What is your Intention?
When I read the quote above I immediately think of Robin Hood. He stole from the rich to give to the poor. Same situation as Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables." He stole a loaf of bread to feed a child and devoted his life to doing good. Most of Pre-Vatican II Catholicism was governed strictly by law without due consideration of intention. Opening the Church to new understandings and outlooks has been noticeable since then, especially with Pope Francis leading traditional Catholicism into the modern world.
Catholics who have chosen to condemn yoga do so because of a statement released by Pope Francis in a 2015 homily: “You can follow a thousand catechism courses, a thousand spirituality courses, a thousand yoga or zen courses and all these things. But none of this will be able to give you the freedom as a child (of God). Only the Holy Spirit can prompt your heart to say ‘Father’” (Vatican Radio). The statement clearly says that yoga will not liberate you to the Holy Spirit, but the flaw to the assumption that he is condemning yoga is that the statement is also condemning Catechism and spirituality courses. The Catechism is one of the most important factors of the Church because it teaches Catholics what to believe as a whole.
The purpose of the statement was not to condemn anything, it was to recognize that the Holy Spirit is the only reason someone would turn to God. A writer for the National Catholic reporter wrote, “For me, as I do with any other religious practice from a tradition outside my own -- say, Jewish mourning practices or the Protestant practice of tithing -- I am able to incorporate what fits with my Catholicism, and leave the rest. Christians have been doing this for centuries” (Schlumpf par 16). This is how Catholics should practice anything really.
At the beginning of many yoga classes, whether prompted or not, yogis and yoginis will have an intention for the practice. When I mention this before teaching a class I will say, "If you would like to set an intention for today's practice, please do so. This can be for yourself, for another person or for a higher power." At the beginning of my practice I use the first few breaths to survey what is lacking in my day or week. Maybe this is the first time all day I've been able to acknowledge God. Maybe I have a heavy heart for a struggling friend. Maybe I need to humble myself and ask for God's help. Lately, I have been feeling pretty disconnected with my faith in the craziness of life so I simply repeat "Come Holy Spirit" or silently sing my favorite line ever "Holy Spirit you are welcome here."
As I move through the asanas, through the sun salutations, balance poses, backbends, I am opening my heart and body to God. My intent is to give Him time. Yoga is the one place I can clear my head completely to focus on moving, breathing and being. The intent of yoga from its roots was to give the body a chance to stretch and grow so that monks could sit still in meditation longer. My intent of the practice is to get to savasana to be alone with Him. Savasana, or resting pose, is the hardest pose because a practitioner is required to keep your body still and your mind empty. In savasana, you have to just be. I often say the Be Still prayer before fully immersing myself in savasana to remind myself why I am there in that moment. Savasana is a chance for me to focus on nothing else except being in God's holy presence. Here I am connecting my soul to Him.
Every action has an intention. Intentions can make a good thing bad or a bad thing good. When we are living with intent and purpose to live a life in His image, we are fulfilling His will in the best way that we can.
Peace and Namaste,