A Catholic priest is telling the British House of Lords of the benefits of yoga to mark International Yoga Day 2018.
Fr Joe Pereira told AsiaNews that he has been practicing Iyengar Yoga for 50 years, adding that his Kripa Foundation has used it “to help in the rehabilitation of people with alcohol and drug problems.
“The Kripa Foundation offers an intense program of yoga and meditation designed especially for people who undergo treatments and recovery sessions [from drug addiction].”
The Indian priest says that yoga has “the power to help us get in touch with the true inner self and to transcend the world of Prakriti [physical matter] and of materialism and to operate from a level of awareness which brings us to our essential ‘uniqueness’.”
The practice of yoga is controversial in the Church. Prominent exorcist Fr Gabriele Amorth described it as “evil” because it encouraged people to practice eastern religions.
Fr Jeremy Davies, the official exorcist for the Westminster archdiocese, also warned against the practice: “Beware of any claims to mediate beneficial energies (e.g. Reiki)…any alternative therapy with its roots in Eastern religion… They are not harmless”.
However, Fr Pereira rejects the criticisms: “First of all, I have been practicing Iyengar Yoga for 50 years. After the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church has received elements of spirituality from the religions of the whole world. In my work with drug addicts, I have found that the answer to the thirst for love and God is fulfilled through the discipline of the body. With the body, as a temple of the spirit of God, everyone has a journey towards God within his own self “.