Is Yoga a Religion?

“Within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Is Yoga a religion?“The Yoga practices of self-awareness, self-training, and self-discovery are non-sectarian, and are compatible with all religions. If you are familiar with the differences between Yoga and religion, it is easy to keep them separate, or if you prefer, to integrate them. The choice rests with each person as an individual.” ~ Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati

“Although yoga has its origins in ancient India, its methods and purposes are universal, relying not on cultural background, faith or deity, but simply on the individual. Yoga has become important in the lives of many contemporary Westerners, sometimes as a way of improving health and fitness of the body, but also as a means of personal and spiritual development.” ~ Tara Fraser, Yoga For You

many paths, is yoga a religion?“Many paths are possible; whichever path is sincerely traveled leads to inner peace.” Bhagavad Gita 4.11

While yoga is not a religion, there are certain beliefs and ethics associated with a yogic practice and lifestyle. In classes we may use Hindu or Buddhist reflections as well as Christian, Taoist or possible others. Christians who are concerned about practicing yoga may find more help and information here. Most of us are familiar with the idea of Karma as meaning ‘what you put out into the world will come back to you in one way or another’. In Christian terms we may say ‘you reap what you sow’. There are a set of yogic principals or suggestions to guide us in living a happy, healthy life; the 5 yamas, and the 5 niyamas. The 5 yamas are suggestions to help us relate to others in society and include: non-harming, truthfulness, non-stealing, celibacy, and non-grasping. The 5 niyamas are suggestions to be satisfied and content with ourselves and include: cleanliness/purity, contentment, austerity, study, ans surrender.

“For me, the different religions are beautiful flowers from the same garden, or they are branches of the same majestic tree. Therefore, they are equally true, though being received and interpreted through human instruments equally imperfect.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi 

Happiness in Your Life – Book One: Karma Karmaprovides an introduction to what karma is and what it is not. Karma is a word often thought to mean a curse on people who do bad things, or a comfort to people who do good things and are yet to see any reward. Karma, however, is not a punishment and reward system. It is instead, based on understanding.  The 12 Laws of Karma are shared, and then those Laws are revisited in the final three sections; Karma and Relationships, Karma and Judgement, and Karma and the World. Understanding karma helps to make sense of things that just don’t seem right in the world. Everything has an order and processs, and knowing this process will lead to more positive choices and outcomes.

Learn more here:

The 8 Limbs of Yoga

The 5 Yamas

The 5 Niyamas