06/21/2018, 10.03
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Indian Priest says practicing yoga helps fight drug addiction'

by Nirmala Carvalho

Today is the fourth World Day of Yoga. A special event in the English House of Lords. Fr. Joe Pereira has been practicing meditation for 50 years and applies the discipline in his Kripa foundation. "Meditation and yoga have the power to help us get in touch with our true inner self".


Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Practicing yoga to combat drug addiction. This is the mission of Fr. Joe Pereira, president of the Mumbai NGO Kripa Foundation,  that cares for AIDS patients and drug addicts. 

He was speaking to AsiaNews ahead of the Fourth International Day of Yoga, which is being celebrated today.  He has been invited to give an address  in London on an initiative on this subject organized by the parliamentary group All Party (UK) in the House of Lords.

The priest tells that for 50 years he practices the Iyengar Yoga method and has been a pupil of its founder Bellur Krishnamukari Sundara Iyengar. In the same way, for the past 30 years, his foundation has used yoga "to help in the rehabilitation of people with alcohol and drug problems. The Kripa Foundation offers an intense program of yoga and meditation designed especially for people who undergo treatments and recovery sessions [from drug addiction] ".

Today's celebration is deeply felt not only in India, but in various parts of the world. Social networks abound with photos of Indian premier Narendra Modi as he leads an exercise of 55 thousand volunteers in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. 

However, the Indian Church has repeatedly expressed contrasting opinions on the claim that the practice "leads to the divine", emphasizing instead the beneficial effects on body and physical health. Indian activists and intellectuals have long said that the obligation to observe the celebration in schools, forcing students to sing sacred sonnets and Hindu mantras, limits the freedom of worship of minorities and represents a lack of "sensitivity" towards Christian and Muslim students.

According to the Indian priest, "meditation and yoga have the power to help us get in touch with the true inner self and to transcend the world of Prakriti [the 'world motive force', ed] and of materialism and to operate from a level of awareness which brings us to our essential 'uniqueness' ".

Responding to the perplexities that a Catholic priest who teaches yoga raises, he replies: "First of all, I have been practicing Iyengar Yoga for 50 years. After the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church has received elements of spirituality from the religions of the whole world. In my work with drug addicts I have found that the answer to the thirst for love and God is fulfilled through the discipline of the body. With the body, as a temple of the spirit of God, everyone has a journey towards God within his own self ".

"I love the Catholic Church - he concludes - because it is truly Catholic, it welcomes this discipline within contemplative practice. I will continue to use yoga for the two dimensions of drug addiction and contemplative prayer. The Kripa model is now used all over the world as a tool for recovery. I will propose to the English parliamentarians to implement the same method also in the United Kingdom ".

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