Tuesday, February 02, 2010



by Reb Gutman Locks and Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

In the past week we've received several emails about an article on Chabad.Org that basically says, "yoga is basically ok when it's just exercises". While we respect Chabad.Org and the author of the article, in this case we respectfully say DO A LITTLE RESEARCH...

- The physical aspects of almost any system are parve (okay if they are healthy) but in yoga their names and traditional associations are poison. Even religious Jews who study yoga, now have picked up such concepts as chakras, kundalini, prana yama (G-d help, as these are worse than poison - even for the non-Jew!).

One small example: Aish HaTorah (of all places) had a class on meditation. One student had what he called a beautiful vision. He told the teacher about the gorgeous blue light that he saw. The teacher told him to come talk to me (Reb Gutman Locks). The Hindus say that blue light in visions is the highest (The Blue Pearl), and both Yoga and Hindu practices strive for it. The Zohar Chadash says "it is the lowest color in visions and much ardent prayer must be exercised to avoid it."

I asked the student if he had learned meditation in India. No. Did he learn from someone who studied Indian ways. No Did he have any Indian books in his possession. No. Then he opened his siddur and he had drawn in it an "om" sign! "That's it" I told him. He took it out and the color never came back.

Even such a small thing like that is an antenna to pick up that spiritually corrupt stuff.

One of the "Kosher Yoga" systems had, up until last year, a huge "om" sign on the home page of his website (until I complained). He assures everyone that his Mystical Kosher Yoga (not the real name) is completely kosher, and even pulls out a letter from the Lubavitcher Rebbe (a letter at the beginning of which the Rebbe wrote this is a private matter specifically for addressing a particular mental illness - and public letters from the Rebbe on the topic specifically say it's completely prohibited) to back up his statement while showing a symbol of avoda zarah and teaching meditations.

One more story, I was teaching Jewish meditation one night and I saw a shade of that blue light come from and surround one of the students. I asked him those same questions; did he study in India and such and he answered no to all of them, but then he told me that the guy who originally taught him meditation had learned from a Hindu. The stuff is spiritual poison that can catch a Jew's soul and lead him into years of hell and worse, as my (Reb Gutman's) personal story shows.

There is nothing wrong with exercising, nothing wrong with stretching or relaxation exercises. While doing so one can meditate upon Jewish concepts, chassidus, Hashem, the Ein Sof, etc.

But as we've shown here previously on Mystical Paths, the "schools of yoga" that the "kosher yoga" teachers are from are clearly and heavily involved with avodah zarah. Yoga is steeped in Hindu concepts through and through. And by introducing religious Jews to Yoga, at the very least you're getting them interested in a topic that is, by nature, very damaging to a Jew. Does anyone believe that if someone enjoys a nice "kosher yoga" class in the Chabad house that they're not going to pick up that book on Chandrakanian Yoga when they see it on the front table at the bookstore in the mall?

As a religious Jew, tell me which one of these classes you'd attend or recommend...

- Jewish Buddhist Meditation, "gain Buddhist focus in a Jewish way!"
- Kosher Christian Prayer, "learn to pray to God like a holy roller!"
- Kabbalistic Islamic Submissivism, "kabbalah techniques for submitting to God like a good Muslim"

Dear friends, Yoga is not kosher. Don't open that door! If you want nice stretching relaxing exercises, try Pilates.


Anonymous said...

Dear Reb Gutman,
maybe the Breslev way of meditation could be an answer that fits the needs of such jews. Instead of unkosher meditation, they should safely try to talk to Hashem in personnal prayer (what Rabbi Nachman called Hitbodedut). Despite you're being a Chabad chassid, you should talk about this jewish spiritual way.

mo said...

Reb Gutman: What do you say about chi gong? Is it kosher? I learned chigong from a guy who also did yoga, although I didn't care about any of the yoga stuff.

Neshama said...

It's about time someone just said the emes!

Susan said...

yasher koach. thank you.

Anonymous said...

Reb Locks says in his book on meditation (Taming the Raging Mind) that things like yoga and qigong can be OK if they're completely divorced from any religious context (he used all caps). But as this post shows it can be dangerous anyway. His book has some examples of some postures he's come up with.

On the topic of Breslov-type approaches, well even though most Chabad-oriented people don't tend to talk about the importance of daily personal prayer to Hashem, there are definitely sources in the Lubavitcher Rebbe's work for it. For example I was reading the commentary (summarized from the Rebbe's work) in the Gutnick edition Chumash for last week's parshah, Beshalach. The Rebbe said that the Jew should think of prayer and Torah as his profession, something that he should be engaged in all day long.

Also on the topic of Breslov, here's a video from R' Lazer Brody's blog of what he calls an ancient Hebrew meditation, which looks somewhat like tai chi.


Like another commenter I'm also interesting in knowing what to do about qigong. I learned an 18 form qigong routine that as far as I know has no religious connotations and was invented 30 years ago in China. I enjoy doing it but I'm a little hesitant. If I say a little prayer to Hashem before and afterword, and try to connect to Hashem during the exercise, might that get rid of any taint in the exercise?

Akiva said...

I am not familiar with Qi Gong, however Rabbi Bar Tzadok of KosherTorah.com seems to be, and he wrote,

"Chinese medicine and its underlying philosophy are not Avodah Zarah (idolatry) as __ARE__ similar practices that come out of India." (emphasis added)

He specifically includes Qi Gong in his discussion on it.

Anonymous said...

I don't remember where, but I saw something by R' Yitzchak Ginsburg saying that one should not do things like tai chi because they can involve "impure energies." I know that both he and R' Yitzhak Fanger, an ex-reiki master and now charedi rabbi, are (separately) trying to establish kosher forms of energy healing or energy exercises.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the kosher torah link. it is interesting.

Anonymous said...

can you please print, in comments here, what is your take on the kosher torah piece on chinese medicine?

Anonymous said...

It's my understanding that the principles of Pilates derive directly from yoga. Beware!!

Jerry said...

Relativity, Physics and Astronomy are also not kosher!
Einstein was a big non-Jew, since he thought beyond 'the book'. He was also non-Christian and non-Muslim.

When people say things out of fear of losing territorial grounds, they come with the weirdest of logic. Everyone claims to hold the truth, and also claims that no one else even is close to truth!

Great hunting for truth, this way :) :)

Even getting surgical implants is non kosher, someone tell the plastic surgery industry! :) :)

Yoga is NOT the loser, no science is a loser if we ignore it. We are the losers. So, the choice is clear. A small piece of truth found in a small piece of land, or a vast body of truth found and accumulated over a vast piece of land, and preserved through hundreds of generation even orally (initially)!

Nothing personal.

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