A Catholic priest in Northern Ireland cautioned against practicing yoga and receiving Indian head massages, saying that those who take such risks with their “spiritual health” are opening themselves up to “Satan and the Fallen Angels.”
Father Roland Colhoun warned that those partaking in the ancient practice may be led into the “Kingdom of Darkness.”
“Pope Francis said ‘do not seek spiritual answers in yoga classes’. Yoga is certainly a risk. There’s the spiritual health risk,” he told the Derry Journal.
“When you take up those practices from other cultures, which are outside our Christian domain, you don’t know what you are opening yourself up to,” he added.
“The bad spirit can be communicated in a variety of ways. I’m not saying everyone gets it, or that it happens every time, and people may well be doing yoga harmlessly. But there‘s always a risk and that’s why the Pope mentioned it and that’s why we talk about that in terms of the danger of the new age movement and the danger of the occult today. That’s the fear.”
Prominent officials in the Catholic Church have expressed wariness about yoga in the past.
In 2011, the Vatican’s chief exorcist, Gabriele Amorth, said that yoga leads to a belief in Hinduism, and that “all eastern religions are based on a false belief in reincarnation”.
“Practicing yoga is Satanic, it leads to evil just like reading Harry Potter,” he told the Telegraph.
Even the late former Pope Benedict XVI cautioned Christians in 1989 against partaking in yoga, Zen and other forms of meditation, suggesting that they could “degenerate into a cult of the body.”
One Derry yoga instructor, however, defended the practice, telling the Belfast Telegraph that teaching yoga for 15 years has not stopped her from being a “good, practicing Catholic.” Evelyn Donnelly said that her yoga students come to classes to “learn good posture and breathing to help them with tension in their bodies and to help calm a busy mind.”
“In all the time I have been teaching, not one person has ever expressed an interest going deeper into the spiritual elements of yoga,” she added.