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Yoga's Many Religious Avatars

by Tanya Thomas on January 13, 2011 at 8:01 AM
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 Yoga's Many Religious Avatars

Yoga seems to have been "reincarnated" in America and some other parts of the world.

Various organizations are promoting "Christian Yoga", claiming to provide a Christian approach to yoga.


There are DVDs like "Christoga: Yoga Filled Body - Christ Filled Soul" (60 minutes of Yoga with bible scriptures recited by Janine. Yoga with Christ as the meditation focus!). There is a "Christian Yoga Magazine". There are books like "Yoga for Christians: A Christ-Centered Approach to Physical and Spiritual Health through Yoga"," Holy Yoga: Exercise for the Christian Body and Soul", etc.

Welcoming the widespread interest in yoga, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that although introduced and nourished by Hinduism, yoga was a world heritage and liberation powerhouse to be utilized by all. One could still practice one's respective faith and do yoga.

Yoga would rather help one in achieving one's spiritual goals in whatever religion one believed in.

"Yoga DVD" search on January nine at amazon.com yielded 4,828 results.

Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago (Illinois) is teaching "Catholic Yoga" whose announcement says: "explore the multiple spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice while explicitly integrating prayers and spiritual themes of our Catholic faith". At the First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue (Washington), "Traditional yoga postures and Biblical meditations are accompanied by Christian music". Morristown United Methodist Church in New Jersey conducts "Christian Yoga" classes.

Talking about "Yoga and Meditation", "The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod" says: "from our theological perspective, techniques of relaxation and/or exercise (mental as well as physical) are not, of course, problematic in and of themselves. But it is the religious aspects of a practice such as Yoga that raises concerns for Christians."

There is "Gentle Jewish Yoga", while "Torah Yoga" "offers an experience of Jewish Wisdom through Iyengar yoga instruction together with the study of traditional and mystical Jewish texts."

"Yoga Buddhist pursues an interdisciplinary approach that merges the insights and practices of yoga with Buddhist mindfulness and meditation". A paperback is available on "Yantra Yoga: The Tibetan Yoga of Movement". And then there is "Shinto Yoga", which "incorporates Hatha Yoga practices as well as the various exercises of Japanese Shinto", besides a paperback on "Shinto Bouddhisme Yoga". Of course, there is "Zen Yoga".

"Tao Yoga" in New York teaches Taoist Yoga. Yogi Bhajan taught Kundalini Yoga and "3HO Foundation" founded by him calls itself "A Global Community of Living Yoga". A blog on Zarathushtrian Mysticism talks about Zoroastrian Yoga and states: "The essence of Zoroastrian yoga is the purification of the Aipi". There is "Ageless Yoga" in Australia.

Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that yoga, referred as "a living fossil" whose traces went back to around 2,000 BCE to Indus Valley civilization, was a mental and physical discipline handed down from one guru to next, for everybody to share and benefit from.

According to Patanjali who codified it in Yoga Sutra, yoga was a methodical effort to attain perfection, through the control of the different elements of human nature, physical and psychical. Yoga was based on an eightfold path to direct the practitioner from awareness of the external world to a focus on the inner, Zed added.

Zed argued that yoga, which never had any formal organization, was the repository of something basic in the human soul and psyche.

According to US National Institutes of Health, yoga may help one to feel more relaxed, be more flexible, improve posture, breathe deeply, and get rid of stress. Swami Vivekananda reportedly brought yoga to USA in 1893. According to an estimate, about 16 million Americans, including many celebrities, now practice yoga. (ANI)

Source: ANI

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