Yoga vs. Religions
Is Yoga a Religion?
Yoga has many meanings to many people, while some people may perceive and treat Yoga as a religion; it is not. Yoga is a way life and a path to spirituality. Through this path of spirituality you can follow any religion; Yoga can lead you to a religion or spiritual beliefs. Yoga does teach that there is a higher power; may it be a God/Goddess, Divine Spirit, superconsciousness etc. Yoga however does not teach that there is one and only God, system of beliefs, or righteous path. Yoga has no dependence on “One” God or set of beliefs that there is a supreme power controlling everything.
In most religions the focus of worship or belief is in external figures such as God(s) Goddess (es) Spirits etc. Many religions preach that “their” path or God is the “One True” and or “Only” way to eternal salvation, wisdom or enlightenment. Yoga teaches that there are many paths and many Gods; which one you choose to follow is entirely your choice.
Yoga does not rely or place its dependence on external figures such as God(s) to do things for us as many religions do such as give us happiness, health, wealth etc. Yoga does not ask us to give up our free will and faith to blindly follow a path or God(s). Rather Yoga teaches us that everything is contained within us; our happiness, health, wealth, wisdom, success, failure, learning etc. is all contained within our being and not controlled by external God(s). Yoga teaches us to be independent, to make our own choices rather than having blind dependence on an external figure to do it for us.
Irrespectively of your religion Yoga teaches us acceptance of each other, to live a positive life filled with happiness and goodness. Those who practice Yoga are walking the path towards self-improvement, a path to transcend away from darkness (ignorance, anger, hate, sadness…) towards light (knowledge, happiness, bliss…). Yoga practitioners seek to improve their body, mind and spiritual-self through the practice of asanas (postures), breath control (pranayama), and mediation (dhyana) (following the Eight Limbs of Yoga) regardless of religious beliefs. They look for wisdom and learning from their actions, to control their body and mind to achieve a better balanced life.
All across the Earth (and Universe) there are many faiths and religions. There are also millions of people from different backgrounds and countries that follow a faith, religion or none at all (Atheist) that practice Yoga. Yoga is for everyone regardless of your personal beliefs; so YES, you can still practice Yoga while following the religion of your choice.