Yoga is My Religion

Up until recently, my interest in yoga was purely the physical practice, the Asana, and I shied away from any aspect that might involve spirituality or embracing a religion. Even as a young girl, I took issue with organized religion--so many horrible deeds have been committed in the name of God, and many followers shun entire races, sexual orientations, nonbelievers, simply because their religion tells them it is right or wrong. Not to mention, children are often taught what to believe before they have a chance to figure things out on their own. All these years, I've struggled to call myself an Atheist because I didn't want to have those difficult religious discussions; I didn't want people to try to convert me. I was as stubborn as the believers.

I thought I would go through my 200 hour yoga teacher training, learn a little about the spirituality and beliefs behind the practice, and go on my way to teach power yoga and vinyasa classes. In just one weekend with Benjamin and Radha, I realized the error of my closed-mindedness. I've been selling myself short on so much of what makes up yoga. Coming at it from a strictly scientific way--looking at the body as muscles and bones to stretch and realign--and completely disregarding the soul. I've only been practicing yoga for a couple years, but I was ignoring how much it was impacting me beyond the physical. Yoga calming me every day, on and off the mat. It was bringing me clarity in how I treated others, and balance in how I took care of my physical body. I don't need to pin down exactly what it is I believe in, and I don't need to call it God. Yoga is my religion-- it has opened my mind to the possibility of embracing a higher power.

1 Response

  1. Unfortunately, I think there is frequenty the miiponcectson that many practices from the far east are religion based. I can remember attending a conservative christian church many years ago that would not allow a karate class to use the gym because they felt it was in conflict with the church's theology. Yoga can be very spiritual, but not in a religious worshipful way. It is more in the same way one may have a positive experience and feeling while sitting at the beach watching the waves roll in; sitting under a shady tree listening to the soft melody of wind chimes; enjoying the view from a mountain top; or being hushed by the majesty of the Grand Canyon. Any serene activity can promote spirituality not religious spiritualiy but the my-soul-feels-peaceful kind. I have practiced yoga for years. I find the simple act of letting go of my thoughts to enable me to listen carefully to the instructor and follow her lead into the next pose, is in itself restful. The body is gently challenged to stretch and flex while I focus on nothing more than it. I come out of my yoga practice feeling relaxed and calm, ready for the chaos to begin again. It is good for my spirit !

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