Monday, 8 June 2015

Can Yoga be Held as Religious Exercise?


A series of exercises that tend to promote the well being of the body and mind is actually called as Yoga. Since the mind and body are involved, the application of some hymns might promote better concentration when people do yoga exercises. After all, it is not the religious affiliations that we should look for. Instead, we should observe the benefits these yoga exercises fetch when we do them with devotion and application. Due to the immense benefits it gives, the yoga has been adopted by foreigners.  They did not look at the religious connotations these exercises or asanas have. These exercises might have originated from Hinduism and Buddhism, but they can be practiced without adding the religious flavour to them. This is what people in the west do to reap the benefits of yoga.

yoga types

Different Types of Yoga

The body-mind exercises can be adapted in different forms. The westerners have come with a form of yoga called Ashtanga Yoga. They have adopted this form of 5000-year-old Indian physical, mental and spiritual exercise to transform the body and mind together for betterment of health.  There is another type of yoga. It is based on religious devotions. The followers of Hare Krishna movement call this form of yoga as Bakthi Yoga. There is another type of yoga called Hatha Yoga. This kind of yoga uses a series of exercises that focuses on building physical and mental strength. This kind of yoga is based on the scientific analysis of the responses of the body and mind towards various postures.

yoga exercises

Analysis of Yoga Exercises

Irrespective of types of yoga followed, the ultimate aim is to achieve a state of bliss that gives a true picture of the world around us and show where we belong in it. This is what we call the enlightenment. This can be achieved by means of exercises and the spirituality. The religious people sometimes use a combination of spiritual and physical exercises to get speedy results.  The followers of Hatha and Ashtanga Yoga approaches essentially dissociate the spiritual aspect from this and train people based on a series of concerted body movements and breathing exercises to soothe the mind. You cannot find the religious connotations in it. When we consider the case of Surya Namaskara, the bowing exercise is not meant to worship the Sun God as such. When we face the Sun, we get the positive energy from it. This helps us to stay fit for the day and focused on our works. It is purely a mind exercise. It is up to you to decide in front of whom you should bow while doing the Surya Namaskaram. One cannot find the tinge of religion in these exercises if we remove the hymns associated with them.


Landmark Judgement on Yoga

Few days back, a case was filed in a US court alleging that a series of mind and body exercises were taught to the students of an elementary school in California that talked about religion. They further alleged that the form of Yoga taught in the school subscribes to Hindu religion, which is against the state constitution. After observing the video recording of the classes and excerpts from the Yoga trainers, a 3-member jury of the San Diego court ruled that the form of Yoga taught in the school truly complements the physical education curriculum followed in the school. It further added that the yoga taught in the class never spoke or made any oblique reference to any religion. Hence, it is fit for the use as a means to improve the general health of wards in schools.  This proves that Yoga as such has no religion.

yoga judgement
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