Sunday, November 13, 2011


An Alternative to Yoga

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

We are frequently asked “What’s an alternative to yoga?  We want the exercise and body benefits without the negative spiritual involvement!”

Pilates seems to be a healthy system with no spiritual implications.

They say:

Pilates is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century. As of 2005, there were 11 million people practicing the discipline regularly and 14,000 instructors in the United States.

They use the mind to control the muscles. It is a body conditioning routine that helps to not only build flexibility, but also strength, endurance, and coordination in the legs, abdominals, arms and back.

Pilates offers the stretching and exercise benefits of yoga, breathing control as well as mind-body connection focus (for muscle control), without any spiritual, meditative or religious associations.

Let us know how it works for you.


  1. Hi Reb Gutman,

    As you tell us that it is dangerous to practice meditation, I was wondering if you had the same opnion towards the jewish meditation techniques that Aryeh Kaplan teaches in his book "Jewish Meditation: A practical Guide"

  2. I never said that it is dangerous to practice meditation. I said that there are dangerous forms of meditation that should not be practiced. In fact, I have a book on meditation; Taming The Raging Mind—105 Jewish Meditation Techniques and the Mystical Experiences They Can Produce.

  3. Anonymous, I highly recommend both Reb Locks' book on meditation, which he just mentioned (Taming the Raging Mind), and his autobiography Coming Down to Earth. The latter is hilarious and fascinating. The meditation book is also very interesting, and has some suggestions for kosher exercises to do in place in yoga and such.

  4. Thank you for posting this recommendation. I am a big believer in the Pilates method, which I have been practicing for 8 years. I found it after searching for a form of exercise that I could do at home without the aid of special equipment. All you need is a mat, and some videos or books. Both can be obtained for free online or at your library- Mari Winsor and Brooke Siler are good, and there are also several good instructors for men. There are some variations on the Pilates method that use balls, bands, or rings, and advanced students can go to a studio and use the machines. I have found that Pilates is superior for building core muscle strength, and improving posture. Some of the moves are similar to yoga, because Joe Pilates was influenced by yoga and dance when he developed his method.

  5. Hi,

    I am a hindu and doing yoga will not convert you into hinduism. hinduism does not seek converts.Actually many gurus in india are approached by young jews seeking to be converts but most gurus tell them to stay on the path of jewish dharma.Hinduism teaches that if u are a jew then be the best jew you can be,if christian or muslim then be the best you can be.similarly practicing meditation will not make you a hindu. you can chant jewish prayers in place of hindu mantras.just chant the name of g-d,yah-weh. But it is important not to culturally appropriate yoga and try to remove the cultural source aka "cultural baggage"( a term which is very offensive). As a hindu i clearly saw the deep meditation many rabbi's reach when they are swaying in their prayers. what rabbi locks said "That's right, and just like your ten fingers, and your two arms are really one, so are all of your statues, and gods, and powers in India really all one. All is one!" is actually what hindus believe! this is similar to 10 people trying to describe an elephant in the dark,one guy feels the trunk and says the elephant is a trunk,the other touches the tail and says that is the elephant,but all are pointing towards the One elephant ! Everything comes from One G-d. There is a big misconception in the west regarding hinduism as poytheistic and it is my hope to explain away some of the confusion. Hinduism believes in One G-d and three levels of realization to view him.The best example to use is a train. Imagine it is night time,u are on the train station and far away you can see the trains light and hear the horn of the train---this is compared to the first level of realization, also known as impersonal stage in which G-d is viewed as having no form and being an impersonal force(christianity,islam,judaism).As the train comes closer to you, you can begin to see that there is some form or shape of the locomotive-this is known as paramatma realization in which the individual realizes that g-d in the form of "supersoul" is residing in living beings heart and observing,accompanying the "individual soul"(thats why when hindus say namaste greeting it means the divine in me pays respect to the divine in you). the third level of realization is when the train is clearly visible and you can see the train conductor,engineer, and people on the train----is known as bhagavan realization in which you have advanced to highest stage in which you can see g-d,speak to him, & and have a greater relationship with him.(i guess its similar to the heaven conception in abrahamic religions in which you can see g-d once u are in heaven---not sure though if this understanding of abrahamic faiths is completely right.)So Hinduism believes in One Suoreme G-d,Vishnu and he has demigods(similar to angels,archangels) serving him and administering the universe.Since not all people are on the same stage of spiritual development God accepts the devotion in which the individual worships him.thats why many people have different names for g-d and this is like children having their own name for their father -some will say pop pop,others will say dad,padre, daddy but the father God accepts all his children love no matter what they call him by..Hinduism allows people to worship the demigods according to their temperament and devotion and Supreme god accepts their devotion. there are 4 main rules in hinduism 1.Non violence-no killing of animals,or living creatures, intoxication,drugs,etc 3 No illicit sex i.e sex outside of marriage gambling. I hope this helps in clarifying some things and ask in advance for forgiveness for any offense.

    thank you


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