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Tuesday August 28, 14:56

Is yoga a religion?

Practitioners of yoga often report a very spiritually uplifting experience when they engage in it, which leads outsiders to wonder about what yoga really is
Practitioners of yoga often report a very spiritually uplifting experience when they engage in it, which leads outsiders to wonder about what yoga really is
 

This is a frequently asked question, especially with regard to yoga practice in itself. Practitioners of yoga often report a very spiritually uplifting experience when they engage in it, which leads outsiders to wonder about what yoga really is.

From the Sanskrit word meaning "union," yoga brings together the aspects of the self that were never really nodivided at all - the mind, body and spirit. People practice yoga as a physical form of exercise, but over time, they discover that the meditative aspect of yoga coupled with the gentle breathing exercises are beneficial to both physical and mental states of wellbeing.

Though there are many different approaches to the philosophy of yoga and its accompanying spiritual practices, yoga is not a religion. Religion has yoga, but yoga does not have religion. It has no deity or deities to worship. It has no sacraments or strict doctrines to follow. You don't have to profess faith in anything, and you don't have to attend or perform any religious obligations.

Yoga simply serves to deepen your existing relationship with what you already believe in your heart. It allows you to establish a connection with God/The Universe/The Powers That Be, or whatever you want to call it. It is a pathway to a deeper sense of spirituality that is inside everyone. Bhakti Yoga, the path of devotion, is an important part of yoga, but it does not tell you where to direct that devotion. It is simply up to you.

The Asanas are the physical poses of yoga, and they are performed with the intent of relaxing the body and mind with gentle, low-impact movements. Yet attaining the perfect yoga pose is not just what yoga is all about. The breathing exercises, or Prana, allow the life force to flow into our bodies with every breath we take. Breathing brings oxygen into our bodies and strengthens our systems and internal organs, allowing us to feel rejuvenated and alive. A conscious effort to be aware of your breathing in yoga is where the mind is emptied of our thoughts that limit us from living for the moment, and all these elements contribute to the feeling of spirituality brought about by yoga.

Once again, we are brought back to the question of yoga as a religion. Religion and spirituality are two different things that share a similar and deeply-rooted background, and yoga serves to tie the two together by deepening the yogi's relationship with his or her chosen belief.

 
 
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