June 11, 2015

"Proponents of yoga argue the discipline involves more than just stretching but does it have deeper meaning still?"

"Senior Muslim leaders in India are unhappy that some state governments are giving children compulsory lessons in yoga, which they say involves some practices contrary to Islamic beliefs."
Leaders say the practice of “surya namaskar” or sun salutation–a series of poses–goes against Shariah or Islamic law, which doesn’t allow Muslims to bend before anyone other than Allah, or God.

“We don’t believe in praying to the sun,” said Mohammad Abdul Rahim Quraishi, spokesman for Lucknow-based All India Muslim Personal Law Board....

India’s ruling Bharaitya Janata Party says yoga is a secular activity. Yoga “is a science that deals with the well-being of the human mind and body,” said BJP spokesman Nalin Kohli. “There is no religious angle to this at all.”

45 comments:

MayBee said...

Everyone is better off if they do yoga. You don't have to believe in any dogma to do it.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Yoga is one of the best things for you, especially the unflavored Greek variety.

Laslo Spatula said...

I have seen women in yoga pants that have spurred me to a religious experience. In my pants.

I am Laslo.

Lyle said...

Two of my regular Sunday morning fellow yogis are Muslim. And our instructor is a Jew. Do yoga folks. It's unbelievably good for one's physical well being.



Anonymous said...

Anyone who is not a fanatic Muslim is against Muslim belief.

Thorley Winston said...

I whole-heartedly agree on the benefits of yoga and I’ve never been asked to pray or bow (except as part of the stretching) as part of it. That being said, my experience with yoga has been at Lifetime Fitness in the United States, it’s entirely possible that if I practiced yoga in a country like India there might be a religious or spiritual component incorporated that wouldn’t be found in a class offered by a for-profit company in a secular western nation.

Anonymous said...

Wait until they find out that Yoga has a sexual component.

EMD said...

Maybe if more Muslims did yoga, they'd be less uptight.

Michael K said...

I like Greek yoga, too.

Ann Althouse said...

The location of the line between religion and not religion is itself a religious question.

In the U.S., Jehovah's Witnesses thought that to saluting the American flag was to worship a graven image. Yoga posturing at the sun is perceived as prayer other than to the one God to some Muslims.

It should not be compulsory!

MayBee said...

It should be as compulsory as making a gay wedding cake.

jono39 said...

Nietzsche in a letter to a lady he yearned for, six months before he went irrevocably mad, answered a question she had posed to him. To paraphrase, he said the century which is about to begin-- this was in 1899 -- will be characterized by wars of a global nature fought with weapons we cannot even now imagine. These will produce a reaction against the rising nationalism which spawns these conflicts, leading to a revival of religious passions. As we know wars of religion are always much worse. Modestly and honestly, the tragic, great man said he could not see past the 21st century. Our challenge as a people will be to get alive as best we can. There is much more to be said but not here. Did the clarity of his vision contribute to his madness or was it a cause?

Rocketeer said...

Yoga may or may not be good for one's well-being (the science is ambiguous, at best), but in my not-so-limited experience with yoga practitioners in these United States most certainly behave as though it's a cult, complete with amusingly aggressive proselytization.

MayBee said...

most certainly behave as though it's a cult, complete with amusingly aggressive proselytization.

Have you met the Crossfitters yet?

Smilin' Jack said...

India’s ruling Bharaitya Janata Party says yoga is a secular activity. Yoga “is a science that deals with the well-being of the human mind and body,” said BJP spokesman Nalin Kohli. “There is no religious angle to this at all.”

India is the world's prime showcase of the many forms and varieties of stupid.

traditionalguy said...

Hold that stretch. It's a health science.

Peter said...

If the worst anyone ever demanded of me was that I do yoga, I just don't think I'd feel all that put upon.

Having said that, Indian politics lately has been veering toward Hindu nationalism, which is sure to result in some friction with Islamic hard-liners.

Which is to say, I don't think I'd care to be an ally of either side in this dispute. At least not until one side or the other turns violent; then, I'd want to protect the side that's been attacked.

Mitch H. said...

Although the Western practice of yoga is fairly secularized, it did come out of religious practice, and Modi's party is definitely pushing it as a religious-cultural act of aggression. Even setting aside the crypto-religious nature of the practice, forcing schoolkids to do it seems similar to the Hellenistic practice of establishing gymnasia in their eastern colonies and strongly encouraging their use by local elites. (See the Maccabean Revolt for an illustration of the dynamic I'm talking about here.) It is literally a form of cultural imperialism.

sparrow said...

Some yoga is healthy but there are risks if improperly done (ie yoga drop foot). There is a very light religious gloss to it IMO. In any case the practice should optional out of respect for freedom of conscience (a Western concept). That respect is rare in Islamic countries of course.

YoungHegelian said...

OF COURSE, this isn't really Catholic, either:

"Children, welcome to our first day of our class on Mortification of the Flesh.

Ms O'Sullivan is handing out the items you'll need for the class. All of these items belong to the school, and must be returned at the end of the year, except of course for the ashes that accompanies the sack cloth, which you'll use up.

Please make sure that your hair shirt fits snugly before the end of class, and contact Ms O'Sullivan if you need a different size.

Billy, stop whipping Susie! That whip is not a toy, young man, and the only person you should ever whip is yourself.

Are there any questions, children?"

Ann Althouse said...

Yoga is like a gateway drug.

pm317 said...

Of course, we have to accommodate Muslims everywhere but they won't do anything, nothing to accommodate others. Got it? Yoga itself is now reduced to healthy exercise even in India and has lost much of its religious fervor but Muslims can't give a break even with that. If you don't like surya namaskar don't do it.

pm317 said...

BJP gets a bad rap but it evolved as a political party because Congress party was using Muslims like vote bank. Most of the Reubs on this board can appreciate the feeling.

pm317 said...

* republicans

el polacko said...

what ISN'T "contrary to islamic beliefs" ?

Michael said...

There appear to be a group of Muslims, perhaps a large one, that is resolutely stupid on stilts.

When I am King I am going to make Muslims do yoga. Plus bake cakes for gay weddings.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

NYTimes Dec 2012: School Yoga Class Draws a Religious Protest

Tsk tsk you silly California evangelicals.

Cog said...

Yoga may be fine for pantheists and secular humanists but for people of non-Hindu faith, it is strewn with danger. To practice yoga would amount to delivering your faithlife to temptation. For example, traditional devotional meditations on divine mysteries might give way to mindless meditations to relieve anxieties. Also, practicing the sun salutation could divert your daily attention away from your faith in God the creator who made all things.

jimbino said...

Yoga is a religious practice, as is observance of a "moment of silence."

Religion encompasses more than superstitious belief. It encompasses pledges, anthems, oaths and regular flossing.

Mister Brickhouse said...

It's perception. Even religious yoga is not religious to this agnostic. But to an adherent, for whom motions and poses are fraught with etherical meaning, yoga may indeed be irreligious. Yet another reason why Islam is so incompatible with the West. But India isn't the west, and the muslim guy is probably correct, from his POV, to opt out of yoga, and if we're to respect different religions, then they should be allowed to. Especially if Laszlo wears the yoga pants!

Titus said...

I love Hot Bikram Yoga which I do twice a week. The class is packed-we are like seals-someone always farts. I also meditate once a week and work out with free weights 4 times a week. I also walk approximately 5.6 miles a day to and from work.

I feel super, thanks for asking!

My Mind and Body are fierce....as a result some people want to do me when they see me walking on the street (or in an ATM)-I think of my walk to work as a stage or catwalk-you never know when a hot hog is going to want to do you. It is so important to always be on...girl.

Ann Althouse said...

"Their jobs might be five or six miles from their homes. Drivers in a hastily organized car pool, using cars loaned by blacks, took black workers to and from their jobs, but there were never enough cars, and many had no choice but to walk. Others had the choice but chose to walk anyway, preferring to “demonstrate with their feet” their determination to end the indignities and humiliation of bus segregation. Passing an elderly lady hobbling slowly and painfully home after her day’s work, a car pool driver offered her a lift. Refusing, she explained: “I’m not walking for myself. I’m walking for my children and my grandchildren.”"

Caro, Robert A. (2009-07-22). Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson III (p. 763). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

R. Chatt said...

Democracy also is offensive to devout Muslims. They believe we all should live under God given law, the sharia, and
not man made law. And yet Muslims come to live in democratic countries because of the benefits. Maybe they could do Yoga because of the benefits, too. Maybe they are making a stink about Yoga because of their hatred for Hindus, not because they fear worshipping a Hindu God. That's my guess. Yoga never turned anyone into a Hindu.

Rocketeer said...

Yoga never turned anyone into a Hindu.

My formerly-Catholic aunt being the exception, I suppose.

Bay Area Guy said...

The hippies were into Yoga in the 70s. Actually, among their terribly, self-destructive ideas, fads and hobbies, Yoga was one of the better ones.

I guess the concept of "Exercise" or "Sports" is too fascistic or something.......

R. Chatt said...

A person has to make a conscious choice to change their religion. Becoming a Hindu doesn't just happen to people who get into yoga positions.

Rocketeer said...

It was a joke, R. Chatt. You should relax a little, maybe do some yoga.

Rocketeer said...

I'm beginning to fear some of you are going to start posting links to some Jack Chick yoga tracts.

Anthony said...

Kate Potter Namaste Yoga videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtJS-5xZnTs

H.O.Friggin'-T.

That is all.

William said...

Someone given to meditation and a contemplative life never invented yoga pants.

Lyle said...

Rocketeer,

I've been doing yoga for five or six years now, and it isn't anything like what you're saying.

Lyle said...

I agree with Ann. It should not be compulsory in public schools. I do support public schools teaching yoga in PE though. Parents not wanting their kids to participate should be able to opt out.

Gahrie said...

what ISN'T "contrary to islamic beliefs" ?

Anything that Muhammad either did not do during his life, or say it is OK to do.

jr565 said...

This is why, even though I agree with Crack on new age crisp,in most cases I didn't really see the issue with yoga. if it's beneficial for your body then it's good to do. just ignore the guru if he ever tries indoctrinating you. just give me the next pose thanks.

Rocketeer said...

BACK OFF, Lyle. Or should I say "Crypto-Hindu Lyle?"