Dear Yoga Friends,
I'm excited to introduce the new owner and steward of the Catholic Yogi. Allyson and I met through the good work of the folks at Christians Practicing Yoga, where we were both impressed and supported by the nuanced and necessary approach of going to God the way God comes to us: in and through the body. Every step of our respective journeys brought us together, and I am thrilled to hand off this necessary endeavor of opening doors, creating space, welcoming love, and offering hope to someone as passionate and engaged as Allyson.
I see her as a life-long student, seeker, and steward of both wisdom traditions, which is why I feel so confident that this is the right moment for me to step away and for her to step in. Here's an introduction to Allyson's "Why Yoga, Why Catholic" story, in her own words.
Allyson Huval Student | Seeker | Steward
When first beginning my journey at the intersection of faith and yoga, I looked for people who were thinking the same way. Part of this was to learn, and another part to make sure I wasn’t alone. I happily found Christians Practicing Yoga, the springboard for my inspiration. The content resonated with me but there was something more unique about where I was coming from: the Catholic side.
I knew I needed to tell my side of the story. So I began thinking of a name, a brand if you will. I immediately thought of “The Catholic Yogi.” Then I found Amy. I saw her website and almost gave up. “Someone’s already doing this,” I told myself. “What could I say that would be new?”
Never in a million years would I have imagined that I would consider Amy such a dear friend. Never would I have guessed that she would think of me when deciding what the next step for Catholic Yogi was. To say that I am honored and blessed is an understatement.
My yoga practice and my Catholic faith were intertwined from the beginning. Growing up, I attended a Catholic school. After being picked up from the bus stop, my granny would teach me yoga in her living room. My practice and my faith dropped off here and there. Most weeks I was a Christian wanderer, attending school mass on Thursdays and a non-denominational church (or no church at all) on Sunday. I committed my body to the “cheerleader life” without giving it the rest it needed. Ultimately my practice and my faith each came back to full fruition in high school when I regularly attended yoga classes and Sunday masses. The two were seemingly married together. It was to my surprise that many Catholics saw what I was doing as “irreverent” and even “demonic.”
I knew this couldn’t be true. God had visited me too many times while on my yoga mat for it to be. I took a deep breath, theoretically and literally, and plunged into the study of the Catholic Church, yoga, religion, and spirituality. Yoga helped me navigate being a woman in the Church and it helped me find my role as a Catholic.
Catholicism usually involves images of high Christology and low mass attendance, radical acceptance and frequent rejection. My journey with the Catholic Church has been rocky, yet my journey with the Catholic faith has remained steady. Frankly, there are many things with the Catholic Church I don’t believe in. To not tell you that would be an incredible disservice if you have been or will be in that frame of mind.
But here are somethings I frequently return to:
I do not need to escape the institution to practice the way that best services me.
Anything the Church says that I do not agree with isn’t a call to retreat. It is a call to have more critical and crucial conversations.
The Catholic Church is made of humans, meaning it can never be flawless. The Catholic faith is grounded in Christ, meaning it will always be perfect.
Nothing will ever change for the better if people completely abandon it.
I understand that for many people Catholicism is not a safe space, and I want to leave space for that. Some people cannot remain Catholic due to very real and very noble reasons. The simple fact is I have never been able to do that. Maybe one day I will, but today I just cannot. My Catholic faith (and yoga) is ingrained in my very being and I have always returned to it.
Yoga is practice, my preparation for fullness in Christ. For me, all yoga has the infinite potential to be holy.
Allyson Huval is the founder of Bethel Yogi, the product of her interest in interreligious dialogue and comparative theology. She received a bachelor’s degree in both public relations and religious studies from Louisiana State University. She is currently working towards her master of arts in religion concentrating in Asian religions at Yale Divinity School. She is a certified aerial yoga teacher, registered yoga teacher, registered children’s yoga teacher, and registered Christian yoga teacher. She enjoys exploring mysticism in daily life.