by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths
Can yoga postures be kosher? Some say that Qigong is usually kosher, and some rabbis are trying to come up with Jewish versions of energy healing.
In your autobiographical book Coming Back to Earth you describe, in your pre-teshuvah days as the silent guru, radiating energy from your body to such an extent that strangers could feel a pleasant spiritual feeling coming from you. Is it beneficial to try to reach a similar stage through kosher means?
Regarding yoga and idolatry: There are no physical postures, breathing techniques, movements, and such that are owned by the idolatries. This is true only if they are completely stripped of their associations to the false spirituality.
The problem with yoga postures is that they are called “yoga”, or worse. For instance, one common yoga exercise is called, “Salutation to the Sun.” This used to be called “Worship of the Sun”, but has been changed to make it more acceptable in the West.[i] Obviously, it is wrong to bow down to the sun. “Yoga” is a branch of Hinduism, and therefore it must be completely avoided. This is not only true for Jews, but gentiles should not do such practices either.
Books on yoga are frequently dedicated to strange gods and should not be in your possession. The older teachers of yoga are all deeply associated with idolatry, and this idolatry seeps into their teachings. It is almost impossible to separate the solely physical aspects of yoga from their roots. This is why even the word yoga should be removed from your practices.
But bending, stretching, deep breathing and such, are healthy and are fine, as long as they are not at all associated with false spiritual beliefs.
The same is true for other similar practices generally rooted in the East. Qigong, Tai Chi, even Karate, and such, are not merely physical exercises. They are all rooted in the false spiritual teachings found in the lands where they were developed.
“Energy healings” are extremely dangerous. They lead both the “healer” and the “healed” to severe spiritual and mental problems. The lie embedded in these type practices is that they take you away from the one “energy” that is the Universal, and have you focus on and develop a ray of “energy.” This “ray of energy” becomes palpable, heavy, and ends up entrapping. When you begin to develop such a “power” you believe that you have the power. Later, you see that the power has you!
The power that develops from exposure to spiritually unclean people, places, practices, and such, can never be elevated. It is here only to give us a choice between the truth and magic. Moshe’s staff became a snake by the word of Hashem. The magicians could somewhat duplicate his act by using unclean techniques. Both methods are available. The word of Hashem leads to the Revelation of His Presence. Magic leads to corruption and enslavement.
When one comes near a spiritually unclean person there may very well be a strong feeling emanating from him. It might even feel elevating to those who experience it. It can be extremely palpable.
When one comes close to a righteous person there is a feeling of great respect, admiration, and humility.
All things radiate their nature.
[i] Its origins lie in a worship of Surya, the Hindu solar deity.
BS"D - בסיעתא דשמיא