A Catholic bishop has hit out at schools in Ireland that encourage yoga and ‘mindfulness’ as they are not Christian.
Bishop Cullinane wrote a letter to parish schools in Waterford that yoga is inappropriate ‘especially during religious education time’.
While yoga was not of ‘Christian origin’, he did accept that ‘mindfulness had been practiced by Christians ‘in a sense’ from the beginning.
However, he warned that the purpose of Christian mindfulness must be to focus the mind purely on Christ.
Bishop Cullinane wrote: “Christian mindfulness is not mindlessness but is meditation based on Christ, emptying the mind of everything unnecessary so that we become aware of the presence and love of Christ.”
He suggested that the schools should encourage children to ‘pray the rosary’ or to think about Jesus in ‘adoration or in quiet meditation’.
He went on to speak about Pope Francis who had made similar comments about yoga in 2015.
Pope Francis had said: “You can take a million courses in spirituality, a million courses in yoga, Zen and all these things but all of this will never be able to give you freedom.”
Waterford yoga instructor John Stokes disagreed with the bishop and said there are several benefits for children in practising yoga.
He told the Irish Times: “Yoga improves balance, strength, endurance, and aerobic capacity in children.
“They offer psychological benefits for children as well. A growing body of research has already shown that yoga can improve focus, memory, self-esteem, academic performance, and classroom behaviour, and can even reduce anxiety and stress in children.
“In an age where children are really suffering from anxiety and stress we should embrace practices like yoga, meditation and mindfulness.”
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Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling