Does Yoga involve Religious Worship?
Q:I attended your free yoga class at Villa beach and there was chanting involved. Does yoga involve some kind of religious worship?
There seems to be a whole lot of confusion and misunderstanding surrounding yoga. There is no religious aspect to yoga whatsoever. Unfortunately, yoga has taken on many distorted forms, especially since it has become trendy and is being used as a form of exercise. Yoga is an ancient system of practices designed to bring wellbeing to any human being, not just on the physical level but on all levels. It’s a technology. It’s a science. It’s definitely not a religion and not just a way to exercise. Like any other kind of technology, if you learn how to use it properly, it will work for you regardless of colour, cast, creed, gender. A computer doesn’t discriminate who it works for and neither does yoga. If you use it properly, it works no matter who you are.
During the beach yoga session, we were uttering three sounds: ‘ahh,’ ‘ooo,’ and ‘mmm’. These three sounds are the basis of any sound you can make with you mouth. It’s not a chant nor does it have anything to do with worship. The three sounds and the reverberations they create throughout the body alter the body’s chemistry. Whatever state you’re in – anxiety, stress, anger, sadness, peace, joy – they all have a chemical basis to them. For example, doctors will prescribe a chemical drug to alter the body’s chemistry in order to treat certain issues. It’s an external means of altering your chemistry. When we practice yoga, we are altering our chemistry from within. Sometimes people are afraid of uttering a sound because they fear it’s some form of worship for something they don’t believe in. But it’s not about believing in anything.
Yoga, if done properly, makes your body a pleasant and conducive place for your being to live. It’s bringing you to a greater level of balance and congruence. Once you’re more balanced, you will not fear the unknown so much. Like riding a bike, the easier you can balance yourself, the more you will seek out new places to ride and explore. The less balanced you are, the more you will stick to the places you know, avoiding unfamiliar terrain. Yoga makes you a better rider so you can go anywhere and enjoy the ride!
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