by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
We've gone on a bit in the past about serious concerns with yoga. Most people have heard of yoga and associate with a stretching and positional exercise system, while perhaps knowing that it has an Indian/Hindu history. It's rather popular among women, with rumors of youthful results.
What most people don't realize is yoga is a Hindu (Indian religion) based positional worship system that clearly and directly involves avodah zarah - idol worship by Jewish standards. It involves a series of stretching exercises, associated breathing methods (for the purpose of focusing Hindu bodily spiritual energies) and associated (Hindu) meditations for bringing one to Hindu godly consciousness and invoking Hindu deities.
There are a few who claim to have created kosher yoga systems, as well as a number of orthodox Jews that teach yoga (the assumption being they wouldn't teach anything inappropriate). In both cases one is relying upon an exercise expert to extract all forms of idol worship from a foreign religious system that is based upon it.
In Chabad news this past week, it was publicized that a U.S. Chabad house had a session of womens "YogaDance" with a "yoga teacher, personal trainer, lifeforce yoga practitioner for anxiety and depression and Kripalu Certified YogaDance instructor". Now I'd never heard of Kripalu YogaDance, so I did a quick google to learn more. Wish I hadn't...
Kripalu Yoga is an inquiry-based yoga methodology that promotes the awakening of the life force (prana - Hindu life energy system). Using classic asanas (body positions), pranayama (breath and fluid control), meditation (Hindu style), and relaxation techniques, Kripalu Yoga increases awareness of body, breath, and mind and encourages natural alignment.
Off the mat (it's a full Hindu oriented spiritual approach), this inquiry-based approach to life also encourages natural alignment and increased awareness-of our thoughts, words, feelings, and actions. In this way, Kripalu Yoga is the inquiry of optimal living.
Kripalu Yoga emphasizes the mechanics of yoga (proper breath and alignment) as well as the inner, spiritual dimensions of yoga practice (alignment of Hindu life energy and striving towards the Hindu methods of connecting with the Hindu gods).
Founded in 1965 by Amrit Desai (as the Yoga Society of PA) and later called Kripalu. Desai, aka "beloved teacher", is a native of Halol, India, where he met guru (guru is a Hindu priest) Swami Kripalvananda for whom Kripalu is named, and who followers believed was the 28th incarnation of (Hindu god S), the supreme god of Hinduism. During the 1970s, Desai established ashrams (Hindu temples) run by mostly unpaid followers in Sumneytown, Pa., and nearby Summit Station.
Kripalu acquired its property in 1983, and soon after, Kripalu legally became a religious order. Residents took vows of celibacy and obedience to Desai. Desai left in 1994 due to illicit activities with (opposite gender) members, and the organization became a non-profit charity in 1999.
- A word on the path of yoga. "The eight limbs of yoga are, in order, the yamas (restrictions), niyamas (observances), asanas (postures), pranayama (breath work), pratyahara (sense withdrawal or non-attachment), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (realization of the true Self or Atman, and unity with B (a Hindu god)).
- A work on "asnas", yoga positions. "Surya Namaskara, a primary asna, or the Sun Salutation, is a form of worshiping S, the Hindu sun god by concentrating on the Sun, for vitalization."
Kosher yoga? Yeah, right. Is avodah zarah (idol worship) batul b'shishim (nullified by 60:1, a way of covering a kashrus-kosher mistake with food)? (No.) Do you think there's no hint or touch of the Hindu source in kosher yoga or any other form presented by even a religious Jewish practitioner?
I'm sure those selling this material to Chabad houses and religious Jewish communities honestly believe they've koshered it and are bringing only the benefits. But clearly Hinduism is wrapped tightly and throughout all aspects of yoga.
If you want stretching exercises, try Pilates. If you're Jewish, stay away from yoga.
BS"D - בסיעתא דשמיא