Monday, July 30, 2012

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Is Yoga a Spiritual Practice?

New York State says so…

NEW YORK — New York tax officials have ruled that yoga studios should be spared from sales taxes because the popular form of exercise is predominantly a spiritual practice.

The decision is a reversal for the Department of Taxation and Finance. Just a year ago it had decided yoga studios were subject to the same taxes charged at fitness centers.

But after an initial crackdown, a yoga organization got the state to reconsider and reclassify the studios.

State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal says that while many students do reap health benefits, yoga's main objective is spiritual balance.

Executive director Allison West of Yoga New York says the 4.5 percent sales tax would have made yoga classes too expensive for some practitioners.

Taxes still apply on yoga classes taught at gyms and fitness studios.

Yoga…a spiritual practice based on exercise, breathing patterns and meditation patterns.  Non-Jewish spiritual practices are not for Jews.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your brave and unpopular stance. Jewish scripture is clearly against yoga and other such practices which lead to avoda zara. The Midrash (If I remember correctly) states that the breathing patterns and body positions are tapping into an idol-worshiping society. It is just another way assimilation has destroyed our understanding of who we are as Jews and what expectations Hashem has of us.

Anonymous said...

I have very mixed feelings about your war on yoga. I was a long time practitioner of yoga, even after I became frum--I never chanted, meditated on avodah zora, or anything else. The truth is that these exercises are just that, exercises--and they can help with spiritual practice because they help you to focus, breath and concentrate, which is all good for davening, learning etc., within the Jewish faith. A lot of the exercises and stretches are more or less the same calisthenics that you see in army basic training, martial arts or gymnastics (the so-called "sun salutation" is basically the squat thrust that the drill sergeant would force us to do; the other stretches are just stretches). My own feeling is that these were common exercises done by Indian wrestlers and warriors and were adopted and modified by the priests to get them into shape for long periods of prayer and meditation. That having been said, I found that when I got too deep into it, it tended to take away from my yiddishkeit--you can become obsessive about it--and if you attend classes, there's a fairly good chance that you will be in an uncomfortable situation with everyone "omming" while you just stand there feeling awkward. Nowadays, I still do a few stretches that I take from my yoga practice a couple of times a week, and do other things, like pilates and weightlifting to stay fit. I guess the difference is that stretching and doing calisthenics so I stay fit and healthy is for me a preparation for my avodas hashem, whereas for a yogi, it becomes an avoda itself, which is probably contrary to Jewish thinking.

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