April 29, 2013

I am writing in response to the letter to the editor titled “Warning against yoga absurdly fundamentalist” on April 15.

I was dismayed to see this response to yoga, that many Christians seem to think it’s just exercise when it is intrinsically Hindu prayer. I would like to share this that comes from the Hindu community.

Here are quotes from a paper “Yoga Beyond Asana: Hindu Thought in Practice.”

“Yoga (“to yoke” or “to unite”) refers to spiritual practices that are essential to the understanding and practice of Hinduism. The term covers a wide array of practices, embodied in eight “limbs,” which range from ethical and moral guidelines to meditation on the Ultimate Reality.

“Yoga – sometimes complemented with pranayama (breathing) – is only a form of exercise to control, tone and stretch muscles. Ignored are both the moral basis of the practice and the ultimate spiritual goal.

“Second, there is the concerning trend of disassociating yoga from its Hindu roots. . . . With the intense focus on asana (posture), magazines and studios have seemingly ‘gotten away’ with this mischaracterization.

“Yet, even when yoga is practised solely in the form of an exercise, it cannot be completely delinked from its Hindu roots. As the legendary yoga guru B.K.S. Iyengar aptly points out in his famous Light on Yoga, ‘Some asanas (postures) are also called after gods of the Hindu pantheon and some recall the avataras, or incarnations of Divine Power.’

“It is disappointing to know that many of the yogis regularly practising continue to deny the Hindu roots of their yoga practice.”

These brief quotes from those that practise Hinduism show that yoga is in complete contrast with Christianity. To practise yoga is to contravene the First Commandment, “I, the Lord, am your God. You shall not have other gods besides me.”

Aislinn Chapotelle