Yoga: Good Exercise or the Gateway to Hell?

A couple articles, one recent, one older, about religious authorities’ concerns about the growing popularity of yoga. Here are some quotes. I’ve replaced some words. See if you can tell which ones concern Muslims and which ones concern Christians.

During the class I sat in on, yoga’s Hindu roots were mentioned, albeit briefly. A spiritual experience was on offer for those who wanted it.

This is the point where some [religious people] in [given country] worry about yoga. They think it is encroaching on their way of life.

One [Christian/Muslim] student told me that she combined yoga techniques with prayers. That concerns some [Muslim/Christian] experts.

[Religious people] who practice yoga are embracing, or at minimum flirting with, a spiritual practice that threatens to transform their own spiritual lives into a “post-[religion], spiritually polyglot” reality.

When [religious people] practice yoga, they must either deny the reality of what yoga represents or fail to see the contradictions between their [religious] commitments and their embrace of yoga.

We are not called to escape the consciousness of this world by achieving an elevated state of consciousness, but to follow [religious figure] in the way of faithfulness.

The ruling is not legally binding but many of [given country’s][religious people] abide by [such rulings].

Yoga begins and ends with an understanding of the body that is, to say the very least, at odds with the [religious] understanding. [Religious people] are not called to empty the mind or to see the human body as a means of connecting to and coming to know the divine. Believers are called to meditate upon the Word of God — an external Word that comes to us by divine revelation — not to meditate by means of incomprehensible syllables.

“[Religion] is a complete way of life. [Religion] is able to cater to the needs of [Christians/Muslims]; spiritual needs, intellectual needs and other needs, material needs. So there is no need to bring in elements from outside,” he added.

I’m going to throw in a third piece for fun. A blog I found while searching.

I recently overheard several conservative [religious] ladies at my gym discussing Yoga. They have decided not to participate, having concluded that it smacks too closely to dangerous paganism for their personal comfort.

But wait, there’s more.

The [religious authorities] told [religious people] on Thursday that some aspects of yoga, Zen and other forms of Oriental meditation can “degenerate into a cult of the body” and are not a substitute for [religious] prayer.

A document issued by the [religious denomination’s guardian of orthodoxy], said genuine [religious] mysticism is not a question of technique and warned [religious people] not to confuse the pleasure derived from some forms of meditation with a relationship with God.

And an article from England, from 2007:

[Teacher], who lives in [town], added: “I explained to the [house of worship] that my yoga is a non-religious activity.
“Some types of adult yoga are based on Hindu and Buddhist meditation but it’s not a part of the religion and there is no dogma involved.
“This is a class for mums and children which has yoga-inspired moves – but as soon as I mentioned the word yoga the [house of worship] staff completely changed their attitude.”
[Religious authority] defended the decision, saying: “We are a [religious] organisation and when we let rooms to people we want them to understand that they must be fully in line with our [religious] ethos.
“Clearly yoga impinges on the spiritual life of people in a way which we as [religious people] don’t believe is the same as our ethos.
“If it was just a group of children singing nursery rhymes, there wouldn’t be a problem.
“But she’s called it yoga and therefore there is a dividing line we’re not prepared to cross.”
[The leader of the house of worship] said: “Any alternative philosophies or beliefs are offering a sham – and [here] we want people to have the real thing.
“The philosophy of yoga cannot be separated from the practice of it, and any teacher of yoga (even to toddlers) must subscribe to the philosophy.
“As [religious people] we believe that this philosophy is false and not something we wish to encourage.
“Yoga may appear harmless or even beneficial, but it is encouraging people to think that there is a way to wholeness of body and mind through human techniques – whereas the only true way to wholeness is by [religion-specific thing].”

1 Comment

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One response to “Yoga: Good Exercise or the Gateway to Hell?

  1. People who think others will be threatening their own religious practice by taking yoga are obviously projecting and are internally conflicted themselves. I practice yoga several times a week and instead of “OHM” I chant “ALLAH”.

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