Hindu leaders split over yoga for Christians

April 30, 2008 by  
Filed under Hinduism, Winnie Young

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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

Hindu critics of Christian Yoga misguided

April 6, 2008 by  
Filed under Hinduism

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By Professor Harry Sewlall, Department of English, University of Fort Hare

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.

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Anthony De Mello and Christian Yoga

demello1.jpgAnthony de Mello, SJ, was a famous Jesuit priest, psychotherapist and seminar leader who sought to fashion a “Christian spirituality in Eastern form.” Anyone interested in Christian Yoga should definitely check out his many books — especially his seminal and fascinating text, Sadhana: A Way to God.

He was born in Bombay in 1931 into a large Portuguese Catholic family whose ancestors were converted by the early Jesuit missionary St. Francis Xavier. He attended a Jesuit high school and joined the Society of Jesus in India in 1947. Following a typical Jesuit course of studies that included philosophy in Spain, theology in India and psychology in the U.S., De Mello was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1961. Read more