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Not too long ago, I balanced precariously on my pink yoga mat in a trendy Minneapolis yoga studio. With one leg crossed around one knee and my arms intertwined, I slowly bent to the left to hold the pose. Some yoga experience may have been required for this class, but it was clear that “some” experience meant more than my casual after-work yoga classes in my company’s cafeteria. I stared at the muted yellow wall ahead and with sweat glistening on my forehead, I debated unraveling myself from my awkward position and walking out the studio door. I didn’t, however, and left the class with a feeling of accomplishment. My body may have been in pain, but I pushed myself to try something new and that was something to be proud of.

I’m not a risk taker. Nine times out of ten I take the safe option, so signing up for this class by myself was a little daunting. As I grow into my later 20s, I’m recognizing my need to push, to challenge and to take risks. I purposely place myself in these types of situations to challenge my preference for the safe, the comfortable and the expected.

During my junior year of college, I followed a recommendation from my Mom to lector at Mass on campus. With a busy schedule and apprehension about the public speaking, I had avoided adding another commitment to my calendar, but I decided to attend the training and act not only on my Mom’s advice, but the Holy Spirit’s guidance. When I stood at the ambo to lector for the first time, peace washed over me. As I read the words of St. Paul, I made eye contact with several students in the pews. Paul’s words had never been as meaningful to me as they were in that moment, and that’s when I knew why I was led to take that risk.

These risks may appear trivial, but they pushed me to trust when I no longer had my security blanket wrapped tightly around me. Catholic singles do the same when they sign up for CatholicMatch, go on a first date or try something new solo. As we all know, few rewards can be attained when we’re stagnant and unchanging. It’s easy to become guarded in romantic relationships, pour ourselves into our jobs and refuse to try something new. Our security blankets can hinder the gentle push of the Holy Spirit leading us to the next adventure.

When we take risks, we display our trust in God. When we open our hearts and surrender all of our hopes and dreams to Him, He pushes us into situations that challenge us but ultimately reward us. The Holy Spirit is our guide in this life, and we can lean on this presence when facing any new experience.

I won’t be jumping out of an airplane anytime soon, but each and every day, I will be challenging myself to open my heart a little more to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and God’s holy protection.

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22 Comments

  1. Patrick-696751 September 17, 2013

    FYI: Yoga is not compatible with Catholicism, and should be avoided. Many of the yoga positions represent worship of false Hindu gods. and this is a sin against the First Commandment. The Vatican document, “Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life,” lists yoga as one of “the traditions that flow into New Age.” Even if you think you’re immune from falling into error (and nobody really is), you may be leading others astray who may not be so strong in their faith.

    • Dominic-981542 September 18, 2013

      Are you for real Patrick . . It is you who is leading Jessica astray . . no body can be guilty of worshiping false Hindu Gods by any kind of yoga positions of any kind nor does it mean they are weak in there faith.
      Catholicism Just like its founder Jesus Christ is above all that even if yoga is flowing into New Age . . . . take note.
      For any one person to be guilty of worshiping any think let alone false Gods can only come from our hearts and no other way.
      What we desire is what we worship , what we treasure is where our hearts will be.

  2. Diane-983850 September 17, 2013

    I moved to Ecuador from Florida where I used to be a lector in my church. Although I am not fluent in Spanish, I can read it fairly well. One Sunday just before Mass started I was asked to do the first reading. I knew at some point in time I would want to be a lector in Ecuador, but I didn’t think I was quite ready. The Holy Spirit thought otherwise and I thoroughly enjoyed it, as I did in the States. It’s true, one has to take that ‘leap of faith’ in life or we will never grow.

  3. Ann-69118 September 17, 2013

    We are all here to push ourselves to be the best we can be so it’s better to take a risk then resign yourself to a safe boring kind of life.

  4. Claude-532487 September 17, 2013

    Totally agree with Patrick-696751- above. Entering into Yoga is certainly ” challenging your preference for the safe, comfortable. and expected”. Problem though is once you are involved with these “spirits” which are not holy; it is devastating to your spiritual, emotional, and physical health. It is also extremely hard to return to a normal balanced state of mind and health. I would challenge any Catholic or Christian thinking yoga to be safe to read or listen to a few testimonies of those who have made the experience. The Spirit of the living God, living in the baptized Christian, is totally opposed to the spirits that are invited to indwell the body, soul , and mind in yoga (and all other New Age and pagan spiritualities), there develops an intense, constant combat within the soul, this alone is exhausting; but, there are also “voices” and “visions”….. Satan and his fallen angels are very real! The first effect of practicing yoga; will be the great difficulty, if not impossibility, to enter into Christian prayer.
    As a recommended alternative, try taking a Life in the Spirit Seminar with a solid Catholic group. That should satisfy anyone’s desire to stretch beyond the ” safe, comfortable, and expected ” but in a manner that will increase your Faith, Hope, and Charity and may even send you to places and situations you would never dream of–in the Name of Jesus and in His Love–to exercise in perfecting Charity.(and it won’t harm your health; in fact, “true” “life in the Spirit” is healthy, balanced natural living)
    Dear reader; may God love you and bless you a hundredfold.

    • Dominic-981542 September 18, 2013

      And i take it Claude that you have experience yoga to be claiming this . . I can a sure you any one person can do yoga for exercise and not be harmed by its founding spirits that are not real in the first place .
      Every thing we touch & have to deal with comes from a Pagan background . . with that kind of Wisdom you may as well throw away marriage and the wedding ring because it also is from Pagan ideals . . This way of thinking belongs to the Jehovah Witness way of understanding .

  5. Kim-773523 September 17, 2013

    I totally disagree with Claude and Patrick and think you are old fashioned and single minded in your views! Yoga can be very spiritual and give your mind the peace and time to pray while you are holding your pose. I do yoga often and believe me no voices and visions of satan come to me. I am overcome with peace and I believe able to do service to other people. As a Christian I don’t think you should challenge anyone as you are stereotyping that person based on one particular activity they may do.

  6. Linda-954866 September 17, 2013

    Patrick and Claude, I honestly think most women join yoga because its a relaxing sport. Thats it. Maybe some teachers push spiritual agenda because they are bit lost and confused. they are not making anyone denounce our Lord. As long as we are strong in our belief in God, walking into a room full of non believers might even be more productive to Gods mission for us in reaching out to the lost than just staying in a room with all believers. The act of sitting in a room and meditating is beautiful, god doesn’t judge us based on how we pray…as long as our thoughts are filled with him that’s in my understanding what matters. Otherwise why not forgo even college all together?

  7. Wendy-554927 September 17, 2013

    I can relate to every post on here because I’ve been on both sides of the yoga issue. I too once thought well meaning friends and a good (young) priest friend of mine were over reacting to my yoga participation. I didn’t feel my soul was in jeopardy, I was just getting in a good stretch workout. I wasn’t worshipping another god or practicing a different spirituality…just stretching. In fact, I even took measures to combat any introduction to yoga spirituality by praying and calling upon Jesus and the Holy Spirit during my workouts. Then it happened. I attended a new yoga class (can’t even remember what the class was called) but it seemed peaceful. Candles were lit around the perimeter of the room and lights were dimmed. The teacher seemed experienced and I was excited but cautious as the candles raised some sort of warning within me. Sure enough, half way through the class I wanted to bolt. I felt incredibly uncomfortable with the teachers poses (the snake-which struck me as particularly satanic- as she encouraged all of us to stick our tongues out and make a weird noise). It was a creepy experience and I should have run but I stayed for the whole class. There were other poses and breathing techniques, etc that just made me intensely uncomfortable. My innocuous yoga practice suddenly felt like something very different and it was something I definitley didn’t want to be involved with. Because the different yoga poses are actual worship positions that are directly related to the pagan spirituality. I no longer practice yoga. I had a hard time seeing this at first too but I was convicted in a big way. I would caution everyone involved with yoga to investigate on your own and ask God to show you what you need to learn about this practice. Johnette Benkovic (from EWTN) has a great book on the new age and she dives into the yoga debate. Praying for all of you that God reveals the truth to you. God bless you.

    • Dominic-981542 September 18, 2013

      What you experience there Wendy had nothing to do with Yoga but entered the wrong type of class & place . . like you said . . you went to a new place but didn’t remember what it was called.
      I know some one who went to the wrong Christian class and also became discouraged by Christianity just like what happened to you with yoga .

  8. Dominic-981542 September 18, 2013

    I agree with Jessica , Kim & Linda . . And I my self have never been to a yoga class .
    But i have lived in this pagan world now for 55 years to know better how to keep safe with Jesus while surrounded by so much evil .
    We trust a Church that has had and still do have priest who sexually abuse children who them selves have never been to any yoga class.
    The problems that are exhausting to our Christian prayer & faithfulness to God is our own inner Demons that we have to combat.

  9. Joseph-841276 September 18, 2013

    Remember the Snake like pose,
    What was in the garden?
    The pagan gods are demons.
    As far as yoga goes Catholics should not follow.
    Would one would think that a work out that had bowing, genuflecting and making the sign of the cross would be sold to Hindus?
    They would see it as prayer,
    Yes we have taken a lot of things from pagan culture.
    But worship should never be one of them.
    Thus we should never get pagan worship mixed with Catholic worship or our religion will look like Voodoo.

  10. Pat-5351 September 18, 2013

    You gotta love CM, as this is a great example of how you never know here what red herring everyone will start focusing on that is way off the main point of the writer’s thesis. Namaste to everyone… :)

    • Dan-410503 September 18, 2013

      Agreed, Pat. Can’t believe how off-topic the comments have gone while focusing on something that was used to illustrate her main point.

      That being said, it’s this same overreaction to Yoga that’s caused me great stress recently, so it was interesting to see it going on here. I’ve been advised by countless people to integrate this into my exercise routine, as it will be beneficial to a number of physical goals I need to accomplish, and then I have to see all this negativity.

      There are two sides to the issue, it’s true. Yoga has deep roots in ancient spiritual “non-Christian” practice. However, there are many classes and techniques that are under the heading of “Power Yoga” or similar names that focus purely on the physical and breathing aspects of the poses and exercise, without any spiritual influence whatsoever. In fact, this is truly what most “Americanized” yoga we have come to know.

      It’s this exact knee-jerk reaction to everything from Harry Potter to Yoga and everything in between that frustrates me to no end. I’m not saying to blindly accept everything available to us as good and worthy of our participation, but we could do ourselves well to stop looking for the evil around every corner, even making it up if none exists.

      Just my .02….

      Blessings to all!

    • Patrick-696751 September 18, 2013

      The writer expressed the necessity of taking risks in life, and one example she gave was attending a more advanced yoga class. I was pointing out the dangers in doing so, and the further people get into yoga and the new age the more dangerous it is to their soul. I’ve seen it happen, no one is immune no matter how strong they think they are in their faith. Not to mention that attending yoga classes can lead others astray as well, who may be much easier tempted. I’m sorry if you see this as a “red herring”, but I don’t think it should go unchallenged on a Catholic website. Especially by writers who are supposed to be representing the faith.

  11. Dominic-981542 September 18, 2013

    It pays to listen first . . people are doing yoga with a pure heart free from any worship of any kind . . the pagan Gods are invented . . not demons of any kind , not real . . worry about your own demons first before inventing them on others .
    If you go to yoga and your conscience is clear of any worship to false invented so called Gods . . .then you are safe.

  12. Joseph-841276 September 18, 2013

    “The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with demons…if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake…” (1 Cor.10:20,28). So idols and demons are effectively the same. Notice how Paul says they sacrificed “to demons (idols) and not to God” – the demons were not God, and as there is only one God, it follows that demons have no real power at all, they are not gods. The point is really driven home in 1 Cor.8:4
    (I found this on a web search)
    Look I am not here to tick people off, nor am I here to attack anyone, and nor am I like the Puritanical mind that does
    does the opposite Heresy Instead of false gods they make false devils.
    I am just here to point out the truth. That is to keep a weary eye on yoga
    “Have I become your enemy because I have told the truth?”

  13. Nicholas-976717 September 18, 2013

    Totally agreed Pat and Dan, well said.

  14. Sharon-942543 September 19, 2013

    Dominic

    FYI see what Vatican exorcist has to say on the subject of yoga http://www.cathdefender.com/is-yoga-demonic/

    Well done Patrick you are so right & anyone else who has posted the truth about yoga. (I didn’t have time to read all the comments posted). I have plenty of stories from other exorcist priests and from Marino Restrepo who was a yoga master and had an amazing conversion.

    Get yourself up to speed on this Dominic it’s extremely important to know about the dangers of new age practices. As practicing Catholics we have a duty to know what we’re talking about and not to lead others astray, new age is so subtle. I’m surprised at the write of this post that she does not know.

    • Dominic-981542 September 20, 2013

      Thank you for your care of advice Sharon , Your good intentions shows respect and so I want to share further I’m not disagreeing with you or Pat , . . its simple to see that people can do Yoga with out being guilty of practices of new age or in danger of demons.
      Not all priest who do exorcist are real either not all exorcist are for real . . . Do you know what a mystic is Sharon . . its some one who can understand the mysteries of things that cant be seen . . people get to caught up with reading books and agreeing to what the ability of there insight minds can accept simply because its written in a book but cant apply true wisdom to it . . . And there becomes a problem of in differences.
      I don’t think any one has intentions on Christianizing Yoga just like we cant Christianize football or tennis . . you will find all sports come from pagans , sinners . . that does not put any one in danger who follows it or plays them to be guilty of worship to demons of any kind.. . that is what I’m saying .

      But i will look into that information you advice me to
      God bless you always

  15. Sharon-942543 September 19, 2013

    One other point: you CANNOT Christianize yoga. It is impossible to separate the spiritual from the physical workout just ask any yogi or yoga master. There are some great writings on this on the net if you care to look. This is not a red herring more a necessity to save souls from new age, I have first hand experience.

  16. Michelle-50109 September 19, 2013

    WOW, just WOW. Yoga is NOT satanic unless you CHOOSE to practice it that way. I happen to practice it at my gym, and it is strictly for exercise, stress relief and spiritual meditation. Our instructors are even sensitive to the fact that some people may be wary for religious purposes and are very flexible with us. I choose the meditation sessions to pray and further concentrate on my relationship with God. It is during those peaceful, quiet moments that I am at my best and the most focused. Some of us who are easily distracted greatly benefit from this practice. For the record, I don’t recite any of the yoga words past namaste, which is merely a greeting.

    In any case, the author’s point here in even mentioning the class was to illustrate the point of taking a chance and challenging oneself to do things beyond the norm. Taking a class of any kind by oneself, especially knowing one is not as physically fit as the rest of the participants, is certainly brave!! I believe her point about taking that bravado to other parts of our lives, including our dating lives, to achieve greater results is a very perceptive observation. It leaves us far more open to His Will than if we cower in fear!

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