Yoga and Religion

Yoga has been linked to various theological and philosophical systems for thousands of years. Yoga is not a religion in itself and nor is it linked to any specific religion. First and foremost, yoga is a practical, physical, mental and spiritual discipline that you can reach spiritual enlightenment through personal exercise. Yoga is a tool that enables you to delve into your own human nature.

Yoga does not claim to be the only or the true path to salvation. No one is ever excluded from practising yoga. Quite the reverse, yoga exercises can be and are performed by all types of people all round the world, no matter what their religious persuasion and ethnicity. You do not have to join any sect or believe in anything in particular to practise yoga. You do not need to believe in anything other than the possibility of being able, through your yoga training, to transform and reorient yourself towards reaching your own full potential, and come into contact with your innermost self, the person you really are.

 

The short answer
Yoga is a spiritual discipline, not a religion. Where religion is about faith, yoga is a pure science, the oldest scientific tradition on our planet. Yoga is a method for expanding your consciousness that is about coming into deeper contact with your inner self, rather than any external gods. Spirituality, which is not the same as “religion”, is about meaningfulness, of listening to your heart, taking care of yourself and doing what you perceive as important while at the same time having an open and sympathetic heart in meetings with other people.

 

The long answer
Religion is a belief system whereas yoga is a system of physical, mental and spiritual training. Yoga is one of six (6) great philosophical systems born out of the Veda texts originating on the Indian subcontinent thousands of years ago. Yoga has always seen itself as pure science, a path to increased consciousness and greater self knowledge.

Rig-Veda, which contains over ten thousand verses, is the oldest of the philosophical works and is dated by an ever increasing number of researchers, including Georg Feuerstein, one of the world’s leading authorities in this area, to the third or fourth millennium before Common Era, where Rig-Veda names yoga as a concept. If this dating is correct, some form of yoga was practised on our planet 6,000 years ago, perhaps even earlier. Yoga is a scientific, practical, methodological, systematic discipline to help humans better understand their own deepest and true nature. As a spiritual discipline and science, yoga has never been about being part of any religious process, where everything is about faith.

Yoga has always been about reaching a complete truth via repeatable experiments and self study. Over time, thanks to its power, yoga has been incorporated as a tool into different religions such as Hinduism, which, because it does not have a specific founder, is difficult to date its exact origins in time, however several different sources suggest around 1,500 BCE. Sikhism was founded in the 15th Century and uses yoga, as does Buddhism that dates from around 500 BCE.

In 2012, there was a lively debate in Sweden as to whether yoga should be taught in schools there following a complaint about alleged religious connotations.

In October of that year, the Swedish Schools Inspectorate ruled that yoga could not be considered to be religious and allowed yoga to continue being taught in schools.

 

MediYoga and religion
MediYoga is a modern form of yoga derived from Kundalini yoga and developed in Sweden that, with the help of the most original and powerful elements of traditional yoga, seeks to create health and balance in the lives of people today. We use numerous mantras from the Kundalini yoga tradition such as the Guru Ram Das mantra, which is also used in Sikhism. We use the mantra to leverage its vibratory power in different heart meditations. The word Guru can be translated as he or it that leads us from darkness to light and Ram Das means non-judgement. MediYoga is a scientific method whose yoga and meditation programme has been tested within the parameters of modern scientific research since 1998, in cooperation with several leading Swedish research institutes, such as the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

 

To summarise
Yoga is a tool you personally choose how you wish to use. Yoga does not require any form of confession or acknowledgement by its practitioners. We do not worship any gods or icons. Yoga has no priests, no churches and does not require membership of some congregation.

To access different traditions and experience them within yourself in an authentic way is a way for you as a person to develop in every way. Yoga can equally well be practised by religious fundamentalists as by atheists. You will not automatically become a Buddhist or a Hindu surreptitiously, after practising yoga for a few weeks or months.

Yoga features as part of many religions – but religion is not part of yoga.

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