Ireland: Bishop of Waterford warns against yoga and mindfulness in schools - - PressFrom - United Kingdom
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Ireland Bishop of Waterford warns against yoga and mindfulness in schools

17:35  18 october  2019
17:35  18 october  2019 Source:   thejournal.ie

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THE BISHOP OF Waterford and Lismore Alphonsus Cullinan has written to schools across Waterford city and county warning against the teaching of yoga and mindfulness.

In the letter, which was sent on 10 October, Bishop Cullinan said that “yoga is not of Christian origin” and was not suitable for a parish school setting “especially not during religious education time”.

Speaking about mindfulness, he said that it has been practised in the Christian tradition since the beginning but “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.”

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Research on yoga in schools has grown exponentially over the past 5 - 10 years, and while the results are still preliminary, scientists are beginning to understand why yoga serves as such a An important difference between yoga and mindfulness meditation is that yoga includes physical postures.

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The Bishop then quoted a homily from Pope Francis in 2015 where he reminded people that “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.

The Bishop concluded by asking teachers and principals to encourage children to “pray the Rosary” and help them spend time with Jesus in “adoration or in quiet meditation” in the classroom.

a close up of text on a white background: The letter sent to schools The letter sent to schools The Waterford News & Star newspaper contacted a number of schools in Waterford who confirmed that they received the letter and that both the teachers and the pupils practised yoga and mindfulness at times. None of the schools wished to comment publicly about the Bishop’s comments.

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Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP) is a national, not-for-profit charity for young people and schools . Our aim is to improve the lives of a generation of MiSP also supports research and policy-making around mindfulness and education, and consulted on the Mindful Nation UK Report 2015

Waterford yoga instructor John Stokes said that religious studies and spirituality “are not the same and should be kept separate”. 

“In an age where children are really suffering from anxiety and stress we should embrace practices like yoga, meditation and mindfulness,” he said. “We should consider having an extra class added to the curriculum – maybe call it spirituality studies.”

Stokes said that “yoga and mindfulness have been shown to improve both physical and mental health in school-age children”.

“Yoga improves balance, strength, endurance, and aerobic capacity in children,” he said. “They offer psychological benefits for children as well. 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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