An exorcist for the Catholic Church in Manila, Philippines has denounced the practice of yoga, warning parishioners that its meditative nature allows demons to enter a practitioner's mind and soul. The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported Saturday about Msgr. Jay Bandojo, a Catholic-ordained exorcist, who spoke against yoga during a talk at the Arzobispado de Manila in Intramuros.
Bandojo specifically warned against chanting, a common practice in yoga. According to him, this practice makes people susceptible to possessions, allowing demons to "take advantage" of a yoga practitioner's soul.
"When you practice yoga, you are told to 'empty your mind' while saying [the mantra] 'om,' so you can feel relaxed. But when you empty yourself, you're opening yourself to possession. You have to be careful because demons might take advantage of (this) empty [vessel of your soul] and possess it."
"As followers of Jesus Christ, we shouldn't be taking part in any activities that are in conflict with our faith. Therefore don't take any part in yoga classes, tai chi or reiki. Do not endanger your souls for the sake of such unsavoury activities."
Another one wrote, "Too much BS from the Catholic Church. Please stop. Mind your own scriptures."
Responding to O'Baoill's statements last July, yoga instructor Norah Graham says she was offended and "a bit surprised" by the priest's inflammatory remarks against yoga. She added that many of her students belonged to different religions and that their respective spiritual leanings did not play a part in their learning of yoga.
Many members of the Catholic clergy hold negative opinions about yoga, primarily due to its Hindu origins.
Yoga has been proven to bring about positive health benefits to its practitioners, including increased flexibility and strength, and more graceful aging. Yoga has also been observed to improve people's mental health and stability.
[Image from Yoga/Flickr]