Do I need a password for yoga class?

Yesterday I got all worked up talking to the hubs about this article.  Basically, a Catholic bishop has requested that Patrick Kennedy stop receiving Holy Communion during Mass, based on his vocal support for abortion rights that conflict with the Church’s official teachings. This has caused a huge divide in the parish and among Catholics nationwide, with some believing that it’s up to an individual, not a religious official, to determine if someone is “Catholic” or not. Others, like Kay Willis (quoted in the article) are of the opinion that “If you’re going to be a Catholic, be a Catholic,” which apparently means that Kay is comfortable that every aspect of her life can hold up to the “Catholic” standard.

I was raised Catholic, so the Catholic church is a big part of the first 19 or so years of my life. And while On the Mat is not a political or religious space, I believe that the bishop is in the wrong here. I can see his point, but it’s my personal opinion that since he’s not God, he shouldn’t make God’s decisions for Him.

Anyway, I had all but forgotten about this issue, until I stumbled upon Sadie Nardini’s article on the Huffington Post today. Sadie writes about her support for, which strives to offer free yoga classes to veterans of war. After posting something about the organization on her facebook page, Sadie received a barrage of negative feedback:

“How do you reconcile this post with the fact that yogis are against ‘himsa’–or “violence”, as set forth by yogic scriptures, and your support of war is shockingly non-yogic”, one yoga practitioner wrote.

And there was more where that came from.

“Combat is inherently anti-Yoga”…
“Patanjali would never condone this…”
“War is wrong. How can you ask us to give yoga to those in alignment with it?”

Sadie offers a great defense to these attacks, and I encourage you to read her entire story.

I just have to wonder, when did our world become a grown-up version of an exclusive playground club? There is truth in the fact that the principles of yoga are founded on non-violence. But will I not be allowed in class tonight because I enjoy cheeseburgers? Is refusing a politician Communion going to make him vote pro-life? Is refusing a veteran a free yoga class going to erase what he or she did during combat?

As I learn more about myself and about the world, I realize that some decisions are deeply personal even when they might not seem so, and that what’s right for some people isn’t right for everyone. It might work for you to stay home when your children are young, it might work for your friend to balance duties as a mom with a demanding career. Neither is right and neither is wrong.

The best yoga classes I’ve been to had an atmosphere that was welcoming, friendly, light-hearted, and non-judgmental. If only I could find this environment in more places.



3 responses to “Do I need a password for yoga class?

  1. I went on a yoga and writing retreat a few years ago, shortly after I got seriously into yoga, and was having a great time, but felt kind of socially insecure, wondering what these friendly folks would think if they knew I didn’t share a lot of their new-agey beliefs and attitudes. So, I wrote something–basically an angry rant, with jokes–on that very subject, and shared it with everybody. And they cheered and told me how much they admired my honesty. That’s what yoga’s about to me.

  2. yep I agree with Dr. Jay- what I have found is that when you mix religion (and yoga can be a religion for some) then you get people who are extreme…. spirituality will do that for some.

    silly really- people against yoga for vets??? sigh.

  3. “How do you reconcile this post with the fact that yogis are against ‘himsa’–or “violence”, as set forth by yogic scriptures, and your support of war is shockingly non-yogic”, one yoga practitioner wrote.”

    I guess the commenters never read the Bhagavad Gita, eh?

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