The Kundalini Process: A Christian Understanding
Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality
- by Philip St. Romain
Paperback and digital editions
I have attended a Hatha-yoga class for years--and have found it to be very helpful to me: It help's me to relax physically; and it helps me to relax my mind. Recently, however my prayer group leader stated that yoga is a "new age" religion--that is related to the occult and the demonic. Is this true? Does the Catholic church have an official position on yoga?
A monastery offering yoga classes.
A more conservative view.
It may take awhile for us to sort out all of the non-productive and unworthy elements of the practice, but since the publication of Yoga for Christians in 1958, it seems that Christian yoga is here
to stay. There are some internet discussion forums
popping up for Christians interested in yoga:
If it ain't broke, no need to fix it. On the other hand, some people have horror stories relating to New Age practices. God bless you, Jay, and
mm <*))))>< [/LIST]
A couple of questions I'd ask if I were in your position:
1) Does Yoga effect your relationship to Christ and your Christian faith? If so, how? Positively or negatively?
2)Is your group leader familar with the scientifically proven health benefits of Hatha Yoga? If so, can a heathy or more relaxed body equal a closer relationship to Christ?
3)If Yoga is occult and demonic because your group leader is misinformed about it, could you educate him/her by showing him/her scientific studies on the practice? (See medline for articles).
4) Do you notice any Kundalini symptoms when practicing Hatha Yoga? What is your view on this energy? How does Hatha Yoga rebalance the energies in the body and prepare the body for a deeper relationship with Christ?
5) Is your group leader living in a medieval framework of thinking? Is he/she open minded, capeable of listening to other opinions? If so, could you question him/her?
6)Can there ever be a completely insular form of religion in our day and age. This doesn't mean making a new religion, or practicing New Age...but being open to other practices as long as they don't interfere with your relationship to your religion.
7) Could you arrange to teach your prayer group, or even open a discussion on Hatha Yoga?
-Hatha Yoga, unlike Kriya Yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhatkti Yoga or Jnana Yoga is not a religion. The Vedic seers invented this when they noticed that their body went into different postures (asanas) spontaneously in their meditation. Most people do not have the openess to experience spontaneous kriyas, but I'm certain that in your prayer life you've felt movements of your body as the body readjusts to new flows and whatnot. Is this also demonic, or occult? Is "occult" an evil thing? Many people would say that St. Teresa's experiences and miracles and Christ's ability to walk on water were occult powers. Could this be discussed in your group?
I practised hatha yoga for a while after a Kundalini awakening. It opened up chakras and threw my energy into complete turmoil, linking me to "hidden" or "occult" forces that were definitely not very pleasant. This is just my experience but I feel people need to be educated about the subtle body, kundalini and different energy systems before they practise yoga. It's not just a form of healthy, relaxing exercise but a metaphysical system that can have complications for practitioners who are ignorant of the powerful energies it can unleash.
The difference between occult powers and the miracles and experiences of Christ and Teresa that Asher mentions is that occult powers involve the manipulation of these various energy systems, sometimes in connection with another, hidden spirit(demonic) power, other times not, but nonetheless a manipulation of created energy; whereas Christ's power Divine and, like the miracles practised by His followers, was inspired by the Holy Spirit. There source was God and involved faith as opposed to conscious wilful manipulation.
I see no problem with practicing simple yoga asanas in the interst of exercise and keeping the body toned. It's just stretching the body, and that's usually how it's taught at places like the YMCA, where there's no question of anyone trying to sneak some kind of Hinduism in. When it's taught by a guru as part of initiation into kundalini process and Hindu spirituality, that's another matter. But in the context of Christian spirituality, it can be a beautiful way to mindfully bring the body into one's spiritual practice. As with all things, one should pay attention to its consequences, and stay away from exercises that stir things up too much. I would especially caution against prolonged periods of pranayama. Asher's questions are good ones to consider for discerning how far to go.
I prayer group leader got lould and cut me off when I tryed to discuss the yoga question with her. She referred me to director of the chrimatic renewal for our area--who she assured me is vehamently apposed to yoga. I'm not up to confronting the area director. Thank's everyone for your responses.
What does pranayama mean?
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