Over the years people have asked me if yoga is a religion.
Some believe that in order to practice yoga they need to change religions. Others are afraid that the practice of yoga will interfere with their personal belief system. This subject came up again during one of my one of my yoga teacher training weekends, as my students and I discussed the importance of studying the sacred texts of yoga.
I am not sure when or how people find themselves having to choose between yoga and religion. Yoga to me has never been about any particular faith, nor has it been about getting people to believe in something they don’t.
As I see it, yoga has brought me and many others closer to our own personal beliefs. Yoga has given me the opportunity to learn more about myself, to deepen my connection to God, the Divine, the Creator or the Universe—whatever you choose to call it.
One of the many translations for the word Yoga is union. Yoga strives to bring all aspects of our beings into a whole, regardless of what or whom we choose to believe in.
Even though Yoga started in India, many practitioners around the world are not Hindus. I have not been to a single yoga class where I was asked if I was part of a specific religion in order to participate.
Some view yoga as a physical practice, or exercise, while others believe and know that Yoga is much more than that. Yoga is a system of wellness that helps bring our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual being into UNION.
Yoga is a spiritual practice that helps us remember to live a honest, loving and respectful life. It encourages us to treat others with kindness and respect. It tells us to remember our true essence.
You may find that in many classes the teachers and other participants chant om. This word has no religious connotation and you can choose to participate or not while it’s being chanted. You will also hear words like namaste and shanti. These words mean “I honor the Divine within you” and “Peace.” These words can be said regardless of any particular religion.
If you have been thinking about trying a yoga class, but you are hesitant because you think you have to change who you are or what you believe in, now you know that the only requisites to try a yoga class is to be yourself and breathe.
Adri Kyser E-RYT 500 is a Vinyasa, Prana Flow yoga teacher, and Power Pilates instructor. Adri’s classes are fun, dynamic and inspiring. During her classes, she invites you to surrender and let go of inhibitions allowing you to find your natural and innate flow, transforming your practice from a state of doing into a state of being.
In addition, Adri is a contributor for Origin Magazine, YogaVibes,Yogitunes, and Learn it Live.
You can find Adri sharing her passion for yoga by leading master classes, workshops, teacher trainings and retreats in the Dallas area and abroad. For more information please visit here.
Editor: Ryan Pinkard