by Akiva at Mystical Paths
I'm certainly going to have to go back and compile all the yoga posts we've put up here. In very very brief, yoga contains straight idolatry. Yet, it keeps coming back into segments of the orthodox Jewish community as kosher. It's not, it can't be made so, though there's nothing wrong with "stretch exercises", there is so much wrong with yoga that anything that involves a person with the concepts of such must be avoided.
So here someone goes and publishes a letter from the Lubavitcher Rebbe on the topic. Note they preface the letter saying, "The Rebbe said NOT to publish this..."
"It should be noted that the Rebbe stipulates that the opinion be kept confidential since it could lead people to associate with improper practices and groups which are related to forms of meditation."
Which is exactly what Reb Gutman Locks and I have been saying!
Here's an excerpt (the post is marked copyrighted, therefore this is an excerpt under the fair use doctrine) of the letter, the words of the Lubavitcher Rebbe:
The reason it has been written as a separate piece without a signature, and to some extent confidentiality is that the subject matter is of a sensitive nature and the memo could be used to encourage that which it seeks to discourage and preclude, namely involvement in eastern cults. For it may be argued by many who are already involved in the therapy discussed in the memo, or are tempted to become involved, that until such time as a medical profession, will openly adopt the same methods of treatment and provide an alternative, they are justified in seeking this therapy elsewhere, especially if they take care to avoid active participation in the idolatrous rites and ceremonies that go with it. In support of this contention they can site this memo which (1) confirms the therapeutic value of the said methods and (2) indicates also that the idolatrous elements in the said cults germane, indeed non-essential, to the therapy itself.
For this reason I am asking you- as all others whom I intend to approach in this matter- to use your discretion in connection with the enclosed memo, as to its source and its utilization, etc.
I must, however, point out with all due emphasis that in my opinion the problem has reached such proportions that time is extremely important. Every minute that could be saved in speeding the implementation of the program suggested in the memo could be a matter of spiritual Pikuach-Nefesh for many actual and potential victims of the said cults.
So here's the straight story: In the mid-60's, as many Jews became involved in Eastern practices, meditation, yoga, and associated Eastern religions, the Rebbe approached a number of special people and asked them if it was possible to extract the techniques, in a neutral fashion, from the religions.
As the Rebbe notes above, these missions were confidential, and the results were specifically targeted at those deeply involved in Eastern practices. The missions, by the way, failed. At best, they came up with "not-too-terribly-horrible" alternatives that could be targeted at those completely involved in such things that couldn't get out without substitutive alternatives. NEVER were any such neutral techniques published to the Jewish community as "kosher" alternatives, nor could they be.
Yet now, we have some people presenting yoga programs as kosher exercise, and worse as ways to physically focus your yiddishkeit, to some frum Jewish communities. And, some are buying it.
If you are a heavy yoga practitioner, these programs may be a great alternative for you to work your way out of such things. But they are NOT appropriate for the general Jewish community. No way, no sale.
BS"D - בסיעתא דשמיא