When you hear the word ‘yoga’ you’re probably thinking of people in eastern clothing, crossing their legs and meditating in a kind of spiritual bliss.
This is a common misconception and the main reason why some people think yoga is a type of religion.
The truth is that yoga has a lot of connections with certain religions – but you might be wondering if the practice itself classifies as a religion.
If you’ve been wondering about this – you wouldn’t be the first! In this article we’re going to be going through everything about yoga, and whether or not it can be classified as a religion.
We’re also going to give you an overview of how the two have been related throughout history, and a short FAQ section to answer any additional questions you may have.
Can You Call Yoga A Religion?
The simple answer to this question is no! Yoga is not a religion, but it has a lot of links to different religions across the world.
The idea that the practice of yoga is a religion is a common misconception, one that happens usually because of its links to spiritual understanding and wellness.
Often, spiritual or religious people practice some form of yoga.
What Is Yoga?
So then, let’s take a look at what yoga really is. In short, yoga is a practice that has existed for a long time and is believed to have originated in India.
It is a practice that focuses on the wellness of both body and mind.
Yoga can be thought of as comprised of three distinct facets – physical movement, meditation and reflection, and breathing techniques.
All of these come together to create a practice that is calming and strengthens your body.
Yoga has been popular in eastern parts of the world for a long time, but in the past 100 years, it has increased in popularity in the west.
The general benefits of yoga include calmness, strength through static poses, and general body flexibility.
The history of yoga is long, complicated, and steeped in some amount of mystery. The exact origins of the practice are unknown, and it’s hard to know where it started.
Generally, it is argued by historians that yoga originated in Vedic texts, but it can be difficult to know how far back this practice goes and whether or not it was incorporated into the religion from some other places.
How Is Yoga Connected To Religion?
Because of its earliest origins, yoga is frequently linked to different eastern religions.
It’s important to note that whilst yoga is not a religion, it is very connected to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.
Yoga And Hinduism
Yoga has some of its earliest roots in Hinduism. There is a lot of academic work that has been done trying to link the two together, but fundamentally it was mentioned in early Hindu literature.
The Upanishads, which are a series of over 200 writings, mention in alongside meditation techniques.
The main idea here is trying to help humans connect with their inner self – something we understand in the western world as the subconscious or spiritual realm.
Yoga is a way to connect with some of the fundamental Hindu concepts including togetherness and inner peace.
Yoga And Buddhism
Yoga and Buddhism are a good fit because of their emphasis on mindfulness.
Buddha was a famous practitioner of yoga and studied the practice for many years as he searched for enlightenment.
Similar to Hindusim, the main goal of Buddhism is to achieve inner peace and harmony with oneself and the reality you exist within.
Buddhism has used yoga as a practice to achieve this since its very beginning.
Yoga In The Modern World
Yoga is still used to this day as part of multiple religions, but it has also been adopted by other religions that have no direct historical link with it, and even athiests.
Yoga is a greatway to exercise, and even if you don’t believe in any of the spiritual concepts associated with it, the value of meditation is easy to see.
Some of the main physical benefits of yoga for any person no matter their religious affiliation include:
- Flexibility – yoga is one of the best ways to increase flexibility. The numerous positions put your body in places you wouldn’t usually experience in normal life
- Strength/Conditioning – yoga requires a lot of physical strength, mostly because of the static poses you engage in.
- Respiration – yoga promotes good respiration practices through breathing techniques during difficult positions.
- Weight Loss – like any bodyweight exercise, yoga can be a great way to get in shape and lose some weight.
So there you have it! Yoga cannot be classified as a religion, but it has an intricate shared history and may have originated from Hinduism.
In the modern world, you can practice yoga without being anything to do with religion and it is recognized worldwide for its many positive physical benefits.
We hope that this article has helped you to understand what yoga is and why it’s so practiced throughout the world.
If you still have some questions, keep reading and check out our short FAQ section.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do You Have To Believe In God To Practice Yoga?
No! Even if you are practicing yoga with religious people, there’s no reason to believe in god and it’s very unlikely anyone will expect you to.
The physical and mental aspects of Buddhism can be experienced and enjoyed without any belief in a higher power or spiritual realm.
What Religions Does Yoga Not Go With?
This is really subjective and depends on specific churches and religious practices.
Generally, yoga is a practice that can be enjoyed no matter the person’s specific beliefs. However, it only really has links with Hinduism, Buddhism, and other related religions.
The Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) do not practice yoga, though some forms and individuals have included it as part of their general religious practice.