Yoga is not a religion… or is it?

I just read this article over at Elephant – which is what is inspiring this post.

People fear yoga.

People fear yoga for a few big, common reasons. One is – they fear yoga because they start doing yoga, realize it’s changing them… opening them to new ideas – connecting them to who they really are – and that scares the shit out of them. Nothing like threatening your ego to inspire fear – and then make excuses to stop doing something and stay stuck where you are. This, I will address in a future post – stay tuned.

Another reason people fear yoga is they feel it’s a threat to their religion. 

Well, honestly, it might be.

However – it’s only a threat to your religious beliefs, if you are already, somehow questioning them… or you aren’t actually deep down in your core aligned with them.

If you’re not already standing solidly in what you believe spiritually – then it can be changed. And yoga just might be the vehicle to change it. 

And if that notion scares you – then maybe you should take a long hard look at what you say you believe spiritually.

Yoga – at it’s pure core – means union. As in unifying you to who you are – deep down – in your soul.

And, if you’re not already deeply connected to that person, guess what? Chances are good, your soul is trying to tell you something and you’re not listening. Yoga is going to reconnect you to your soul, and you’re going to start listening. And that is going to mean change will happen. And yes – maybe even a change in “religion.”

Honestly, I’m so tired of bumping up against religious leaders, and overzealous followers who tell people to stay away from yoga because it’s somehow going to be a threat to their spiritual beliefs…

Christians do yoga and remain Christian. Muslims do yoga and remain muslim. I could go on and on…

I did yoga and went from calling myself a Christian to becoming a Buddhist… but hey – that’s just me. I already had issues with what the Christian Church calls spirituality – and really – ask anyone in my inner circle and they’ll tell you that I always had issues with that… it just took yoga for me to get reconnected with myself, and stand up for what I really believe in.

Comments

  1. says

    Jenn,

    I applaud your honesty and speaking your truth in this post. Although I didn’t realize this was an issue for yoga being a “threat” again religion. But I guess when something comes along where someone is put in a place where there is a challenge to see themselves truthfully and honestly, it can be scary so some people will feel it is “bad”. But it is possibly they prefer to stay in their comfort zone of what they were brought up with instead of really stepping into the truth and expanding their possibilities. I like yoga for the reasons others “fear” it. I like the fact it allows me to connect with my spirit and true core of who I am. And to me yoga enhances my spirituality and it doesn’t take away from it.

  2. Jenn says

    “…I guess when something comes along where someone is put in a place where there is a challenge to see themselves truthfully and honestly, it can be scary…”

    BOOM – you hit it right on the head Teresa. When we are put in a place where we are called to look at our own truth – if that truth suddenly differs from what we think we know – it scares the hell out of us… ask me how I know ;)

    However – if you ever want to be truly happy, centered and at peace… then you need to examine your truth and stand in it. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do – but it’s the best thing you’ll ever do.

  3. Jill R says

    Hmmm…lots of things to address here…
    #1 – Buddhism is “technically” not a religion. It’s a culture, a way of living. Then again, if your “religion” is your way of living (as it should be), then isn’t that splitting hairs?
    #2 – I am a Christian and a church educator…and quite honestly, I see most church leadership and staff in COMPLETELY different places in their spirituality and beliefs than the general congregation member. We don’t all subscribe to the issues that give the “bad name” that we are given by many. I honestly get pretty tired of folks believing that we are all on that same strange page.
    #3 – to say, or even imply, that yoga would have a negative impact on your Christian beliefts is ridiculous. If you believe that, than, as you said, maybe your relationship with your God needs some examination…and yes, we should all examine our relationship with God pretty regularly.
    #4 – random FYI…about a year ago our church sponsored a yoga class for members and the community, and I regret that it was at a time that did not work for me, as it would have been great to be able to do this WITH my sisters (and brothers!) in Christ. I hope to have the opportunity again…
    #5 – I guess I haven’t faced that “hardest thing you’ll ever do” thing because I don’t feel threatened by the truth or where I stand in it…

  4. Jenn says

    Jill! I’m thrilled that you chimed in here! I want to have a discussion around this because I think it’s such an important topic.

    First – let me be clear… I’m in no way implying that ALL religious leaders are on the same page on this. I know many Christian leaders and lay congregation members that are very open to yoga.

    What I want to get across here is that, yoga will open you, and it will change you. And yes, sometimes that means it will call important things in your life into question… If that notion is scary to folks, then, that’s a good indication that yoga – or something similar – is exactly what you need.

    As I said, I read the article mentioned above and it inspired to write this because I’ve had several experiences over the last three weeks where people have told me they fear yoga because it either “goes agaisnt their religion,” or they won’t do it becuase they fear it will change their religious beliefs… Which as you so wonderfully put – the notion that yoga could have a negative impact on your religious beliefs is ridiculous.

    I think it’s awesome that you’re standing strong in your truth. That is very powerful… Just by doing that, you’re inspiring people to stand I their own truth.

  5. Jill R says

    It occurred to me after I wrote the above comments, that you might have thought I was implying that you held some of the assumptions of which I spoke. I was not trying to imply that you held these thoughts. I don’t know whether you or don’t. I was just expressing the frustration that many hold inaccurate assumptions about all Christians based on the vocal few that often give us all a bad name. With those folks who are anti-yoga, anti-homosexual, anti-women in leadership, and so on, and so on…I do not subscribe to that “Christianity” and even question where those folks stand in their own truths…perhaps yoga is just what they need! :D

  6. Jenn says

    Jill – I totally got what you were saying – and I’m so glad you said it! I think it’s important to have open discussions like this – so that we can all learn from each other… even the folks that hold the anti-beliefs (if they would be so inclined to chime in ;) ).

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and adding to the discussion!!

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