International Yoga School – Yoga Teacher Trainings and Sound Healing, Rishikesh

Is Yoga a Religion? Does it make you Hindu?

Yoga and Religion, the great debate is in almost everybody’s mind. There are so many opinions and conversations which can lead to confusion or prejudice. Most of the time we get confused between these two terms but what is the truth of yoga, very few of us is aware of it.

People start relating Yoga with Religion (Hinduism). Because of the country of its origin ‘India’. Over approximately the last decade, Yoga is becoming famous not only in India. But, across all over the world. After Malaysia announced a ban on Yoga due to religious reasons. Soon after, then the debate on Yoga and Religion has increased.

What does Yoga means?


Yoga by itself means ‘Union’. Derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’ which means ‘Unite’. Yoga is a group of mental, physical and spiritual discipline. Which means Union with God. Most of the people get confused with Yoga and Hatha yoga (System of Postures). But both are different from each other. Yoga is a path towards enlightenment which helps and focuses on building mental and physical strength of our body.

According to “Gorakh Shabdawli ” by Guru Gorakh Nath

जोग अवरण जोग अभेद, जोग अखंडित जोग अछेद।
जोग जति सति जोग दया, येहा ग्यान जति गोरख कह्या।

Yoga is not Varna (Based according to certain race or Ashram), Yoga is not divided into any Type of Style, Yoga is wholeness (of the mind), This Yoga is flawless. Yoga is meditation, virtue, Yoga is compassion, this is wisdom.

So, if we go with the above statement of Guru Gorakh Nath then Yoga is not related to religion at all. As well as Yoga, not a Physical Practice only. It is not the system of beliefs, it works primarily with the energy present in our body. Our mind can not concentrate well because many of the tensions are going through our mind and illness of our body. It prevents the energy from flowing to the brain. Yoga makes a bridge over it and helps our body and mind to have control so that the energy could be released and starts flow to the brain. It is done for inner peace, the peace of our mind and body, the peace after the meditation. It could be only done by Yoga and meditation. So, it is not spiritual beliefs, it is the discipline which treats our inner body, mind and our outer body. Yoga has many benefits.

Surya Namaskara

Yoga as Tradition or Religion

There are different forms of Yoga, some of the forms are more overtly religious than others, so people think that Yoga is religious. Some People thinks it is religious because of the yogic asanas- Surya Namaskars, which is a series of positions to greet the Hindu God Surya or Sun. But if you don’t get have the intention there then you don’t feel it something religious because if I am kneeling down, it doesn’t mean that I am praying. Similarly, the Surya Namaskars Asanas are like this situation. Some Yoga classes feature the chanting of Hindu Sutras like ‘Om’ but what about the others? Other Yoga classes make no reference to spirituality at all. Yoga aids all who practices various exercises (breathe control meditation) and some other exercises. Some People says Yoga has a tradition of Dharma (in the western sense it is called religion.

Yoga is such a broad term, there is no definitive definition of it. Similarly, there is no definitive answer to this question. If you make sense of Yoga as Union then you can do Yoga for Physical fitness and if you define Yoga as Holistic or Religious thing, then you can do Religious Yoga like Surya Namaskars and Chanting of the word ‘OM’. It’s all about the individual’s mentality. What he or she is thinking and feeling for Yoga. o


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