by Akiva at Mystical Paths
(An ongoing story of the hand of heaven directing us and giving us a chance. A multi-part series and a true story.)
Part 1 here, Part 2 here.
Dear Editor and Ad Sales:
Having seen an advertisement in the (Jewish Magazine) for Yoga and seen mention of such a classes in orthodox synagogues, I queried an orthodox Jewish world expert on Indian / Hindu religious practices to determine if yoga, a traditional Indian practice associated with the Hindu religion, could indeed be kashered. Here is the information I received...
"There is no such thing as "kosher yoga" anymore than is there kosher xian love -- yoga is a branch of hinduism which is idolatry. There are several types of yoga, the yoga they are talking about is posture related yoga. It is not that the postures themselves that are idolatry but the names and intentions certainly are. Even when the only Hindu word is yoga it leads people to go on into those books that do teach the actual idolatry!
For instance, even in "kosher yoga" classes they will teach a popular posture that feels very good on your back called "salutation to the sun". This is simply doing the ancient idolatry of worshiping the sun! There are many many other things that can sneak into "kosher yoga", such as treif mantras and kavanas, and powers. This is a real concern and whoever is teaching it should clean every mention of yoga and hindu words out out his practice including disposing of the books that he/she has explaining the postures.
Even the Hindu names are often named after their gods! If you google "kosher yoga" you will see outright idolatry being taught as kosher."
I notice the ad also mentions a kabbalah focus. I would add that almost anything being advertised as kabbalah is almost certainly treif (excepting many outreach efforts who title classes this way to draw in the non-religious Jewish public on this 'hot' topic.)
The yetzer hara does not come to our community and say 'eat non-kosher'. One involved with such practices would be strongly advised to check with _expert rabbonim in such matters_ to verify that such practices are kosher.
So off my letter went. I didn't expect to hear anything back, nor actually see it published. After all, I was challenging an advertisement, and that's peoples income. Further, I'm sure they get tons of mail, why would they pay attention to mine? But, a few days later...
Dear Mr. M:
I would love to speak with this person. Who is "an orthodox Jewish world expert", please?
It's ... author of ... If you are not familiar with his story, he went off and became a master hindu guru in the 70's, following their practices and meditating for literally 20 hours a day in India. On his return to the US he formed a hindu cult in Central Park.
When at the highest levels of those practices he didn't find the truth, somehow he found his way to Chabad. Today he's a chossid in the Old City. He can be contacted at ...
Dear Mr. M:
Thank you very much! The source of the Double Special Extra Kosher Yoga has sources from (noted Ultra Orthodox authority), which kasher yoga somewhat, though the (noted Ultra Orthodox authority) wrote not to publicize that.
The terminology you used is interesting, "somewhat". Perhaps, like discussions of those involved with eastern meditations (G-d forbid), this is a path to lessen the impact of it and lead one out of the negative aspects of it.
But for one not involved, becoming involved in something that is "kasher somewhat" means becoming involved in something that is "non-kosher somewhat".
There's an extra sentence in the communication I had with the Hindu expert that I did not include in my letter...
"if the guy is straight he has to change the name of the practice and take out all Hindu references. This *may* be enough unless he is teaching such things as "chakaras" and "kundaline power" "
I don't know what those things are, nor do I know anything about the Double Special Extra Kosher Yoga teachings (has any rav reviewed or given haskama?) But that seems to match your description of "somewhat" pretty well.
Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.
BS"D - בסיעתא דשמיא