We know you have questions, and we wish we could sit down with you personally right now to have a conversation about each and every one of them. Seriously. We LOVE talking about this stuff. And perhaps we’ll have just that opportunity on our next retreat! But until then, we’ve provided some answers to the questions we get most often below. If you don’t see your question here, we’d love to hear from you.
What is Ignatian Yoga?
Ignatian Yoga is a collaborative ministry of Jesuits and lay people that integrates the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola and Yoga philosophy. Participants are invited to experience God’s presence through movement, personal and communal prayer, and spiritual conversation.
Ignatian Yoga is committed to studying and teaching the integration of Ignatian spirituality and Yoga. We uphold the uniqueness of both traditions and highlight the ways they can enrich each other. We believe the partnership and collaboration of the two are helpful methods to heal, deepen, and transform one’s life in relationship with God.
What is Ignatian Spirituality?
Ignatian Spirituality fosters greater awareness of God in the world and how one is called to live. Rooted in St. Ignatius’ relationship with Jesus, Ignatian Spirituality inspires people to seek interior freedom in order to more fully respond to their unique call and the needs of the world. Some key components of Ignatian Spirituality are:
Principle and Foundation
– We are created to be in relationship with God
– Indifference to earthly materials and ambitions
– Trust that God works within all situations
– Choose what leads to a deepening of relationship with God
Freedom and Detachment
– Freedom from whatever keeps us from fullness of life
– Freedom for service, love, relationship with God & all creation
Discernment of Spirits
– Awareness of interior movements and identification of their source
– Choosing the greater good between two or more “goods”
– Which option leads to greater hope, love, freedom, connection, life?
Finding God in All Things
– Nothing is outside the purview of the spiritual life
– God works through your passions, desires, gifts, joys
– Find deep meaning in the everyday world around you
Contemplative in Action
– Reflection for active people engaged in world
– Seeks restful places of peace and challenging work of reconciliation & justice
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (AMDG)
(For the Greater Glory of God)
– Strive for the Magis = the more, greater good, greater depth
– Embrace a new way of being, loving, living
– Longing and yearning for what is beyond you
What are the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola?
“The Spiritual Exercises are a compilation of meditations, prayers, and contemplative practices developed by St. Ignatius Loyola to help people deepen their relationship with God. For centuries the Exercises were most commonly given as a “long retreat” of about 30 days in solitude and silence. In recent years, there has been a renewed emphasis on the Spiritual Exercises as a program for laypeople. The most common way of going through the Exercises now is a “retreat in daily life,” which involves a monthslong program of daily prayer and meetings with a spiritual director. The Exercises have also been adapted in many other ways to meet the needs of modern people.”
Excerpt from IgnatianSpirituality.com
What is Yoga?
The classical definition of yoga from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is yogas-citta-vrtti-nirodhah (Yoga Sutra 1.2) meaning “Yoga is the restraint of movements in the mind.” (translation by Francis X. Clooney, SJ.) Yoga can also be translated as “to yoke” or “to unite.” This can manifest as:
- Oneness, integration, connection of that which is separate
- Uniting our mind (consciousness) with the mind of God
- Aims to unite all aspects of our being: our inner, spiritual life and relationships with others
Learn more by watching What is Yoga? with Francis X. Clooney, SJ on YouTube.
What are the historical and cultural roots of Yoga?
Yoga has its roots in Vedic India, and is one of the six orthodox schools of Indian philosophy. It’s a tradition that predates but has deep connections to Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. The classic text of traditional yoga, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, describes the eight limbs of yoga. Yoga means the path to union or oneness. It is the uniting of that which is perceived to be separate, including Creator and creation. In ancient India, a person would be guided by a guru. Many different gurus and schools of yoga flourished in South Asia over the centuries. Gurus brought yoga to the West in the 19th & 20th centuries.
Learn more by watching Hinduism with Francis X. Clooney, SJ on YouTube.
What Are The Eight Limbs of Yoga?
The Eight Limbs of Yoga in the Raja Yoga tradition as described by Patanjali are:
- yama (restraints or outer disciplines): nonviolence, truthfulness, non-stealing, moderation, non-hoarding.
- niyama (inner restraints or observances): purity, contentment, zeal, self-study, devotion to God
- asana (seat, pose)
- pranayama (regulation of the breath)
- pratyahara (withdrawal of senses)
- dharana (concentration)
- dhyana (state of meditation)
- samadhi (state of oneness)
Is Yoga a Religion?
“Yoga is not a religion. It proposes no gods or saviors; it moves forward on the grounds of experiential confirmation rather than religious faith.
Yoga can be thought of variously as a science, a philosophy, a spiritual and a physical practice. It is a science because its overall effects are predictable if its ways are followed. Thus, the postures with deep breathing are linked with observation, acceptance, and understanding. As a philosophy, classical yoga has a view of the human being as immortal. In Christian understanding as well, once we are created, we are in existence for all eternity. As a spiritual and physical practice, yoga is a positive and comprehensive approach to holistic health through the integration of body, mind, and spirit; as such, it is a valuable instrument to promote one’s spiritual well-being.”
Excerpt from www.christianspracticingyoga.com
Is it appropriate for Christians to practice yoga?
We believe it is. We think it is important to be educated about both traditions and practice Yoga with respect and prudence. We believe that we should neither reject everything that it not traditionally Christian nor accept everything. We encourage you to practice discernment, and we hope the following resources support you in that process.
Addressing Concerns About Yoga and Christianity Francis X Clooney SJ, Harvard comparative theologian
Yoga Brings Us into Encounter with God Francis X Clooney SJ
Can we practice yoga in a Jesuit context? Brahmachari Sharan, Georgetown University Hindu chaplain
Sharing The Spiritual Exercises with Other Religious Traditions Erin Cline, Georgetown University professor and author of A World on Fire
Why Engage in Eastern Practices as a Christian Cyprian Consiglio, OSB Camaldolese monk
Locate Christ in the Body Bill Cain, SJ
What does an Ignatian Yoga retreat look like?
An Ignatian Yoga retreat is a beautiful opportunity to deepen your contemplative practice in a community of friends. A typical retreat weekend includes five Ignatian Yoga sessions integrating themes of the Spiritual Exercises and Yoga. There is also time for spiritual conversation with the retreat directors, silent reflection, small group sharing, and morning and evening meditations.
How can I register for a retreat for an event?
All of our programming is currently paused. You can read more about our decision here. We do look forward to offering future programing, so please join our email list if you would like to be the first to know when we are resuming our programs.
I’m not Christian. Is Ignatian Yoga for me?
We hope anyone who is open to experiencing Ignatian spirituality and Yoga will deepen their spiritual life and find renewal in Ignatian Yoga spaces. If you are not Christian, we hope Ignatian Yoga will support you to deepen in your own tradition. If you are not religious, our intention is for this space to be nurturing for you as well. On retreats, all are welcome to take part in as much or little of the weekend as you are comfortable.
Can I become an Ignatian Yoga teacher?
We are planning a training for certified yoga teachers who already have a foundation in Ignatian Spirituality. We are not yet equipped to offer this program, though we look forward to doing so in the future.
How can I stay updated on Ignatian Yoga?
We would love for you to join our monthly newsletter to receive updates from our community.
What are some books to learn more about Ignatian spirituality, Yoga, and the integration of the two?
- Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle
- The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life by James Martin, SJ
- Stretched for Greater Glory: What To Expect From The Spiritual Exercises by George A. Aschenbrenner
- The Ignatian Adventure: Experiencing the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius in Daily Life by Kevin O’Brien SJ
- Where the Hell Is God? by Richard Leonard SJ
- Inner Compass by Margaret Silf
- The Spiritual Exercises Reclaimed: Uncovering Liberating Possibilities for Women by Katherine Marie Dyckman, Mary Garvin, Elizabeth Liebert
- Sadhana, a Way to God: Christian Exercises in Eastern Form by Anthony de Mello SJ
- The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality by Ronald Rolheiser
- The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe by Richard Rohr
- Becoming Human by Jean Vanier
- Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today by Joan Chittister
- The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton
- The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming by Henri Nouwen
- Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God by James Finley
- Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom by BKS Iyengar
- The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice by T.K.V. Desikachar
- The Bhagavad Gita introduced and translated by Eknath Easwaran
- Autobiography of a Yogi by Yogananda
- Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy by Sadhguru
- The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele
Relationship Between Indian Spirituality and Christian Spirituality
- Spirit, Soul, Body: Toward an Integral Christian Spirituality by Cyprian Consiglio, OSB Cam
- Prayer of Heart and Body: Meditation and Yoga as Christian Spiritual Practice by Rev. Thomas Ryan, CSP
- Christian Yoga by J.M. Dechanet
- A World on Fire: Sharing the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises with Other Religions by Erin M. Cline
- River of Compassion by Bede Griffiths
- Bede Griffiths: Essential Writings (Modern Spiritual Masters Series) by Bede Griffiths, OSB Cam
- Yoga and the Jesus Prayer by Thomas Matus, OSB Cam
- Hindu Wisdom for All God’s Children by Francis X Clooney, SJ
- Jesus and the Lotus by Russill Paul
Christians Practicing Yoga also has an extensive reading list here.