So your exercise routine is good for your body…but how do you strengthen your soul? Dan Burke explores Catholic alternatives to yoga with Colleen Scariano of SoulCore and Sara Moraille of Pietra Fitness. Dan also takes you behind the scenes of EWTN's papal coverage with EWTN's VP of Programming and Production Peter Gagnon.

Catholic Alternatives to Yoga

Colleen Scariano and SoulCore

Colleen Scariano is a wife and mother. While athletics have been a part of her life since she was young, as an adult she was never able to stick with any exercise routine for long! Through SoulCore and the combination of the rosary with the physical exercise, she finally found the path she needed to strengthen both body & soul. 

SoulCore pairs the prayers of the prayers of the rosary with strengthening movements, Scariano shared. She said that the exercises are influenced by pilates and isometric exercises. “Throughout the course of the workout, you will pray the entire rosary,” she said, noting that “there will be time periods of rest where we will reflect on the mysteries of the rosary.”

“We really specifically pull out the fruits or virtues of each mystery, so we can reflect on how we pull that virtue from the example of Christ’s life or the Blessed Mother’s life and apply it in our own life,” according to Scariano.

Scariano was inspired to start SoulCore after suffering three family deaths. In that time, she turned more to the rosary and grew in her devotion. Around that time, she began running while praying her rosary, combining the physical with her prayer. “I found it to be this beautiful time of prayer,” she said, “and I also found it to be a nice two-for-one: I prayed my rosary and also had my physical experience done for the day.”

Though many people think of the rosary as a specifically or only Catholic prayer, Scariano pointed out that it’s very scriptural and that it’s really “for anyone who desires interior peace and desires to grow in virtue, and it’s a beautiful way to reflect on the life of Christ.”

There are specific exercises for each set of mysteries. “We intentionally vary the workouts based on the mysteries,” she said, “but you will, in each case, receive a full-body workout,” though she noted that it is not an aerobic workout, but more strengthening and core focused. The Sorrowful Mysteries workout, for example, is more rigorous so that participants can connect with Christ’s suffering and Passion. The Luminous Mysteries workout has more stretching and a lighter focus.

Sara Moraille and Pietra Fitness

Sara Moraille is the co-founder of Pietra Fitness.  She is a promised member of the third order of The Apostles of the Interior Life.  Her professional training and experience are in education, art, dance, and interior design.  Her primary vocation is as a wife and mother of four beautiful children.

She was introduced to yoga in her background as a dancer as just stretches and strengthening exercises. It was some time later, when she found herself at an actual yoga studio, when she felt called to leave the practice behind, having been exposed to the spiritual elements of it. However, she missed the actual exercises, so she began her own program with a friend and colleague.

They started by asking their archbishop for permission, and having received it, formed the program they’re currently using, which is specifically Catholic. Each class starts with petitions from the participants and an opening prayer. Then there’s a period of breathing that focuses on gratefulness. Then, Moraille shared, “we’ll get into a bodily prayer posture that has traditionally been used by the saints to involve our whole body in the prayer, and then we’ll repeat one of the Psalms briefly, like one short line from a Psalm, and direct it to God.”

There’s a blessed San Damiano cross in the front of every class, “and we believe that the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and that God wants to restore us,” she said, “and so, during these times of bodily prayer, we focus on Christ and we focus on the Cross.”

“Rather than emptying our minds and just trying to relax our minds, we’re trying to concentrate and to grow our minds on something good, such as courage, love, joy. Each class has a topic and there’s scripture to go with it,” Moraille said.

Classes include a reading from scripture or a passage from a saint’s writings at the end, with a period of quiet time.

Links of note:

EWTN’s Papal Coverage

Peter Gagnon is EWTN's vice president of programming and production. He manages EWTN's program scheduling, promotion and production activities, in addition to EWTN's Washington, D.C.-based news operations. Peter has worked at EWTN for more than two decades in a variety of positions, from coordination of Spanish-language translations during the launch of EWTN's first 24-hour Spanish language channel to Director of Programming & Production.

Last year, according to Gagnon, EWTN covered 144 papal events as well as 158 other live special events, in addition to the regular programming, throughout the country and world. “We actually have started sending our crews,” Gagnon said. “Part of our News Nightly crew went to the Philippines, Korea, and we were on the papal plane,” he said.

The March for Life in Washington, D.C., in particular, is an event where EWTN is there “with the cameras…for people to see the throngs of people in the crowds who really do care.” At the Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco, there are now over 50,000 people participating. EWTN’s coverage of these events might have even led to other cities considering holding their own walks. This year, Chicago and Los Angeles held walks in the United States and Rome, Italy had a March for Life as well.

“A lot of people did say [that] yes, it was from watching it on EWTN, seeing that we can do this too, we can stand up for life as well,” Gagnon said.

Brian Patrick and his team on News Nightly have expanded to five nights a week and there’s now a White House presence with a dedicated space on the lawn. “We can really be a true presence in the media and a Catholic presence there…to present what does the Church say on this and what is the true Church teaching when these events happen in the world,” Gagnon said. The coverage includes the same events all the other news agencies are covering; “we’re not skipping out major events, we’re a Catholic perspective,” he explained.

For the upcoming World Meeting of Families which will be coming to Philadelphia later this year, Gagnon has been planning EWTN’s coverage. “EWTN’s going to basically move to Philadelphia for those days,” he said, including the production team for TV, radio, and the Register. There will be English and Spanish and he noted that there will also be some sort of German presence as well.

He mentioned that the coverage will include the talks of keynote speakers, as well as interviews and insight from attendees.

In addition to being on location for the World Meeting of Families, the Holy Father will be going to New York and Washington before he goes to Philadelphia, so different crews will be covering that as well. It will be, Gagnon said, “wall-to-wall coverage.”

“We’re probably going to be bringing 30 to 40 people, which includes all areas, which isn’t very big,” he explained. They also still have to have the crew in Birmingham to take the signal in, add the graphics, and manage the production and direction of this coverage.

“We’re looking at upwards of a million dollars to really do full coverage in all our languages,” according to Gagnon. Though there isn’t just that money sitting around, Gagnon said that, like Mother Angelica, “we have to depend upon Divine Providence and the generosity of our viewers” because “this is an important event in the life of the Church, because the family is under attack today. We have to stand up and give the truths of what the family truly is, and present that and help people who can’t attend but would love to.”

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