Recent expose of Bikram yoga founder prompts questions.
My kids have been to a Catholic vacation Bible school that had yoga. My high schoolers were in sports that had a class in yoga as part of their conditioning. (It’s not a part of the program any more, thanks to solid, Catholic influences.) I figured it was just the exercise part of yoga – no religion involved. Since they were not rising to the upper levels, I did not imagine their stretches were anything more than harmless exercise.
But recently I reconsidered this issue. In the future, I plan to gently but firmly protest such practices. I don’t like being a thorn in the side to anyone. However, I am willing to be a thorn for the One who wore a crown of thorns for us.
Yoga is an ancient pagan religion. There are many parts to it such as stretching and meditation but they are all connected. Therefore, even if we don’t consider the serpent, why is it okay to take a part of a pagan religion and sponsor it and even force participation of it in schools and sports? My contention is that even in a public school, forced participation falls under the definition of pushing and proselytizing children into a religion. Certainly in a Catholic school, a pagan religion – even a part of it – should not be required.
“For crying out loud,” the reply may be, “we’re just talking about some simple stretches and relaxed breathing techniques.” Well, fine. Then why not simply have stretching exercises? Yoga is a religion with different parts and levels to it. The stretching and meditation is just a part of it. I am raising my kids Catholic. They can learn about other religions, but practicing it goes beyond learning.
As Catholics, we should not be put on the defensive if we don’t want our children participating in an Eastern religion.
Patti Maguire Armstrongis a speaker, author, and was managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’ s best selling "Amazing Grace" series. Her latest books are Big Hearted Families and the popular children’s book series Dear God I Don’t Get It and Dear God, You Can’t Be Serious! (The 3rd book in the series will be released next spring.) This article was originally published on The Integrated Catholic Life is and reprinted here with kind permission.