Irish Catholic priest condemns yoga as ‘work of the devil’ – Steven Alexander

Roland ColhounFr Roland Colhoun made headlines around the world when he said that practising yoga or receiving Indian head massages will lead to the “Kingdom of Darkness.” – Steven Alexander

Hindus are urging Pope Francis to discipline a Catholic priest from Northern Ireland after he suggested yoga was the work of the devil.

Fr Roland Colhoun made headlines around the world when he said that practising yoga or receiving Indian head massages will lead to the “Kingdom of Darkness”.

The priest from the Glendermott parish in Londonderry said yoga had its origins in paganism, and would draw practitioners into the “bad spiritual domain”.

There, he said, lurks “Satan and the Fallen Angels, the Kingdom of Darkness”.

Yesterday, Hindus hit back in the form of Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism.

Rajan ZedHe said that he would be “urging His Holiness Pope Francis to discipline a Derry Catholic priest who linked yoga to Satan”.

The Hindu spiritual leader also claimed that the Vatican library itself held various yoga-related books, and he would be contacting the Bishop of Derry Bishop, Donal McKeown, to let him know about them [Refer Bishop not commenting on global yoga storm].

In a statement from Nevada in the US, he called for yoga to be introduced in every school.

“Seeing the proven benefits of yoga, it should be introduced in all the schools of the world,” he said. “Incorporating yoga in the lives of the students would be a step in the positive direction.”

He said that the ancient discipline can help users to feel more relaxed, be more flexible, improve posture, breathe deeply and get rid of stress.

Mr Zed said that yoga, “although introduced and nourished by Hinduism”, was a “world heritage and liberation powerhouse to be utilised by all”. 

And he claimed yoga was an “effort to attain perfection, through the control of the different elements of human nature, physical and psychical”.

Fr Calhoun was thrust into the spotlight after he told the Derry Journal that yoga was essentially Satanic.

“Pope Francis said ‘do not seek spiritual answers in yoga classes’. Yoga is certainly a risk. There’s the spiritual health risk,” he said.

“When you take up those practices from other cultures, which are outside our Christian domain, you don’t know what you are opening yourself up to.

Fr. Gabriele Amorth“The bad spirit can be communicated in a variety of ways. I’m not saying everyone gets it, or that it happens every time, and people may well be doing yoga harmlessly. But there’s always a risk and that’s why the Pope mentioned it and that’s why we talk about that in terms of the danger of the new age movement and the danger of the occult today. That’s the fear.”

Fr Colhoun is not alone in the Catholic Church. In 2011, the Vatican’s own chief exorcist, Gabriele Amorth, told The Telegraph that it leads to a belief in Hinduism, and that “all eastern religions are based on false belief in reincarnation.”

And former Pope Benedict XVI, when he leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, warned that yoga, Zen, and other transcendental meditation could “degenerate into a cult of the body” that devalues prayer.


In 1989, the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog warned that Eastern meditation practices such as Zen and yoga can “degenerate into a cult of the body” that debases Christian prayer. Attempts to combine Christian and non-Christian meditation are “not free from dangers and errors,” it said. The 23-page document was signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) and approved by Pope John Paul II. – Belfast Telegraph, 23 February 2015

See also

  1. “Yoga and Harry Potter are evil,” says Vatican’s chief exorcist – ANI
  2. Fr. Gabriele Amorth on Yoga: A Passport to Hell? – Virendra Parekh
  3. Chief exorcist says Devil is in the Vatican – Nick Squires
  4. American pastor says yoga is ‘demonic’ – Dean Nelson

8 Responses

  1. Pat Robertson Claims Yoga Forces People To Pray ‘To A Hindu Deity’
    – Antonia Blumberg – The Huffington Post – 26 February 2015

    Pat Robertson has some words of caution for anyone considering taking up yoga.

    Responding to a viewer’s question posed during Tuesday’s episode of “The 700 Club,” Robertson claimed that the ancient mindfulness practice tricks people into “praying to a Hindu deity.” During yoga lessons, he said, participants unknowingly repeat mantras “in Hindu” — though Robertson did not say whether he has ever personally taken a yoga class.

    “You don’t know what the Hindu says, but actually it’s a prayer to a Hindu deity and so it sounds like gibberish,” Robertson argued. “So you’re saying ‘kali, kali, kali,’ but you’re praying to a Hindu deity.”

    Yoga has a long and ancient connection to Hindu spirituality, but modern practice is often divorced from these religious roots, as many experts have pointed out.

    The real reasons to do yoga vary from person to person but often include moving toward personal growth, mindfulness and physical and emotional flexibility. As Swami Narayanda, director of the Sivananda Yoga Vendanta Center, told The Huffington Post in December:

    “The goal is to achieve better physical, mental and spiritual health and to achieve happiness through achieving peace of mind.”


  2. Why should Hindus care if Christians practice yoga . It’s not like they are paying us royalty for its use. What many Christians do is repackage yoga as Christian yoga, which is essentially stealing the intellectual property of Hindus for their own use. Christians have done this to Carnatic music and bharata natyam also where the art form is delinked from its Hindu roots. Eventually we will be told that Vedanta is also Indo-European and not really Hinduism.


  3. perfect logic !


  4. i quote your wise lines :

    ” Why do Hindus act as if they need validation …………..that Hinduism and Hindu practices are acceptable and good?”

    no, we don’t need either their validation or acceptance ;
    the praman’a , authority , is our own scriptures and our own enlightened souls ;

    so much good , if the outsiders stay as much far away from our concepts and practices ;


  5. Well very good news for Hinduism. Each to their own. Yoga is not good for them and by THEIR OWN definition Christianity is not good for Indians as it is alien. STOP CONVERTING


  6. With all the past atrocities of the Catholic church under the “work of God,” he is in no position to be pointing fingers at a practice that has brought internal peace and realization to so many.


  7. Yoga is for good health. Yoga also works as alternative medicine. In the name of religion people will just miss them. Religion which do not unite us is devil not yoga.


  8. Here’s what we wrote in 2010 when this issue first came to our attention:

    Why do Hindus take offence when a small-minded Christian preacher who is losing his flock to yoga and other Hindu practices, takes potshots at Hindu religion? From his Christian crusader perspective—which is not any different from a Muslim jihadi’s perspective—all things not Christian are demonic. Haven’t Hindus understood this point yet—even after centuries of abuse starting with the Lutheran missionary Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg and continuing with the Spanish Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier and the French missionary Abbe Dubois? The list of these foul-mouthed Christian missionaries who passed as priests of God in India is very long. Why do Hindus act as if they need validation from these unclean Abrahamic fundamentalists, that Hinduism and Hindu practices are acceptable and good?

    There is no need for Rajan Zed, a self-styled “distinguished religious statesman” from Las Vegas, to get his knickers in a twist. Neither the Bishop of Derry or the Pope in Rome are going to reply to him. They have made their positions clear a long time ago in official Church statements, and they are not going to change them now.


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