Is Yoga ‘Incompatible with Catholic Faith’?

According to the Telegraph, Cori Withell’s Yoga classes, scheduled to take place in a Southampton Catholic Church, were cancelled by Fr John Chandler, because “Yoga is a Hindu spiritual exercise.” (No word yet on why the church cut Ms. Withell’s Pilates classes too.)

In light of this most recent lockdown we thought it only prudent to revisit the RD archives and dust off Andrea Jain’s popular piece, Is Downward Dog the Path to Hell?written in the wake of a warning from Southern Baptist heavy Al Mohler that: 

When Christians practice yoga, they must either deny the reality of what yoga represents or fail to see the contradictions between their Christian commitments and their embrace of yoga.

Of course Mohler sounds like a Unitarian Universalist compared to Mark Driscoll who’d said, just a few months earlier, that “yoga is demonic.” Yes, he did say exactly that.

In her piece, Jain writes:

Despite his ahistorical view of yoga, Mohler is right about two things. First, the question of whether or not Christians should practice yoga does betray something about our current cultural moment. For Mohler, that something is that conceptions of the body and self in yoga advance the development of a post-Christian United States, something we should fear. I would argue, however, that what we learn is not about ancient or classical Christian or yoga conceptions of the body and self, but rather about conceptions of the body and self that already dominate our contemporary cultural context.

Read the whole thing

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