Mixed feelings on yoga
– by Lester Kong
PETALING JAYA: Not only Muslims have reservations on practising yoga, some Christian groups also have mixed feelings about it due to its ties to Hinduism. While some Christian groups say it was wrong to practise yoga as it belonged to a different religion, others say they saw nothing wrong as long as the participants do not deviate from their beliefs.The Malaysian Council of Churches general secretary, Rev Dr Herman Shastri, said different churches hold different opinions on the practice of yoga.
“In modern society, many young people are interested in health and well-being of mind and body.“Some churches said it belonged to a different religion so Christians should not do it,” he said, adding that many churches held spiritual retreats that were opened to non-believers, featuring meditation to alleviate stress and help people seek spiritual comfort.Another source said the issue was problematic as the council did not have a uniform stance on it.He said other church groups consider yoga to be a healthy exercise if done only for physical reasons.“But generally, for Christians, if they do not offer prayers to other Gods while practising yoga, I think it should be fine,” he said.
Malaysia Hindu Sangam president Datuk A. Vaithilingam said yoga had long been an accepted form of exercise in many countries regardless of religion and culture.“Yoga practitioners can just leave out the religion and do the exercise. It‘s entirely up to the individual,” he said, adding that there were no restrictions that yoga practitioners had to be Hindus.
The Malaysian Muslim Solidarity Movement also said there was nothing wrong with Muslims practising yoga as an exercise.“It is just an exercise for health and brings peace of mind. Nothing more than that. It has never been averse to the Islamic faith,” said its president Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad, adding that there were no objections on yoga by ulamas around the world.“This new fatwa is not healthy and yoga is a very subjective and debatable issue,” Zulkifli added.
Yoga is a form of exercise called Asana and was one of the most ancient physical and mental disciplines originating from India some 5,000 years ago. The Islamic Development Department had said on Wednesday that the National Fatwa Council is expected to make a ruling to ban Muslims from practising yoga.
Read the article from The Star Online http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/10/31/nation/2418579&sec=nation
Well, I never.
The benefits of yoga and pilates are many. Just check out abc-of-yoga article here for a simple list. Physiological benefits include improvements in dexterity skills, sleep, muscle tone, balance and posture. I also feel good after a good yoga class. It can help to imrove one’s mood, increase one’s awareness of self and surroundings. When you’re feeling at peace with yourself and the world, it’s a bit tough to walk around with a scowl on your face and anger in your belly. Trust me.
So what do we have now? A potential ban for muslims to practice yoga? WTF. Are our guideline committees so free and have nothing major or more impactful to look into that they’re resorting to touching everything?
I’m feeling rather rattled by this news, not so much of the announcement per se, but by the potential direction this vehicle is going. Am I looking at a picture of the tail wagging the dog here? What are they trying to distract us from?
In the meantime, it’s still a free country, and I will still go to my yoga class. Maybe the council members should look into their own faith in the holistic view of THEIR own organized religion first instead of going around like headless turkeys, gobbling away. Is their own faith so flimsy that a simple yoga class will make them ‘walk to the dark side’?