Today is the final hurrah for the week-long Bali Yoga Festival in Indonesia. (cheers from the YD gallery). Did you go? Why didn’t you take us?? Anyway, Fest organizers set their sites on raising awareness and promoting “spiritual tourism” in the face of a looming fatwa, and overall it proved to be a success – they even birthed a new Association!
BUT, there’s no celebrating quite yet. As part of the fest, a seminar was held Monday to discuss the Muslim-Yoga scuffle with guest of honor, the MUI’s head of research and development Utang Ranuwijaya, who promptly explained that they had been doing some research and development, ironing out the kinks in the fatwa. See, like Malaysia before them, Indonesia had banned yoga, but remained iffy on the whole thing (allowing a physical practice sans chanting), while the top Islamic Council (MUI) huddled up for R&D, we guess. Well, after this past week’s “research” we are soon to hear the MUI’s “developments”…and it’s too early to say, but it’s sounding kind of bleak.
So here we are, the current status of Yoga for Indonesian Muslims:
– Asana: permitted for now.
– Chanting, “Om”ing: no way, interferes with Islam.
– Meditation: Mr Utang says pray instead.
“Meditation is a specific practice for a specific purpose that is not in line with Islam,” he said.
– Yoga Wear?: Even in-class yoga attire was discussed. No Lululemon butt-shaping here.
[Utang] warned yoga trainers at the seminar to segregate men’s and women’s classes, and told them to remind the latter to conceal their skin and body curves while exercising.
Adding that a Muslim instructor who followed this ” would certainly help their company,” which sounds more like a warning than advice.
– Mind Body Connection: Mr Utang suggests yoga centers should avoid referring to yoga as an attempt to unite the mind and body.
“There is no such thing as uniting the mind and body,” he said in all sincerity.
“In Islam, there is just being khusuk *a tranquil and immersed state of mind while praying*.”
In response, Bali Yoga Association daddy and festival adviser, Dr. Somvir, said the fatwa was “fair” by not banning the entire practice. “Basically, it means that yoga as an exercise can be done by adherents of any faith,” he said.
But Dr. Martin Ramstedt, a German researcher with the Max Planck Society and a panelist at the seminar, isn’t so content. “I just regret the fact that the fatwa does not leave a lot of room for Muslims to decide for themselves,” he said.
So now we wait for the final word, to come who knows when! They do spend enough time on deliberation, we’ll give ’em that.