When Students Ask About Yoga and Religion

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When Students Ask About Yoga and Religion

how to become a certified hatha yoga teacherBy Jenny Park

My opinions are my own and I appreciate the chance to air them in public. Are you a fitness Yoga teacher who’s sick and tired of religious fanatics and their questions? Maybe you practice religion or not, but you teach asana as a workout and if somebody has a spiritual epiphany in your class it’s just by luck. The reason being, you’re teaching students how to improve their life in a physical and mental activity.  

If you’re a spiritual teacher, try not to be insulted by my limited viewpoint, but I could care less. Yoga training has changed my life for the best and I want to share it, but I want to physically throw a prospective student out on the street, if they want religion in my class. Lately, I had a prospect visit my studio and she told me the devil teaches Yoga. Guess what? I told her she was right just to get her out of the building. In fact, I offered (tempted) to teach her a special hot class to give her an underworld experience. 

Is Yoga a Religion?

Yoga is a form of exercise that not only benefits the body, but benefits the mind as well. It has often been used as a way to open up spiritual growth. However, that doesn’t necessarily make it a religion, as it depends upon exactly what a person wants to get out of his or her practice. Many people associate the chanting that is often done in Yoga schools with religious overtones, but not all classes incorporate chanting. It is safer to say that Yoga training can help a person who is interested in personal growth and balance, whether it is spiritual, mental, or physical.

Yogic methodology is more about awareness practice than worship. It can help us become more aware of ourselves, our bodies, and the world around us. It helps us to incorporate healthy practices into our days and the way we live. Through the use of mindful meditation, we can help to decrease the stress that we feel and by focusing on what we are feeling at the moment – and not dwelling on yesterday or tomorrow. That is one of the gifts of Yogic methodology, and it is something we can improve upon as we practice.

As most people who practice Yoga know, it is a viable form of exercise for all fitness types. It can help strengthen and tone the muscle groups, as well as improve balance and flexibility. This can be particularly beneficial for people of all ages. Many fitness minded people practice asanas to improve their training regiments. Runners, swimmers, and other athletes will incorporate Yogic posturing in order to be well-rounded and to help avoid injury.

To say that Yoga is a religion might be a great way to pigeonhole it, and fortunately, that is almost impossible to do. The practice of asana is done almost everywhere in the world in some shape or form. People from all different backgrounds and nationalities enjoy the practice of Yoga. It does provide some type of common ground for people. That is probably why it has spread the way that it has throughout the world. And because it can appeal to a person’s spirituality as well as their physical health, it is a one of a kind experience for all who practice it.

© Copyright 2013 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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