Hindus welcome Catholics to yoga

Hindus have welcomed Roman Catholics to yoga practice.

Holy Name Cathedral Parish (Roman Catholic) on Wabash Avenue in Chicago (USA) has launched weekly 75-minute yoga sessions every Wednesday at the Parish Center.

Its website says: “…yoga has evolved across the ages as a means of tuning the body for better communion with God through prayer and meditation. Join us as we explore the multiple spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice…Typical sessions will include an opening prayer, inspired movement & strengthening, and contemplative prayer to close.” It organized a Special Workshop on Ash Wednesday—“Holy Name Yoga-Based Prayer for Body & Spirit: Creating Your Home Practice”—with proceeds supporting weekly yoga program.

Instructors include Ali Niederkorn (who “has cultivated a daily home practice making yoga a part of her regular prayer” and offers “yoga classes encouraging yoga practice as a form of prayer and meditation”) and Dina Wolf (teaches a spiritually inspired vinyasa flow yoga class). Reverend Dan Mayall is Pastor of Holy Name Cathedral under Archdiocese of Chicago headed by Archbishop Cardinal Francis George.

Acclaimed Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that yoga (referred as “a living fossil”), whose traces went back to around 2,000 BCE to Indus Valley civilization, was one of the six systems of orthodox Hindu philosophy. Founded by Yajnavalkya around 800 BCE and codified in Yoga Sutra by Patanjali around 300 BCE, yoga was actually a mental and physical discipline by means of which the human-soul (jivatman) united with universal-soul (parmatman). Swami Vivekananda brought yoga to USA in 1893.

Rajan Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, further says that some sages have described yoga as the silencing of all mental transformations, which leads to the total realization of the Supreme Self. Some have used yoga attempting to gain liberation by removing all sensory barriers. According to Patanjali, yoga is a methodical effort to attain perfection, through the control of the different elements of human nature, physical and psychical. Yoga is based on an eightfold path to direct the practitioner from awareness of the external world to a focus on the inner. Ancient Hindu scriptures Upanishads were the first yoga writings and Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord), which is a comprehensive yoga-sastra (treatise on yoga), talks about karma yoga, jnana yoga and bhakti yoga.