Yoga and Christianity: a difference in spirituality

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In 2016, over 36.7 million Americans practiced yoga, spending well over $16 billion dollars on yoga products such as mats and other accessories. But in the midst of this ever-popular form of exercise there have been some voiced concerns from the Catholic Church. 

Pope Francis has been quoted during a daily homily in Casa Santa Marta saying, 'You can follow thousands of catechism courses, thousands of spirituality courses, thousands of yoga or zen courses and all these things. But none of this will be able to give you the freedom as a child (of God).� He said only the Holy Spirit can provide the peace sought through this form of meditation.

Institute of Spirituality, Pontifical Gregorian University 
'Today many speak of spirituality, but in a very different way. Many people do not really understand what spirituality means. Each has his own concept. By this, a spirituality only considered  on its own....regards only one person. In fact, it does not help community life. They live their spirituality on their own, individually, and each considers his or her spirituality the right one, the true one.â?

Fr. Witwer is the director of the Institute of Spirituality at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and he went on to say that Christian faith is a relationship with Jesus Christ and thus with others. This form of spirituality is an act of trust and faith that transcends into every part of life and into every action done throughout the day. 

Institute of Spirituality, Pontifical Gregorian University 
'It is necessary to live an incarnate spirituality, an incarnate faith, in the Church, where also the body has always been considered important. Spirituality does not mean all bodily things. For example, in the Church, it is very important to genuflect, stand up or sit down. Each gesture has a different meaning. What I do with my body, or how I position my hands for praying, like this or that, has a different significance.�

Thus, he said yoga itself is not bad, but the intention needs to be for good and to help one's Christian spiritual life advance both in the relationship with God and in the relationships with others. 

Institute of Spirituality, Pontifical Gregorian University 
'It can help, but it is very important to see all of these positions as means, not the end, not the aperitif, but the goal. Therefore it is necessary always to choose that which can help you. I must assume the position that will help me attain the goal for which I am striving.�

Thus, the body position a Christian assumes when either praying or meditating should help them and be used as a tool to become closer with God and others, not only with themselves. 


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