TA writes: “ There are few Catholic Church promote Holy Yoga teaching in their workshop/seminar/teaching. From what I know, Holy Yoga is a part of New Age. Please help us understand more about Holy Yoga.”
Holy Yoga is the brainchild of Brooke Boon, one of several people who admit to being influenced by the theologically flawed work of Nancy Roth, author of An Invitation to Christian Yoga (Seabury Books, 1989), who started the Christian yoga fad years ago. Roth, an episcopal priest with “an ecumenical ministry in spirituality” believed there needed to be a “new Christian asceticism that respected the integration of body and mind and reflected both the newest research in psychology and physiology and the wisdom of other, even more ancient, spiritual traditions.” Her attempt to fill this perceived need is what became known as Christian yoga.
In a series of articles entitled, “The Yoga Boon: A Call for Christian Discernment” by Elliott Miller of the Christian Research Institute, Roth’s misguided theology laid the foundation for the growth of so-called Christian yoga in the U.S. and greatly influenced two more recent authors such as Susan Bordenkircher’s Yoga for Christians (2006) and Brooke Boon’s Holy Yoga, (2007).
It’s not surprising,then, that Boon’s writings should also contain theological flaws. As Miller explains, Boon’s work is riddled with problematic ideas about both yoga and Christianity.
For instance, knowledge of one’s true self is the ultimate goal of classical yoga, but has never been the goal of Christian spirituality. In order to “baptize” this major difference, Boon reconstructs the yogic goal of “acquiring the deepest knowledge of oneself” to “acquiring the deepest knowledge of oneself in Christ” and thinks she has fixed this problem.
However, as Miller points out, “Adding Christ into the equation does not make the pursuit of self-knowledge in ‘Holy Yoga’ any more of a Christian practice than adding sprouts to a greasy hamburger makes it health food.”
Boon also writes: “God calls us to be bold in our walks but reminds us that we are strengthened most when we surrender. Manifesting that principle in our bodies through the physical postures helps us to manifest it in our spiritual and emotional bodies as well.”
As Miller points out, “the idea that human beings have additional bodies besides the physical is foreign to Christianity (the soul is not a ‘body’), but an important feature in yoga as well as Western occult theory. If you doubt this, simply type ’emotional body spiritual body’ into the Google search engine on the Internet. Every result will pertain to yoga or occultism.”
Saying that we can Christianize yoga is, in a sense, saying that we can Christianize Hinduism. This is what’s known as syncretism – an attempt to combine two incompatible philosophies.
Not surprisingly, Hindus agree. Sannyasin Arumugaswami, managing editor of Hinduism Today, offered the following astute observations to the Knight Ridder News Service that proponents of Christian yoga should take to heart: “Hinduism is the soul of yoga based as it is on Hindu Scripture and developed by Hindu sages. Yoga opens up new and more refined states of mind, and to understand them one needs to believe in and understand the Hindu way of looking at God….A Christian trying to adapt these practices will likely disrupt their own Christian beliefs.”
Sadly, poorly catechized Catholics and Christians are becoming involved in these yoga classes thinking everything is okay because the organization sells t-shirts that say “Jesus is my guru” and plays Christian background music during class. They do not have the training to spot the flawed theology that underlies these programs. Even worse, the instructors and even Boon herself, doesn’t either!
Stay away from Holy Yoga. If you want to deepen your relationship with Christ, spend some time sitting in the Presence of the Living God in your local adoration chapel. Do it once a week for one hour for at least three consecutive months, asking God to help you fulfill His most holy will for your life, and see what happens to your desire to pose your body in positions of worship to Hindu gods. Call it Holy Yoga vs. the Holy Eucharist.
Guess which one will win.
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