Damn it, is yoga religious or what? It’s been a major bone of contention, especially in the Western world, for as long as we can imagine and while there are plenty of teachers and practitioners out there trying to keep yoga and religion separate, here come the many religious groups who say to hell with trying define it, let’s just merge the two! The LA Times had an article earlier this week about Jewish and Christian congregations forming their own hybrids of the spiritual and physical practice.
Incorporating prayer and readings from the Bible, [instructor Bryan] Brock urged his class of about 20 students to find strength in their connection to their creator through yoga’s deep, controlled breathing. “The goal of Christian yoga is to open ourselves up to God,” he said. “It allows us to blur the line between the physical and the spiritual.”
The instructor then recited the Lord’s Prayer while his students moved slowly through a series of postures known as the sun salutation.
We couldn’t help but giggle at the “breathe down Jesus” quote. Spread your arms from your collar bones like you’re parting the red sea! Seriously though we can totally see how yoga can fit right into religious theories and teachings – and we’ve definitely conjured up Jesus, Mary AND Joseph holding some extra long Warrior III’s! Is the theocracizing of yoga a positive in making the practice more accessible to everyone? Or does it start to blur the line and freak everyone out (who isn’t looking for a religious practice)?
Says author of “Holy Yoga,” Brooke Boon, “Christ is my guru. Yoga is a spiritual discipline much like prayer, meditation and fasting,” Boon said in a telephone interview. “No one religion can claim ownership.”
There’s spiritual, and then there’s religious. But even that gets pretty damn confusing.
As for Muslims, yoga is still not very well received, and teachers (and students) in Muslim regions work hard to separate the practice from religion in order to continue, though that may change (most likely in the US before anywhere else). Remember all that fatwa jazz?
What’s your say?