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Shrink on the Mat – Yoga & Religion

May 2, 2011
Q: I enjoy my yoga and am told that it is not based on a religion, however, I find it difficult to see and separate the Hinduism and yoga, are you able to explain why this is and how one can separate the two?

A: Yoga is indeed a part of Hinduisim. Hinduism is one of the world’s most ancient religions and it is useful to acknowledge that yoga has its lineage in an ancient wisdom. Yoga was also originally a verbal tradition passed down from teacher to teacher and there is no clear cut evidence that it was ever part of an organized religion. Yoga is a spiritual path, not a religious one. Teacher David Swenson writes of this issue.  “ There is no need to attach a religions label to yoga anymore than there is a need to attach a religious label to penicillin” . “The beauty of yoga is that one can maintain any religious belief and still use yoga to enhance his or her personal path. Regardless of what we may read about the history of yoga, the true proof of yoga’s benefits on all levels lies within the applications and practice of yoga for each of us.
Linda Kantor is a psychotherapist, yoga teacher and practitioner who has been in private practice for the past 15 years.
Have a question about yoga? Email Linda directly or
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