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Saturday, December 04, 2004

Why I Am Not A Hindu Advice Columnist
The following question, authored by Tammara, recently appeared in blogging.la:

So here's an LA moment: I came home from my yoga class yesterday to find a note on the bed from my boyfriend and his closet empty. ARGGGHH!!! I guess the yoga really IS meant for something other than my snack-pack! Onward and upward I say. So how does a modern girl ease the transition?...

If you check the comments you'll find a lot of (presumably) helpful advice, but one clown posted the following:

Um...date a male yoga instructor? :)

Posted by Ontario Emperor at December 3, 2004 11:27 PM

The article caught my eye for a tangential reason. One of my co-workers at the place I won't name (for obvious reasons) is enrolled in an MBA class. This co-worker's study group created a survey (created by some free site which I would link to if I could remember what the site was) designed to ask various men whether they participated in yoga, why they did or didn't participate in yoga, and their perception of yoga. Maybe you wouldn't be surprised to learn that my response on the last question included the word "non-Christian." Yup:

These two terms, religion and Yoga, are almost identical in their meaning. The term "religion" is of Latin origin, meaning the re-linking or binding man to God. The term "Yoga" is of Sanskrit origin, meaning uniting man’s spirit with the Divine Spirit or God.

The special feature to be noted regarding Yoga is that it represents the universal spiritual mystic that underlies all religions of mankind, and is therefore a common and thus unifying factor in the religious life of human society.

Whereas, as an observed historical phenomenon, the diversified religious systems have tended to separate man from man and split up human society into mutually exclusive groups that refuse to harmonize with one another.

Yoga tends to bring out the inner unity that exists at the central core of all religions, and its non-sectarian techniques bring people closer in spiritual ties of inner unity.

I think we've seen this before.

Of course, at least one person argues that the yoga in your average health club is non-religious (emphasis mine):

Q. IS YOGA RELIGION? Yes. The words Yoga and Religion have an identical meaning. Yoga comes from the Sanskrit Yuj which means "to yoke" to the spirit. Religion comes from the Latin Religio which means "to link-back" to the spirit. Religion is also about ethical rules, regulations and religious rituals which are also found in the many aspects of Yoga. Religion is also about organization. (Actually when as few as two get together and discuss "things spiritual," we have the beginning of a religious organization with the inevitable rules, regulations and rituals.) Yoga, too, is a well organized system of spiritual beliefs and practices. There are also countless organized groups that gather together to practice various aspects of Yoga.

Q. IS YOGA A SPECIFIC RELIGION? Yes. The many aspects of Yoga constitute the religion of Hinduism. Hinduism is also known by the Sanskrit term Sanatan Dharma. There are three other religions that have evolved from Sanatan Dharma/Hinduism; i.e., the Buddhist, Jain and Sikh religions.

Q. DOES ONE HAVE TO BE A HINDU TO STUDY ANY ASPECT OF YOGA? No. Just as anyone is free to study any other religion, all are welcome to study and practice the various aspects of Yoga/Hinduism.

Q.WHO ARE THE TEACHERS OF YOGA? QUALIFIED HINDUS, BUDDHISTS, JAINS AND SIKHS. Just as the teacher in any other religion is (without question) a member of that religion, the true teacher of any aspect of Yoga is either a Hindu, Buddhist, Jain or Sikh.

Q. CAN ANYONE BECOME A HINDU? Yes. Just as anyone can become a Christian, for example, anyone who so desires can become a Hindu. Those who are born into a Hindu family undergo certain ceremonial rituals as does the one who either converts or adopts (having had no previous religious commitment) to Sanatan Dharma/Hinduism.

Q. IS THE "YOGA" TAUGHT IN GYMS, HEALTH CLUBS, ETC. TRUE YOGA? No. Again, all of Yoga is spiritual/religious and basically Hinduism. When "Yoga" is taught by basically anyone as just another exercise routine for money, not only are the "teacher" and student misled but also this is a grave insult to all devout Hindus--indeed to all who understand the wisdom of following a spiritual/religious path.

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