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April 27, 2015
I must agree with Carina. Belief in God isn't required to teach yoga. But most of your students will believe in God by a variety of names and they might be members of every religion. I teach students who practice many different faiths and some have no religion at all. Due to these differences, we don't even chant in my classes. We address physical and mental health only.
Ishwara Pranidana relates to one of the five niyamas described by Patanjali. Today this yoga is classified as Raja Yoga or Patanjali Yoga. Most people teach Hatha Yoga. Very few Yoga instructors teach real Raja yoga. Niyamas aren't really taught in classes outside of India and a few yoga schools here and there.
Ishwara Pranidana is good for a yoga teacher to be familiar with because it is good to know the roots of yoga. Yoga was originally practiced by the priest caste in India. As it left India and went across Asia it became more like the holistic health system you see today. This caused yoga to be studied by Asians from many different religions.
The British also took yoga home from India. With most British being Christians, this would also change yoga forever. Yoga teachers are from all religions and some are atheists. I can verify this because of the variety of spiritual beliefs at yoga journal teacher conferences. In short, it seems that yoga teachers usually have good spiritual health, because they are kind to others regardless of their religious beliefs.
Yoga isn't a religion, but it's not just exercises. The longer someone practices the better that person feels about life. The better that person treats others. This is an opening of awareness. Here's one good example - If I'm a criminal, I have a belief system....I'm concerned only with myself, I'm so smart I don't have to work, I'm still smart when I'm is prison. Additionally, I have limited consciousness of the world around me.
If I'm a practicing Yogi, my awareness and consciousness have opened. I realize that others work for a living and I don't want to steal from them because it's just not right.
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