Can Yoga Be Held As Religious Exercise?


A series of exercises that tend to promote the wellbeing of the body and mind is actually called as Yoga. Since it involves the mind and body, it is better to mix it with some hymns to promote better concentration. After all, it is not the religious affiliation that we should look for. Instead, we should see the benefits these yoga exercises fetch when we do them with devotion and application. Due to the immense benefits it gives, now even the foreigners adopt Yoga. They did not look at the religious connotations these exercises or asanas have. These exercises might have originated from Hinduism and Buddhism, but people can practice them without adding the religious flavour to them. This is what people in the west do to reap the benefits of Yoga.

Different Types of Yoga

People can adapt the body-mind exercises 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, which uses 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 has the scientific basis. The researchers have studied it by analyzing the responses of the body and mind towards its various postures.

Analysis of Yoga Exercises

Irrespective of types of yoga followed, the ultimate aim is to get a state of bliss that gives a true picture of the world around us. This is what we call the enlightenment. The experts get to this state with the help of exercises and the spirituality. The religious people sometimes use both 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. We 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 and focused for the day. It is purely a mind exercise. It is up to us to decide in front of whom we should bow while doing the Surya Namaskaram. We cannot find the tinge of religion in these exercises if we remove the hymns associated with them.

Landmark Judgement on Yoga

An individual had filed a case in the US court alleging that fitness instructors were teaching a series of mind and body exercises to the students of an elementary school in California that talked about a particular religion. He 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, the honourable court opined that there is no harm in using it to improve the general health of wards in schools. This proves that Yoga as such has no religion.

You may also like...