Catholic bishop warns against children doing yoga, suggests they 'pray the Rosary' instead

An Irish Catholic bishop has reportedly penned a letter to schools across his district, warning against teaching children yoga as it's "not of Christan origin".

According to the Irish Times, Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan also cautioned against practising mindfulness in the letter, sent to schools within his diocese on October 10. 

He reportedly instead asked teachers to encourage children to "pray the Rosary".

"Christian mindfulness is not mindlessness but is meditation based on Christ, emptying the mind of everything unnecessary so that we become aware of the presence and love of Christ," he reportedly wrote.

The Bishop also referenced a 2015 lecture from Pope Francis in which he said "practices like yoga are not capable of opening our hearts up to God".

"You can take a million courses in spirituality, a million courses in yoga, zen and all these things but all of this will never be able to give you freedom," Pope Francis said.

While the Bishop's letter hasn't appeared to have been made publicly available, schools in the area confirmed to the Waterford News and Star they received the letter, but declined to comment publicly. 

Many of these schools also confirmed both teachers and pupils occasionally practice yoga and mindfulness. 

However the Bishop's beliefs clearly aren't echoed worldwide. Catholic priest Father Joseph Pereira recently opened a yoga-centric drug rehabilitation centre called the Kripa Dharavi Center in Mumbai. 

In a blog for the Harvard Medical School website, MD Marlynn Wei wrote that practising yoga and mindfulness has been shown to improve both physical and mental health in school-age children. 

"Yoga improves balance, strength, endurance, and aerobic capacity in children [and] offers psychological benefits as well," she wrote. 

"A growing body of research has already shown that yoga can improve focus, memory, self-esteem, academic performance, and classroom behaviour, and can even reduce anxiety and stress in children."



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