Yoga and Catholicism ~ A Dynamic Relationship

“Love is a fruit, in season at all times and within the reach of every hand.  Anyone may gather it and no limit is set.  Everyone can reach this love through meditation, the spirit of prayer, and sacrifice.”   ~ Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Welcome to the “Question and Response” page.  Sometimes the best way for me to approach huge concepts is to do so in small ways.  Specific questions help me articulate my experience and discover the beauty within.


How does yoga enhance your Catholic spirituality?


The ongoing practice of various aspects of yoga enhance my Catholic spirituality in many ways.  However, it is best to start at the beginning before discussing the present.   Thanks to this great question we’ll be able to jump back in time.  (We will have to return to the present through more specific inquiries.)

The most profound way the study of yoga has enhanced my Catholic spirituality is by consistently pointing me back to Christ.  Yoga philosophy and the sacred scriptures, housed mostly within the Hindu tradition, are absolutely brimming with beauty and with truth.  Upon discovering these wise teachings I thought at first I might feel pangs of jealousy wishing that my tradition held gems such as these, as well as waves of embarrassment at the fact that my tradition was poorly lacking, and perhaps even a pull to run to them, embracing them with abandon, forsaking all else.  On the contrary, the stories and sutras acted as a magnifying glass through which I was able to perceive the jewels hidden within Biblical Scripture and Catholic Doctrine but was unable to see before.  I felt appreciation and love for the foreign aphorisms, and peace and contentment knowing they existed in the Christian tradition.  Most interestingly, and most importantly, no matter how beautiful and true I felt the wisdom of these ancient texts to be, there was not a sense of a pathway to fullness.  They did not seem empty to me, by any means, but the fullness I desired just wasn’t there.

How can this be if, as I state earlier, “[they] are absolutely brimming”?  Indeed, they are wonderfully full.  For me, Christ is overflowing.  Christ is God-become-man whose mysteries will be revealed in the fullness of time.  And I’ve not found a love as humble as that anywhere else in the world.


How have you incorporated yoga into your Catholic spiritual practice?


Yoga is a practice our God has gifted me with.  In short, God has absolutely blessed me with Yoga.   It is a tool with which I am better able to practice meditative prayer.  The practice of yoga asana (postures), for me, lends itself to meditation and contemplation, and so when I practice, I do so in the spirit of prayer, being mindful of God’s everlasting presence.   I offer my yogic moving and breathing as a sacrificial prayer of love, praise, adoration, worship, thanksgiving, petition, repentance, depending on what’s happening in my own life and the world around me.  I even have the opportunity to abstain from my yoga asana practice as a sacrifice, in the spirit of prayerful fasting on behalf of a special petition.


How is it that you seem to balance your Catholicism and your yoga practice effortlessly?


There has been a lot of prayerful effort on my part, actually, a lot of asking, questioning, looking, and listening.  At this point in my journey I can say there is too much absence of good in the world to resist embracing the beautiful for fear of blasphemy, especially if that beautiful leads you closer to God, Christ, and his Holy Spirit.  I’m reminded of a Dorothy Day quote:  “You will know your vocation by the joy it brings you.  You will know.  You will know when it’s right.”  I feel great joy in my motherhood.  I feel great joy in my prayer life.  I felt a great joyfulness when I started writing at Love and Be Loved.  And when I decided to re-enter the yoga-teaching-world as “the catholic yogi,” I felt joyful and at ease.


How is teaching yoga like a vocation?


I feel that God just wants me to help.  That’s my vocation.  I’m not here to do big, amazing, superhuman things.  I’m just here to help people on their way, and be helped by them.  I would be no where without God, my family, my friends, and my yoga students.  I love knowing people are able to become healthy and stay healthy through their yoga practice.  When I see the smiles and the happiness after class, when I bump into people in the community and hear how yoga is helping them recover from an illness or injury, reduce or remove stress, avoid different medicines, become mindful and aware, or be nicer to their families, I’m humbled to be a part of the gift.  It is good to share the joy.


What most helps you find and maintain balance in your vocations?


Prayer and study.  It is necessary to stay in contact with God through prayer, which can be conversation, speaking and listening – though not necessarily in that order.  I should listen first and last and speak as little as possible.  I often fail at this.

It is also necessary to practice self-study and to read sacred scripture and texts.  If I am to know God and be known by God, I must know myself and know God’s teachings.  And so I try to do this, but again, I fall down all the time.

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because Christ is everywhere