Tag Archives: Yoga

“Yoga Is Secular”, Says Kerala Nun, A Yoga Teacher since 30 Years – News from NDTV

“Yoga Is Secular”, Says Kerala Nun, A Yoga Teacher since 30 Years – News from NDTV

67-year-old Sr. Infant Tresa says yoga has been her constant companion along with the Bible.

Kerala | Press Trust of India | Updated: June 21, 2018 14:48 IST

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: She prays with folded hands and bent knees every day reciting Bible verses. With the same devotion and dedication, she practices ‘surya namaskar’ (sun salutation), ‘pranayama’ (breathing exercise) and ‘asanas’ (yoga postures) daily and imparts training to hundreds of people, cutting across religion.

A difference among Church groups and objections raised by some denominations against Yoga has not prevented this Catholic nun, from Central Kerala, from practicing and popularising the ancient form of exercise.

67-year-old Infant Tresa, a member of the Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC), one of the largest women’s religious gatherings in the country, feels that ‘Yoga is secular’ and ‘it does not belong to any particular religion.’

This confidence has given her strength to practice yoga for the last 30 years and provide training to over 5,000 people so far, irrespective of their religion, gender and age.

After retiring as a nurse from the government sector in 2006, Sister Tresa has dedicated her life completely to promote yoga and meditation and started two centres for it at Muvattupuzha and Thodupuzha in central Kerala.

As the country celebrates yet another International Yoga Day today, the nun says her strong faith in Yoga came from her own personal experience.

She also admitted that many Church groups still have ‘misconceptions’ about Yoga and its practice.

However, her own Congregation is extending complete support for her new role as ‘yoga trainer,’ she said.

“I learnt Yoga in 1985 and have been practising it since then. I was suffering from severe back pain and wheezing at that time. I tried many medicines but got no relief,” Sister Tresa told PTI.

“It was Yoga which brought me relief. After knowing about this ancient form of exercise through a newspaper, I tried to learn and practice it regularly.. and the result was amazing,” she said.

The nun claimed that her health issues-both back pain and wheezing-reduced step-by-step and she got completely cured within months.

Since then, yoga has been a constant companion of Sister Tresa, along with the Bible.

As her love for Yoga grew, she tried to gather as much information as possible from books and underwent a training programme in Bengaluru after availing three months leave from her nursing profession during the 1980-90 period.

After retirement, she has been travelling extensively in and outside the state to take classes on yoga and attending seminars and conferences.

Even at this age, the sexagenarian spends at least three hours for yoga practice and takes at least one of the three daily sessions at her yoga centres.

As a regular practitioner of yoga and meditation for over three decades, the nun said she found it difficult to understand why people were making unnecessary hue and cry over it.

“Those who call yoga a part of Hinduism and raise objections against it, do not know what it actually is.. Yoga does not belong to Hinduism or any other religion.. It is completely secular,” she said.

It is a physical, mental and spiritual practice, which originated in ancient India and there was no need to mix religion with it, the nun said.

Sister Tresa’s word assumes significance in the wake of the recent stand taken by Syro Malabar Church, a prominent church denomination in Kerala that ‘yoga and Catholic faith cannot go together.’

A report by the doctrinal commission of the Syro-Malabar Church had underlined the views expressed by its Synod last year that yoga is not a medium to attain divine experience.

However, Sister Tresa said the number of Christians and Muslims learning Yoga was on the rise, besides Hindus.

When asked whether she had faced any objections when she started training yoga, she said it was natural to face some resistance in the initial phase but her Congregation, bishop and colleagues have extended her all support.

“I am not defying any rules of the Church. I do not use any particular mantra or pictures of any God or goddesses, while practicing or training yoga and meditation,” she said.

She alleged that there were some hardcore Christians who think that doing ‘sun salutation’ was a sin. Sister Tresa does not mind advising them to use pictures of Jesus Christ and do ‘yesu namaskar’ (saluting Jesus Christ) instead of ‘soorya namaskar’ (sun salutation).

Performing yoga with the accompaniment of any particular mantra or practicing ‘secular yoga’ (sans any mantra or prayer) are also not wrong.

“Doing yoga is more important.. mantra, prayer or pictures are just tools that can be used according to individual choices,” she said.

Seeing people experience physical and mental relief through yoga is the happiest part of the stint as yoga trainer, said Tresa who had joined the Congregation embracing nun-hood at the age of 19.

Award for movie about Catholic priest using yoga to treat addicts – News from Crux.

MUMBAI, India – A documentary about the transformational power of yoga in fighting drug addiction won the Special Jury Mention Award at the 2018 Jaipur International Film Festival.

What is unique about the Kripa Dharavi Center in Mumbai, which finds and takes in some of the most vulnerable members of society, is that it was founded by a Catholic priest.

The Circle was directed by Philippa Frisby, a British filmmaker and certified Iyengar yoga teacher, she met Father Joseph Pereira, the founder of the Kripa Foundation.

After visiting the center, she felt compelled to make the film.

“The Circle is a story that has to be told,” she told Crux.

The documentary tells the tale of four street children through their individual stories, portraying their harrowing ordeals while living on the streets.

The film was shot organically over two years, following their lives as they develop.

It shows how they fall into a cycle of addiction – one from just 7-years-old – and how they live out of trashcans and survive by selling refuse, using drugs to block out their inner pain.

The film shows the children going to school, forming friendships with other boys in the Kripa Dharavi Center, and beginning the process of rebuilding their self-esteem and hope for the future.

The film gives a vivid insight into daily life in the center and the people who run it, some of whom were themselves street children struggling with addiction.

The staff, too, have managed to overcome terrible hardship to turn their life full circle and become role models for the children in their care.

Frisby said she had limited funds to make the film, which was entirely self-financed, and that it was only possible because of her Indian crew.

Originally planned as a trilogy of 10-minute features, the project grew into a 65-minute feature.

“I had used up almost all my savings for this film and when we won, I was overwhelmed. But for me, it was more important to share this inspirational story with the world,” Frisby told the Times of India.

Speaking to Crux, Pereira said the work Kripa Dharavi Center began two decades ago, as the number of street kids making their way into Mumbai, continued to grow.

He said various charities were started to help the children, but it was more difficult for those addicted to drugs, who often continued to live truly marginalized lives on the streets.

“We extended our care to those addicts,” the priest said, but adding it was not easy.

“As soon as we took them into Kripa we realized that these kids could not adjust to inhouse treatment, and they became a nuisance to even the addicts that came from regular homes,” he said. “So we had to create a facility to have them come together in Dharavi itself where they spent their time in finding a source of livelihood by selling garbage and buying inhalants to sustain their habit.”

The Dharavi neighborhood in Mumbai is the location of the second largest slum in Asia, and home to over 700,000 people. It is probably most famous for being the location of the 2008 Danny Boyle film, Slumdog Millionaire. Several of the actors were also from the slum.

Pereira said when children began to be freed from their addiction, they could then in turn help others.

“One such person, Deepak began using his recovery to help other addicts. Gradually, Rajan and others too joined him. The scheme to cater to these children was helped by the International Labor Organization and we began to create a community of recovering children, cleansed in the very place of their living,” the priest said.

He said the project originally reached out also to girls, but this upset the authorities.

“We are still trying to get a facility to save these street girls from all kinds of trafficking,” Pereira told Crux.

The priest said many young students from foreign universities also visit the center and share with the children various useful skills.

“What was a vicious circle of a street child being abused and led into addiction became a pathway to find meaning and love in life that they in turn are sharing with other afflicted addicts, resulting in a virtuous circle of help generating help and even resulting in a global circle of healing,” Pereira said.

Now more people will find out about this in The Circle, and Frisby said it was a unique experience.

“It has been an amazing journey. It has been a life enhancer and life-changer,” the director said.