Why do some religious fundamentalists fear Yoga?
For many non-practitioners of Yoga, it is Intolerance for something they do not understand. This seems harmless at first, but cries of witchcraft are never a good omen. However, every method of healing has its critics.
Yoga has also been accused of being a “launching point” to export Hinduism. This is very interesting, considering the large numbers of Yoga practitioners who are not Hindus. Some Yogis and Yoginis do convert to Hinduism, but the “calling” had to come from within themselves. Within North America, most Yoga teachers are not Hindus at all and I have yet to witness religious conversion in progress.
For fundamentalist Hindus that believe Yoga and Hinduism cannot be separate, sorry to break the news, but it has already happened. Yoga was interpreted in many ways by a variety of cultures and partial facets of Yoga have grown independently. Some Hatha Yoga styles do not even practice meditation.
Yoga students outside India, pick and choose what they want to learn from Yoga. At this time, physical mastery seems to be most popular. This is why Yoga teachers outside India focus primarily on physical health. Many western students think only of Hatha Yoga, when they hear the word “Yoga.”
This is why Yoga cannot really be controlled, regulated, or patented. How do you control people’s thoughts, actions, physical practice, prayers, meditation, or songs? The whole concept of controlling Yoga is ludicrous.
Fundamentalists of different religions work together, quite by accident, to divide the world’s religions into mobs of intolerance. Their real fear is loss of control. So they speak in “absolutes.” For example: “You will burn in hell, if you do not, do as I say” and “All of the non-believers are going to Hell.”
The real problem with Yoga, for the fundamentalist of any religion, is that it can be practiced by anyone from any religion. Yoga is not exclusive: The laws are universal and interchangeable with every religion. This allows a Yoga practitioner to work independently on his or her spiritual health and work toward enlightenment.
What is wrong with working toward the common good? The idea of working toward enlightenment and self-perfection are considered blasphemy to some. However, can you imagine a world where men and women did not try to improve themselves?
The objectives of Yoga are complete heath, self-improvement, self realization, and tranquility. With these benefits acquired any Yoga practitioner can help others and work for the common good.
© Copyright 2006 by Paul Jerard / Aura Publications
Paul Jerard is director of Yoga teacher training at Aura in RI. He’s a master instructor of martial arts and Yoga. He teaches that along with fitness. He wrote: Is Running a Yoga Business Right for You? For Yoga students who want to be a teacher.