For the past year or so I have been on a journey of health and fitness. I looked at myself in the mirror one day and realized I was not treating my body with the level of respect it deserves, being a masterpiece of the Father, temple of the Holy Spirit, and worth the Son’s death on a cross. So I began watching what I eat and going to the gym regularly. I have definitely seen some improvements, and I think at the end of time, when I have to give my accounting for what I have done with God’s resources, I hope he finds me a good steward of my body. But this post isn’t really about my entire fitness story, it is about a relatively new aspect of my fitness journey: yoga. I know you are probably thinking, “Can Catholics do yoga?” Well I haven’t read anything that says no, I’ve checked the Scriptures, Catechism, and Vatican writings. I haven’t found anything that says a Catholic cannot do yoga. What I have found is a quote from Pope Francis saying that yoga, among other things, does not lead us to God. My question for that statement is, does my morning commute lead me to God?
It is my opinion, that you get what you put into things. If I spend my morning commute praying a Rosary, contemplating that days readings, or doing an examination of conscience, then I have just baptized my morning commute. I’ve turned it from something dead and uneventful, and turned it into a spiritual expression and devotion to God. In the same way, yoga practiced without Christ in one’s heart, is a waste of an hour. I use the word baptize purposefully. We are all dead to sin before we are baptized. But by God’s grace we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and then are able to draw into deeper relationship with our Father in Heaven. Does that mean we were not touched by God before we were baptized? No, all things in existence only exist because God allows it to. God is omnipotent and omnipresent, EVERYTHING is touched by God. We just have to find him.
That is a Catholic practice, finding God in all people and circumstances. Jesus tells us to love our neighbor and the Church teaches the way we do that is by seeing that our neighbor is also made in the image of God. The Church is against the death penalty no matter how heinous the crime, because who are we to deny someone the opportunity of repentance and reconciliation? Because of this, I baptize my yoga practice. Where Buddhist yogis use “om” as a mantra, being the sound that started the universe, I have “Jesus, I trust in you,” the words of St. Faustina. Where Hindu yogis meditate to clear their mind, I meditate to drill down on the great m
ysteries of our faith like the incarnation.
I never want to avoid something because someone says it isn’t from God, I’d rather find God in it. I love Harry Potter, sorcery is strongly against all Christian teachings. Yet I watch it because I find my Lord in a young man willing to sacrifice himself for the good of his friends. Rather than locking ourselves in our beautiful stained-glass towers, maybe we should see what other people are doing and show them how Christ has been trying to touch them through it. God is everywhere, including yoga, we just have to find him.