Catholic College Bans “Yoga” To Protect Against “Hindu Mysticism”

Benedictine_College_seal-1Benedictine College has found a budding cell of Hindu mysticism in its small Catholic college in Atchison, Kansas.  The school has gotten rid of the “yoga” classes to avoid the taint of a Hindu association. A new course will be renamed as “lifestyle fitness” and involving “stretching” to sanitize the classes of exotic religious influence.

 College spokesman Stephen Johnson insisted that it is mainly a name change — though it leads then to the question of why the change is so needed if it is just avoiding the noun “yoga.”  However, there appears a plan to also end the use of positional names like “upward dog” that seem a bit to  . . . well . . . Hinduy.

A petition drive is pushing Benedictine President Stephen D. Minnis to reverse the embarrassing decision.  However, the school says that it was responding to objections from alumni, students, faculty and some administrators who felt that they were giving up their Christian identity in stretching out.  They apparently want greater flexibility but not that flexible.


The problem is that the objections appear to reflect the views of Minnis, who has cited the Archbishop Naumann. He is quoted as saying “Yoga as created has some potential for eastern mysticism which has caused concern among members of the Catholic Church . . . We asked ourselves if there was a way to bring those yoga benefits to our students and faculty without the possible effects of eastern mysticism.”

I do not do yoga but I fail to see the real “possible effects of eastern mysticism” or how they are avoided by renaming “upward dog” as “twisted stretch” or whatever they choose.  Millions of people do “yoga” and do not immediately seek out a local ashram.

The college in my view need a tad more . . .  flexibility.


46 thoughts on “Catholic College Bans “Yoga” To Protect Against “Hindu Mysticism””

  1. Cultures borrow/steal from others so much anthropologists have a word for it. Russia and Israel’s usurpation on east-asian martial arts comes to mind. Serious students will drift to yoga with or without its Hindu trappings. In 1982, Oregon went through Indian cult fraudsters who clashed with locals, committed wiretapping, poisonings, and other crimes. A bunch of Caucasian overeducated imported know-it-alla thought ‘osho’ was god on earth. They worked for near-nothing, dressed in lavender-red, and guarded his Rolls-Royce fleet with Uzi and Galil machine guns. Its fine if the school wants to deIndianize yoga. Its not like lord Shiva, the hare Krishna, or the blue elephant god are real.

  2. This sounds like a quote lifted from one of the Asian philosophers Sum Sai, He Hu, or We No.

  3. Darn all that proselytizing in the yoga studio! Just the mere act of chanting “Ohm” and ending with “Namaste” clearly has a religious overtone. I clearly recall a yogi telling me to reach the top of my quadriceps muscle to the ceiling and the bottom of that muscle to the floor, and thinking, this has got to be mysticism because that’s not physically possible. You might think you are dong Downward Dog and Warrior Pose, but you are really being transported to a monastery where your memory of the entire incident will be wiped upon your return. You will leave feeling refreshed and energized, and have absolutely no idea that it was really the result of brainwashing. Thank goodness yet another university is looking out for the best interests of its students.

    1. Thank goodness yet another university is looking out for the best interests of its students.

      It’s a Catholic college which takes its institutional mission seriously even if you’re incapable of it.

      1. Of course I can take things seriously. I’m suffering through Droughtlander as we speak, aren’t I?

        I disagree that there is any element of religious mysticism in how most yoga is practiced in this country. Merely repeating the names of the poses does not teach anything about the religion of Hinduism anymore than celebrating Halloween is participating in a pagan religious holiday of Samhain. To most of us, it’s just a fun costume party.

        1. And as a private university, they have the right to make any changes they like on the exercise programs offered.

          I just personally believe, as someone raised Catholic and with devout family members, that they are tilting at windmills. I suspect that those making this decision have never actually taken a yoga class.

          1. that they are tilting at windmills.

            You fancy Yoga is a cultural juggernaut?

            1. No, actually the opposite. Any aspect of religion has been removed from most yoga practiced here in the US.

              As I said, they have the right to do what they want. But I seriously doubt anyone involved in the decision making process has actually taken a yoga class.

    2. KarenS re: “you are really being transported to a monastery” Surely you mean ashram? =)

      1. Why yes, yes I do. Unless the yogis culturally appropriate the term “monastery” after we culturally appropriated yoga. The good yogis lose all inner peace when they see what passes for yoga in some studios.

    1. You’re asking the wrong question. The question you need to be asking is whether or not Yoga is consistent with Catholic formation and day-to-day disciplines.

        1. You’ll have to ask him. He makes the rule, and I’ve never been the least bit tempted by Yoga. The family member I know who is a Yoga aficionado is absolutely California New Age.

        2. Jay S – when I went to Creighton University, they had an atheist in their theology department, but they were Jesuits. They were big on recruiting (accepting) students from all over the world and of different religions. Two doors down from me in my dorm was a Navajo medicine man. The school built him a sandbox for his room to do sand paintings in. Now, the Benedictine are liturgists, they toe the line.

            1. It can be done without non-Catholic mysticism. In fact, it often is. Benedictine is just making it secular, like many yoga providers around the country have done. Indeed, many yoga participants are unaware of its mystic origins, so perhaps Benedictine is just being ridiculed for making sure that their yoga classes match the mainstream practice.

  4. There’s nothing ’embarrassing’ about this. It’s a Catholic college and it has certain boundaries in its curriculum, its labor relations, and its disciplinary practices. If you don’t like it, don’t send your kid there. What is the worth of academic libertarianism if you’re all this clueless?

    1. This goat yoga is exploding. Baby goats are preferred. Look for yoga to break out in every petting zoo across this country.

      1. When I saw a piece on the news about goat yoga the FIRST thing that came to my mind was, “Goats poop and pee.” Maybe getting a goat golden shower is a bonus for some. To each their own.

        1. Oh, God, I’m going to have to get to better WiFi and see this video. That sounds hilarious.

  5. Yes, we must ban Anusara Yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Bikram Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Jivamukti Yoga, Kripalu Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Prenatal Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Sivananda Yoga. Viniyoga Yoga, Vinyasa / Power Yoga, Yin Yoga, and Tantra Yoga.

    Although I must admit that I don’t understand the reasoning behind the ban, in this case, I applaud any authoritative efforts to ban Yoga in all of its forms. However, I think most here will appreciate my rationale for the ban, which is, essentially, the theory of the “forbidden fruit.” I believe that young people are attracted to things that “higher” authorities have forbidden or banned. Thus, when young people are told they’re too young to drink (but old enough to fight in wars), they want to drink to see what all the fuss is about. The same goes for marijuana. Now, if yoga in all of its forms were to be banned, more people of all ages would want to try it out, to “taste” of the “forbidden fruit.”

    I just hope that when yoga is banned that they merely speak of how evil, sinister, and santanic-like yoga is–and that they keep it a secret that yoga has been shown to improve flexibility, build muscle strength, improve posture, help prevent cartilage and joint breakdown, help to protect the spine, improve blood circulation, boost immunity, lower high blood pressure, improve outlook, improve balance, and too many other potential benefits to mention. I want them to think of yoga as a “bad” thing for you.

    1. If I am not mistaken my research years ago on yoga was that its positions were originally positions of Adoration to pagan Gods

      1. The October 22 2012 blog of women of grace explained this very well as yoga is not only positions of Adoration to 3000 Hindu gods but the stretching is for activating this pagan life force through ones body. It also references Fr Mitch Pachwas book on this subject

      2. The October 22 2012 blog of women of grace explained this very well as yoga is not only positions of Adoration to 3000 Hindu gods but the stretching is for activating this pagan life force through ones body. It also references Fr Mitch Pachwas book on this subject this is not a duplicate comment

        1. Sorry I did not know my second response was already public please disregard second response from women of grace

  6. Theocrats and fanatics everywhere are applauding this small minded action. It’s time for a end to religious entity tax exemptions as well as any provision of grant money or other financial support for religious entities or schools of any kind. It is also time to aN end any any religious privileges.

    1. What other philanthropies are you planning on bleeding for a bit of swag to cover the deficits in public employee pension funds?

      1. Interesting viewpoint. I’m sure you have some statistics to back up your assertion that Catholic philanthropies subsidize public employee pension funds.

        1. You’re a knucklehead. All tax revenue subsidizes pension funds which are not self-financing.

          That aside, what he wants is to seize retained income of specifically religious philanthropies and impose property taxes. The point of doing that is to wreck them, because he’s an aggressively hostile and destructive individual. This is not difficult to understand.

  7. I would have thought the attack on yoga was its source as sexual exercises.

  8. It’s fair, a Catholic entity has the right to be Catholic and not embrace what is defined by it’s own understandings as pagan.

  9. that is hilarious — yoga traditionally does embrace a form of spirituality. But in the US it has simply become a form of exercise much like aerobics or slimnastics or zumba. Sooo the “good” Catholics seek to remove the “taint”

    1. He’s working at U Berkeley under the pen name of George Lykoff. Be cognizant his position is funded by George Soros.

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