Yoga, tai chi, and other low-impact "spiritual"-associated routines
#1
I am wondering whether anybody here does any of these kinds of excersices. I am thinking I would like to get moving more, for balance, flexibility, strength, etc, but I am not big on cardio - actually the #1 reason is for flexibility, so yoga or tai chi sort of appeal to me. However, whenever I look up centres for these routines in my area, the mission statement often contains some wishy-washy and/or questionable claims about spiritual wellness, etc. I would probably just choose to ignore it if possible - I'm just there for the physical benefits - but I am wondering whether any other Catholics successfully engage in these excersices, whether teachers are always very "spiritual" or whether it depends, that kind of thing. Thanks!
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#2
(02-12-2010, 07:35 PM)elizabee Wrote: I am wondering whether anybody here does any of these kinds of excersices. I am thinking I would like to get moving more, for balance, flexibility, strength, etc, but I am not big on cardio - actually the #1 reason is for flexibility, so yoga or tai chi sort of appeal to me. However, whenever I look up centres for these routines in my area, the mission statement often contains some wishy-washy and/or questionable claims about spiritual wellness, etc. I would probably just choose to ignore it if possible - I'm just there for the physical benefits - but I am wondering whether any other Catholics successfully engage in these excersices, whether teachers are always very "spiritual" or whether it depends, that kind of thing. Thanks!

I have done both yoga and tai chi, but not since becoming involved in traditional Catholicism.  The amount of Eastern spirituality varies a lot from teacher to teacher.  I've been in classes where there was none.  But you should look into Pilates.  That is the kind of exercise you want with none of the spirituality baggage.  It was developed as a physical exercise and is about physical health benefits.
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#3
Hmm thanks for the advice! I was hoping to find something that would be easy to do at home if I decide I can't afford a class; is Pilates easy-ish to pick up? Do you reccomend a video or anything? What kind of equipment would one need?
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#4
I've seen lots of Pilates available on video and a lot of it can be done with no more than an exercise mat.  I think that most videos say on the cover what level they are and what equipment you need.  It was first developed for use in physical therapy so it can be done at a very easy level, but the the amount of challenge can be increased as people progress.  Just get something for beginners and you should be fine.  Your public library may have some videos that you could try out to see if you like it before you buy anything.

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#5
I've had some yoga teachers who wanted to be swamis, and some who were just into it for the fitness.  The ones who annoy me the most are those who are always trying to sell you something.  Generally speaking, most yoga classes offered at gyms don't include a lot of the spiritual stuff.  I just called and said, "Hi, I want to take some yoga classes, but I don't want to join a cult.  Is this the right place?"    Most places let you try one class for free, so this is a good way of finding a place where you'll be comfortable.
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#6
I've never really researched it, but on a couple of occasions, I've read that yoga (as we tend to think of it) is really a relatively modern, Anglo-Indian phenomenon that has as much to do with fitness regimens practiced in British schools and the army in the 19th century as it does with any ancient texts. I've been to India, and I can tell you the average, contemporary Indian is about as enthusiastic about any yoga that involves a real workout as the average American is in eating raw whale blubber and living in an igloo. The physical activity Indians like most is cricket. I don't think I saw an empty spot of turf in any populated part of the country where there wasn't a pick-up cricket game going on.  What Indians call yoga is mainly stationary breathing exercises and perhaps a little deep-knee bending or toe-touching. Anyway, the lip service to Hinduism you'll get from some yoga teachers elsewhere is just pretension and/or shrewd marketing. Laugh inwardly and tune it out.
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#7
(02-12-2010, 07:35 PM)elizabee Wrote: I am wondering whether anybody here does any of these kinds of excersices. I am thinking I would like to get moving more, for balance, flexibility, strength, etc, but I am not big on cardio - actually the #1 reason is for flexibility, so yoga or tai chi sort of appeal to me. However, whenever I look up centres for these routines in my area, the mission statement often contains some wishy-washy and/or questionable claims about spiritual wellness, etc. I would probably just choose to ignore it if possible - I'm just there for the physical benefits - but I am wondering whether any other Catholics successfully engage in these excersices, whether teachers are always very "spiritual" or whether it depends, that kind of thing. Thanks!

It depends.

However, such routines are often mistaken. They follow a weird tradition, without sense.

You'd be better off finding a purely fitness oriented place. Something like "Power Yoga" sees yoga as only a system for exercise and will forsake anything and add anything as needed by the goals.

And yes, modern yoga has relatively little to do with the real religious practices.
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#8
Hmm Power Yoga eh? I'll look into that, thanks!
I appreciate the contextualizing of the "religious" element in yoga, but my hesitation doesn't come from an impression of Indians all loving Hindu breathing whatever. I am getting the hesitation more from online yoga centre sites that describe what they are about, etc. For example, a quick google search yields this: http://www.yogaspace.com/classes/pregnancy.html It's hard to tell from this website how much of it is about the physical exercise and how much is about "yoga as a path". But now I will inquire about free trials and power yoga, so thanks to all!
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#9
Tai Chi was invented for war. It is a "martial" art, emphasis on the martial. Anyone who is teaching it as a form of eastern meditation or pseudo-physical therapy is not a master of it but a fool.
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#10
(02-16-2010, 12:05 AM)WanderingPenitent Wrote: Tai Chi was invented for war. It is a "martial" art, emphasis on the martial. Anyone who is teaching it as a form of eastern meditation or pseudo-physical therapy is not a master of it but a fool.

Nevertheless, it is common to find Tai Chi instruction (especially when called Taoist Tai Chi) associated with Eastern spirituality.  Elizabee is quite right to be cautious.
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