KOCHI: Amid confusion among Christian believers that certain poses in traditional yoga may be against the principles of Christianity, after the Syro Malabar Catholic Church's view to that effect, yoga gurus, including a Catholic nun who runs two yoga centres, say the Church's position is driven by its ''ignorance" and that yoga is "a way of life as well as science", and it is not a "subdivision of any religion".
Meanwhile, Syro Malabar Church spokesman Fr Jimmy Poochakkatt has clarified that the Church is not in any way rejecting yoga as an exercise for mental and physical health.
Sr Infant Tresa, a Catholic nun and a yoga master, says the Syro Malabar Church's observation on yoga is due to its lack of knowledge on the subject. Sr Tresa runs Nirmala Medical Yoga Centre in Muvattupuzha.
A report by Pala Bishop Joseph Kallarangattu, chairman of the Doctrinal Commission of the Church, which was uploaded on the website of the Eparchy of Mananthavady last week, said the theology of yoga does not go along with the beliefs of Christianity.
"As far as I know, the Church has not accepted the report. There are even bishops who practise yoga. The report by the Doctrinal Commission of the Church is mainly due to its lack of knowledge of yoga. I don't think those who prepared the report have practised yoga even for a week," she says.
Yoga guru S Rajendran of Sree Yogadarshan, Eroor here, says the ultimate goal of yoga is to raise the standard of living of the practitioner through heightening his level of consciousness; irrespective of the field he belongs to. "The greatest benefit of yoga is that regardless of the religion to which the yogi belongs, he/she can attain yogic goal effortlessly while continuing his/her religious beliefs," he says.
Sr Tresa says people from all faiths, including Christians, Hindus and Muslims, take part in her yoga classes, and it has helped them to come out of their mental and physical strains. "During meditation I tell them to meditate on the God they believe in," she says, explaining that people from all religious beliefs can practise yoga without compromising on their beliefs.
When contacted, Syro Malabar Church spokesman Fr Poochakkatt said the Church is not in anyway against yoga and its benefits on mental and physical health. "What the Doctrinal Commission report said is, believers should not consider yoga as something to achieve eternal bliss or as a way to reach out to God," he said. One such position is 'bhakti yoga', he said. Fr Poochakkatt also said several Christian priests and nuns practise yoga.