intensive yoga teacher training programBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Some Yoga teacher candidates are seeking more than a few dozen physical techniques. They want the whole mind, body, and spirit experience. It is understandable that an intern should desire complete training in a practice that has many spiritual facets and is thousands of years old.

However, some spiritual Yoga teachers say the meaning of “spiritual” is not religious. If we look up the definition of spiritual in a dictionary, the definition is stated as religious, concerned with sacred matters, a religion, a religious group, or religious texts. Is there a spiritual path, without some form of guidance, based on religious principles?

A spiritual teacher may be a Universalist, Hindu, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, or a member of any other religion. There is nothing wrong with having religious values as part of your spiritual foundation. Why do some spiritual teachers deny religion? Perhaps it all comes back to religious conflicts that have resulted in the deaths of millions.

Religion is a volatile subject and has caused many wars. That said, religious dogma is the historic fuel that incites armed conflicts. On the other hand, a spiritual teacher always has a religious foundation. To state otherwise is an insult to your intelligence. If one claims to be a spiritual teacher, he or she should know and be able to apply the spiritual principles that are being taught.

Spiritual teachers are able to point out references in Holy scriptures. They must also be able to point students toward logical solutions, by applying concepts to daily life. In fact, Holy scriptures are deeply valued for their ability to give us insight, into solving problems, at this moment.

Generally speaking, the spiritual principles of Yoga are rooted in Hindu beliefs. That said, all religions have common links. Humanity’s problem has been that we often see only the differences in religions outside our own. There is an inherent fear of outside ideas and religions, which has resulted in armed religious conflicts throughout recorded history.

In order for our species to advance, we have to focus on what we have in common with each other, and then appreciate our differences. Yoga is an avenue for a peaceful planet. The principles of Yoga are universal to all religions. As a result of this, anyone, of any religion, can see the link to Yogic principles and their religion. There is no need for religious conversion, or indoctrination, at any Yoga teacher training course, to accept spiritual dogma.

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