Talking about Yoga is easy for me. There is so much to talk about, so many aspects, possibilities, view points and solutions.
Bill Gamblin, my host, who was very nice and easy going on me, was asking me an interesting question and I would like to share it here with you. I heard this question many times: Is Yoga a religion?
The straight forward answer is NO.
Yoga originated in India, there is no doubt about it. In the ancient Indian scripture there is writings about it, dating back five thousand years. Also sculpture where found there, depicting people in Yoga poses.
And Yoga is intertwined with religion there, how could it not be? Religion and secular life is not separated there at all. I have been there.
But, the essence of Yoga is the science of the human condition. Including the body, mind, emotions, feelings, spirit, breath and so on. It is a science not in the western sense of specializing and separating the human being. But in the contrary, seeing humans as a whole with its many aspects and as an energy form essentially.
When we practice Yoga posture we include the body, breath and the mind foremost.
When I instruct my students to raise their arms on an inhale and lower them on an exhale, the mind (directing the movement), the body (executing the movement) and the breath (linking the two) are working at the same time, focusing on the same task. This creates a focal point into the present moment. The mind can not go into the future or the past because it is busy directing and orchestrating. In fact, this is relaxing to the mind, it does not need to run somewhere else and in conjunction it creates relaxation to the body and the entire being as well.
Religion is not needed to practice Yoga. It could be and some people even teach Christian Yoga, lacing it with Christian chargon. There is nothing wrong with it but not necessary.
I am interested in the human condition, in helping people identifying and realizing their limitations and their strengths. Beneath every believe system is a human being and it functions the same way. That's why Yoga works in America, in Germany, in India, in Russia and everywhere else. It addresses our essence not our believes systems. And this is one of the beautiful things about it. It applies to human beings, not to Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists or Atheists. It also doesn't apply to what people do either. In my classes I have seen teachers, doctors, housewife's, sales people, waitresses, retired people, people in the service, you name it. People of all walks of life.
Yoga is much more than a religion and a wonderful tool to get to know yourself, heal your body and mind, prevent serious health problems, maintain good health, become stronger and more flexible, learn how to deal with your emotions and feelings, relax and enjoy yourself. It is o.k. to relax and enjoy, it's part of our human make up. It's o.k. to walk out of class and feel good and keep on feeling like this the entire day.
I hope you find this article informative and it helps you to see Yoga in a new light or I should say in the light I see, practice and use it.