Asanas and Catholic Aerobics

The asanas, the third limb of Ashtanga, is the most familiar to our Western culture. An asana is a yoga posture. Many people focus on the exercise portion of yoga because everyone wants to try the newest fitness fad. This also constitutes one of the defenses for Catholics practicing yoga. If a Catholic practices yoga just for the poses, then that is ok. But the asanas are only one portion of the eight limb yoga practice. Naturally a yogi cannot just stop here. Movements and gestures are essential in yoga and Catholicism as well. Using yoga as a prayer to God can help the physicality and spirituality of a Catholic practitioner. This would fall under the fifth type of prayer defined in the Ca

The Niyamas and the Ten Commandments

Something may seem familiar. Both the yamas and niyamas relate to one of the Ten Commandments. The niyamas are how we should treat ourselves. The five niyamas are: isvara pranidhana, saucha, svadhyaya, tapas, and samtosa. The First Commandment is “I am the Lord your God you shall not have strange gods before me” which relates to isvara pranidhana meaning “surrender to God.” In surrendering to God, an individual denounces all other beings. These other beings can be other gods but also includes the idolatry of the perfect person. We cannot become focused on our outward appearance and lose sight on the cookie cutter image that our society wants us to be. We must surrender everything to God, our

The Yamas and the Ten Commandments

Many spiritualities have guidelines or rules to help the believer live their fullest life. Catholicism and yoga are no different. Both the yamas and the niyamas of ashtanga mirror the Ten Commandments sharply. We will begin with the first limb of the eight limb yoga, the yamas. The yamas explain how we should treat the world. The yamas are: ahimsa, brahmacharya, asteya, satya, and aparigraha. We can understand the definition of each by viewing them through the lens of the last six of the Ten Commandments. The Fifth Commandment, “You shall not kill” relates to ahimsa meaning “non-violence.” Clearly if one is not being violent against another, then that one certainly does not have the capacity

Introducing Ashtanga

Let’s add some depth! Over the next eight weeks, we’ll focus on the deeper philosophical discussions between Catholicism and yoga. In particular, the eight limbs of yoga and how they relate to the Catholic faith. I would like to note first that yoga philosophies are not the same as Catholic philosophies, but they mirror each other. We can use yogic philosophies to enhance our Catholic faith without replacing it. Ashtanga is the eight limbs of yoga derived from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. These eight disciplines are meant to create a healing, relaxing effect on the body. Patanjali saw the aspects of yoga as limbs of a tree. Each limb grows at its own pace, but the limbs can only grow when the tr