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Misconceptions Of Yoga & Religion


After narrowing down potential employee candidates, I received the following message from one of them: 

"Your bio states that you had an experience while engaged in yoga. You said while engaging in yoga you had a revelation to spread love. I am a Baptist preacher and I do not promote any religion or existential revelation that is not founded in the word of God. If the yoga mat is used to promote any doctrine or ideology that is not biblical based in Christianity, I can not promote it. I am not sure about this opportunity."

I respectfully thanked him and moved on.

There seems to be a lot on misconception about Yoga and Religion.

Yoga is not a religion. It is nonsectarian, but contains the ability to deepen anyone’s faith. Aspects of yoga have been incorporated into many groups and various organizations, including religions, for thousands of years. However, yoga is not a religion in and of itself, nor do you have to be religious to practice yoga. Some have used the practice of yoga, meditation and times of stillness to reflect on self enlightenment, a source they believe in, or as an act of worship.

There is a myth that one must be Hindu or Buddhist to practice yoga. The truth is that yoga  predates many of the religions that have incorporated yoga techniques. In the Middle Ages (500-1500 BC) numerous variations and practices stemmed from the common Hatha yoga practice.  Bhakti yoga is one stem. It focuses on surrendering to God. Unlike other types of yoga, Bhakti is a  spiritual journey and a devotion to the divine. This often confuses followers of Christ, and makes  them question practicing yoga. Hindus incorporated Bhakti yoga and other yoga techniques into  their religious practices. Other religions have done the same thing, however, because Hinduism is  the most popular religious group to incorporate and use yoga, many believe that yoga is Hinduism,  and that you have to worship other gods or believe other philosophies in order to practice yoga. This  would be like saying you can’t read the Bible if you are not a Christian. Of course, the Word of God  and Jesus is inclusive and for everyone, just like the practice of yoga.

How a practitioner or a group chooses to use yoga is their business. It certainly is not up to others  to judge how or why one practices. The reality of our world is that we are so quick to judge one  another or throw stones at something we don’t quite understand or have never experienced for ourselves. Our job as human beings is to honor, respect and edify one another and learn to put aside all judgments.

 


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