements: spoken and written words, bread and wine that become the Body and Blood of Jesus, the laying on of hands, etc. Building on nature, grace is offered to us in ways we can understand and via means we can comprehend.

Grace builds on and perfects nature.

Anonymous 2 said...


It is my understanding that Tertullian posed the question and answered it mostly in the negative, as compared to say Clement of Alexandria. And I strongly suspect he would have been seriously troubled by Augustine and quite appalled by Thomas Aquinas. There seems to be a complete difference of emphasis and attitude towards pagan philosophers in Tertullian, Augustine, and Aquinas. Although not ideal, this is the best concise summary of their respective views I could find:

But I can understand why those who are puritanically intolerant towards “alien elements” or at best only grant them minimal and grudging acceptance would be attracted by Tertullian. It seems that this was how he was himself.

I invite correction by those who are thoroughly trained in the history of philosophy and theology.

George said...

Did Christmas replace a pagan holiday? An analysis of the historical record cast doubt on this.

There is no historical record for a celebration Natalis Sol Invictus on December 25 prior to A.D. 35. There was Saturnalia, which commemorated the winter solstice (December 22). That date does not coincide with the accepted date of Christmas, however. The date of December 25th became the “Birthday of the Unconquered Sun” under the Emperor Julian the Apostate. Julian the Apostate had been a Christian but who had apostatized and returned to Roman paganism. So he, in effect, replaced a pagan holiday with a Christian one Aurelian had introduced the cult of the Sol Invictus or Unconquered Sun to Rome in A.D. 274.
The name Aurelian derives from the Latin word aurora denoting “sunrise.” Coins of the time reveal that Emperor Aurelian called himself the Pontifex Solis or Pontiff of the Sun. Aurelian advantageously simply identified his name with a generic solar cult.
A good short book on this subject is God's Birthday by Taylor Marshall.

As far as “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” , the Church does not discount truth whatever the source, and does not deny that there is some truth outside of her. Truth is truth, wherever it is found, whether in science , philosophy or religion.

jolly jansenist said...

Anon 2, you are correct…Tertullian would have turned flips over Aquinas…Augustine might have, too. I was just pointing out the irony of Tertullian's sort of scoffing at Athens, then ending up as a purveyor of Logos doctrine. It was really hard to escape Greece back then.,..still is. I don't get too worked up about so-called pagan elements in the history of Christian thought and theology. The Fathers and those after them used the intellectual tools they had to try to understand the depths of God's Mystery. The Church has blessed this and given us a pretty good Magisterium based upon it.
All intellectual traditions use elements from other sources. I believe a lot of our US law comes from the Napoleanic Code…that probably freaks some people out.

Anonymous 2 said...

Carol: I agree. The way I tend to put it is that I believe our most fundamental problem in the West is metaphysical.

George: Thanks for the information. But again, I was not speaking of the date as much as other elements that Christians have incorporated into the Christmas celebration. If you Google “Pagan Elements in Christmas” you will see what I mean.

JJ: But presumably not Yoga flips (is there such a thing? It seems that there should be). =)

George said...


OK. However, there seems to be a much larger focus on the part of some to the "pagan" connection to the celebration of Christmas

Both Theophilus (A.D. 115-181), Catholic bishop of Caesarea in Palestine and Saint Hippolytus (A.D. 170-240) considered the birth of Christ as occurring on December 25. Church Fathers claimed December 25 as the Birthday of Christ PRIOR to the conversion of Constantine and the Roman Empire. There is evidence from historical tradition of a pagan origin for the Christmas tree. In other words, it was co-opted by Christians and incorporated into Christmas celebration. A tree is a creation of God. The pagans used it for their celebration, we use it for ours. This is different from yoga which is a creation of man and which was created and incorporated into a pagan religion.