ATCHISON, KANSAS, April 5, 2017 (The Circuit): Benedictine College Administration just announced that the campus is no longer offering academic or recreational yoga classes after spring semester 2017. The decision was made in response to a growing number of concerns from students, alumni and faculty and by the request of Archbishop Joseph Naumann and Abbot James Albers.
"Yoga as created has some potential for eastern mysticism which has caused concern among members of the Catholic Church," said Stephen Minnis, president of the college. "[Archbishop Naumann] has expressed his concerns and the issues surrounding that. 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 and are currently investigating other alternatives." Starting in fall 2017, the college will be offering a "stretching and breathing" class called "Lifestyle Fitness" in replacement of what is traditionally called yoga. Minnis believes students are still hoping to reap the physical benefits of yoga and is currently searching for close alternatives.
"Throughout the country there is a huge increase in mental illness, anxiety and depression and Benedictine is not immune to that," Coordinator for Disability Services, Julie Romano said. "There are students who suffer from things that yoga could help with. I think it would have been beneficial to our students to have someone teach them these things [to help manage their mental health]." Romano has been practicing yoga for over ten years and feels it has been beneficial to every aspect of her life. She suggests that people are intelligent enough to make the decision for themselves whether or not yoga is a good fit.
For reference to Catholic doctrine discouraging "eastern methods of prayer," see:
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/con ... tazione-cristiana_en.html
"Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation" by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict