Monday, May 30, 2011

Yoga, Ephesians, and Getting a Grip

My household has a Wii. Part of it belongs to #3 daughter, but we all use it now and then.

My wife, for example, uses the Wii Fit program for a series of exercises most mornings. One of the routines is a set of yoga exercises.

I could, taking my position as head of the household seriously, throw the Wii Fit DVD in a fire, smash the Wii, and forbid my wife ever to exercise again without my permission.

I could: but I think that would be a stupid thing to do. I've discussed Ephesians 5:21-30 before, by the way. (February 17, 20111)

Or I could, taking my position as head of the household seriously, see if there's a problem with regular exercise.

Is Regular Exercise Okay?

To begin with, the Church doesn't think that the physical world is evil, a product of the fall. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 285) That, in my opinion, at least hints that we shouldn't regard our bodies as something to ignore or neglect because they're not 'spiritual.'

There's that instruction to "heal the sick" (Catechism, 1509), so it looks like being sick isn't necessary for a Catholic - or desirable. The importance of maintaining good health is implied, at least, in the political community's duty to honor the family. (Catechism, 2211)

Since common sense seems to say that exercise - done regularly and in moderation - is good for a person's health, and that being healthy is not against Catholic teaching: My guess is that regular, moderate, exercise is something that a practicing Catholic may do.

Yoga - Definition Time

I think it's a good idea to know what words mean. Here's what a dictionary has to say about yoga:
  • Yoga
    1. Discipline aimed at training the consciousness for a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility that is achieved through the three paths of actions and knowledge and devotion
    2. A system of physical, breathing and meditation exercises practiced to promote control of the body and mind
    (Princeton's WordNet)

Sometimes "Yoga" isn't "Yoga"

Yoga, with definition #1 in mind, isn't, in my considered opinion, a good idea. It seems to fall under the heading of "Erroneous Ways of Praying" that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote about, back in 1989.2

That's not what my wife is doing. Not even close.

"Yoga," as "a system of physical, breathing and meditation exercises practiced to promote control of the body and mind," is pretty close to what's on the Wii Fit's set of routines. The physical and breathing part, anyway. I suppose someone could cobble together an argument that any routine is a sort of meditation - but I'm not going to try.

Looks like I don't need to destroy that DVD.

"Yoga," Words, and Getting a Grip

Why explain my reasons for not having a fit because my wife does stretching and breathing exercises? I've run into folks who assert that yoga is bad: and something that Catholics shouldn't do. They're right, sort of, but often don't explain what they mean by "yoga."

That, I think, isn't a good idea. Particularly when someone who knows about yoga as a set of stretching exercises hears "the Church forbids yoga." The idea could register as 'proof' that Catholic faith is for folks who aren't reasonable - or particularly healthy.

Not, perhaps, the best message.

Then there's "meditation," which is something that I'm supposed to do, if possible, on Sunday. (Catechism, 2186) And that's another topic.

Slightly-related posts:

1 Here's the usual disclaimer: I've got the full authority of "some guy with a blog." I don't speak for the Church. I do, however, try to be an informed layman who follows the teachings of the Bible, Tradition, and the Magisterium.

2 See

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.