Is Yoga a Religion?
Often deep in our unconscious states of mind, yoga has been associated with Hinduism. Chanting divine mantras, reciting the sutras of Patanjali yoga or Bhagavad Gita and using symbols and idols of Shiva, Shakti, Ganesha etc, logicallydraws the mind to think yoga as a ‘holy practice’. Or perhaps it belongs to any kind of religious and social cult.
However, yoga is closer to science than to religion. Science functions on trial and errors, assumptions and experiments. Whereas, organized religious like Hinduism, Christianity or Islam condition our mindinto a blind belief system. Every religion has their own set of do’s and don’ts which we are meant to be obeyed by their members. Science is more factual and based on doubts. Yoga is entrenchedon science. It is a full proof science of the inner self. There is no practice belief in yoga. What seems to be beneficial for one perhaps may not be suitable for the other practitioner. Hence, with yoga you need to do various experiments with different yogic tools. If the experiment works well with you then it’s good for you and if not then you need to try another method.
The second most important point that makes a religion a religion is the concept of hell and heaven. According to any religion if you are virtuous and do good deeds then you have your placed reserved in heaven or paradise. And if you do bad deeds then the hell is awaiting your presence! There is no such concept in Yoga. You practise yoga for yourself and not for any reward.
Every organized religion has a few commonly shared fundamental things which work as building blocks to a particular religion. Unfortunately these foundations are not present in Yoga. Let’s go through them briefly:
The first thingevery religion be it Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism or Christianity needs is aGod or the concept of God. Someone who is kept at the top of the pedestal and people look up to them. Whereas, yoga means Chitta VrittiNirodha; emptying the mind from its content or obstacles. In yoga there is no one to look up too rather the person has to look within and observe his mind and body.
2. Holy Prophet-
Can you have direct conversation with God? Every religion has a proclaimer of the will of god. Every religion has different Avataras or angles who have direct contact or conversationwithGod. For instance, in Islam Muhammad is the prophet. By doing a Yoga Teacher Training in Indiayou don’t become yoga prophets. By the yoga courses you just become yoga teachers.
3. Holy Scripture–
The God gives a message to the prophet and the prophet writes it down inform of scriptures which becomes a holy book. There are many holy books from the great epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata to Quran or Bible in different religion. In Yoga there is no holy book. Patanjali yoga sutras are just a few basic guidelines given by Sage Patanjali to facilitate the a yoga practitioner.
4. Holy Priest-
The son of God, reincarnation of God or whatever you call it has a few special chosen people to whom he shares his knowledge. They become the holy priest. These priest recites the scriptures to the layman which are given by the prophet through the holy book. In Yoga there is no priest who commands you to a certain way of living. There are just a few people who have long experience in yoga sadhana and are willing to share their experience to help a new sadhaka in the field of yoga and meditation.
5. Holy place-
And lastly to conduct these ‘holy’ things you need a special destination; a holy place. Every organized religion has a pilgrimage where the devotes go and worship God. Temples, mosques, synagogue and churches are a few to name. In Yoga there is no holy place. You can practice yoga anywhere and everywhere. Ranging from your bathroom doing various yogic kriyas like JalaNeti or Dhauti to practising asanas in your balcony you can do yoga anywhere!
So you see how yoga is different from the various organized religions. Yoga is based on experiments and doubts. Yoga has various types of practises which works towards making your body and mind healthy. It aims brings about a feeling of wellness and well-being to oneself. MYT Yoga is a platform where you can have a bird-eye-view of Yoga and meditation. We give our students various methods and techniques of yoga which can bring about a holistic change to the individuals body, mind and spirit. Visit the about uspageto know more!