In response to the "Secular Yoga" article in the Religion section of the July 6 Advertiser-Tribune, I want to give a few thoughts from my 15 years of teaching hatha yoga in the Tiffin area. I will use some quotes from the greats in the yoga tradition and then will reflect with you on my own experience.
First of all, "Yoga is in Religion. Religion is not in Yoga." (www.swamij.com/
"While Yoga practices may be in Religions, the many Yoga practices with body, breath and mind, along with their transcendent goal of direct experience, are generally neither characteristic of Religions, nor typically practiced by the adherents of Religions."
For yoga to be a religion, the following characteristics must be present:
Yoga has no deity to worship, no worship services to attend, no rituals to perform, no sacred icons, no creed or formal statement of religious belief, no requirement for a confession of faith, no ordained clergy or priests to lead religious services, no institutional structure, leader or group of overseers, no membership procedure, no congregation of members or followers, no system of temples or churches.
During my 15 years as an instructor, I have seen many healings, many reductions of and/or management of pain, in people with bad lower backs, in people with fibromyalgia, in people who feel weak or have low bone density, in people who have had injuries and need therapy to recover. This is saying nothing about the needs of people who have intense emotional stress with abuse at home or work, in people going through divorce proceedings, in people who have had a loss of job or loss of a child or spouse, in children who have causes for stress. I find it difficult to enumerate all the positive benefits a person is able to experience in body, mind, spirit with regular classes.
Incorporating religion has never played a part in my teaching. Perhaps some teachers do intermingle their personal religion with yoga, but that is truly not good yoga. Yoga practices such as meditation, discovery of self, silence and peace are meant to be found in all religions. Perhaps it is due to these practices that formal religions came into being much later, after yoga had been well established as a science and discipline for a healthy body. According to the earliest archaeological evidence, yoga already could be found in stone seals which depict figures of yoga poses. The stone seals place yoga's existence around 3000 B.C.
I invite anyone who wants to give yoga a chance to come either Tuesday or Wednesday night at 6:30 to the St. Francis Spirituality Center. For more information, call me at (419) 447-0435, ext 136. Thank you.
Sister Paulette Schroeder,