Is Yoga A Religion?
Yoga is a practice that has become very popular in the United States. According to a 2008 study, there are 15.8 million Americans who practice yoga. I ran into a student that I had not seen in awhile , she talked to me about her conflicts with practicing yoga and her spiritual beliefs.Her concerns were about yoga being a religion....She was afraid that by continuing the practice of yoga, it might undermine her own religious faith. Are her fears warranted? Is yoga a religion?
Because yoga has its roots in the Hindu culture of India, there is a popular misconception that yoga is a religion. Just as the practice of the Japanese martial arts of karate and aikido does not require becoming a Buddhist, the practice of yoga does not require you adopt Hinduism. Rather yoga is nonsectarian, promoting health and harmonious living. The answer to both questions is: instead of undermining personal faith, yoga can actually deepen it. At the heart of all forms of yoga is the assumption that you have not yet tapped into your full potential as a human being. For this reason, yoga can and in fact has been practiced by people with widely differing philosophies and beliefs. Yoga itself is simply a tool for exploring the depth of our human nature, of plumbing the mysteries of the body and the mind. Students often remark how much deeper they can experience their faith because of Yoga. I think it is all the opening that happens in Yoga. Not just the body opening, but many stubborn toxic thoughts, and stuck emotions open up as well, making more space, in all the layers of who we are.
Yoga is what we make it...It is a personal journey into you.
We all have different experiences incorporating, or separating yoga from religion, what is your view?