Hindu religious leaders have strongly criticised a Catholic spiritual teacher for encouraging her pupils to find God through yoga.
Winnie Young, 96, shown above with her teacher and one of the world’s leading yoga practioners, Yogacharya BKS Iyengar, claims to have spent most of her life teaching yoga.
The founder of a national yoga institute in 1975, Young said her institute practices Hatha yoga, which advocates controlled breathing to calm the body and cleanse the mind in an effort to achieve nirvana, an elevated mental state.
She questioned why people misunderstand yoga to be a religion. Read more
By Douglas Todd,
With its elegant, aging cathedrals spread out across the countryside, Roman Catholicism is
But with hundreds of stylish new studios opening up across Canadian cities, sometimes it seems as if Catholicism’s strongest new “competitor” is yoga.
Tension simmers between these traditions of the East and West, with polls suggesting each draws the support or interest of roughly 40 per cent of the Canadian population.
Yoga practitioners often dismiss Catholicism as a doctrinaire, uptight, hierarchical religion. Catholics often write off yoga as self-indulgent exercise — and, at worst, a heretical form of Hindu spirituality that could open practitioners to satanic forces.
By Professor Harry Sewlall, Department of English,
I find both Kamal Maharaj’s and Ashwin Trikamjee’s contention that yoga cannot be taught from any perspective except Hinduism quite absurd (Sunday Times Extra, March 30, 2008).
Yoga is a cultural practice and, like any other such practice, it can be appropriated by non-Hindus, as it has been for many years.
The first time I heard the name of BKS Iyenger, the famous yogi, was from a former colleague at Unisa. A PhD in English studies, she was a staunch follower of Iyenger’s teaching, yet she was also a devout Christian.
When I was about 25 years old and I was a novice in a Franciscan monastery, we had a monk who worked very hard, slept very little and was always so busy and one day I asked him “what is the secret of your health?”
“Yoga” he said “I practice Yoga”. I asked him to teach me and he lent me a book called “La Voie Du Silence” by Jean Dechanet ( a Benedictine monk) First Edition of this book, published in French, was in 1956.
I cannot speak to you about Yoga and Christianity without mentioning my gratitude to this French Catholic priest who, some 40 years ago gave not only me but many Christians a memorable introduction to Yoga. Up to today, his name is still known, his books are still in their libraries, in many a Catholic monastery and convent because of his rendering accessible the exercises and philosophy of Yoga to Christian contemplative minds. Read more
By Arthur Jones, National Catholic Reporter
This man, Bede Griffiths, is dangerous. That the Benedictine monk died at his Shantivanam (Forest of Peace) ashram in India in 1993 at the fine age of 86 does not alter the fact — except to the extent his death intensifies our understanding of our own situation.
Griffiths, this Hindu sannyasi (ascetic), a Catholic priest, elegant in his writing, in person charming, in death could too easily be diminished into icon-only status. His is a pleasing lithograph of shoulder-length flowing hair, neatly trimmed swami beard, handsome face, kindly if penetrating eyes bordered by haloes and swirling smoke of incense.
His writings belie the image. They are danger-daring prods, cautions, lures, inducements, challenges, barbs, warnings and reassurances from a man who found nature first, and through nature God, and through God Catholicism, and through Catholicism Benedictinism, and through the monastic life, Eastern mysticism. Read more