Sunday, March 02, 2014

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Can I Do yoga?


Can I Do yoga?

by Gutman Locks


Yonatan asked:

     I live in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and I was referred to “Mystical Paths” by one of the Rabanim [rabbis] of the Chabad beis Din [Rabbinical Court] of Crown Heights. I read your article about Yoga but I am still not clear as to whether the yoga exercise poses themselves are a problem.

     I don't know anything about the philosophy of Yoga. I have ADHD and anxiety and find that just the Yoga exercise poses with the breathing are beneficial for me. Other types of exercises such as cardiovascular and weight training have not given me the same result in terms of health benefits. What is your opinion on the matter? If I am allowed, do I have to make a change to the actual Yoga poses?

Thank you for your time,


Gutman answered:

     The problem is that you are calling it “yoga.” It is not the exercises themselves. Once you call it yoga, or even think that you are doing yoga, then you and your friends become used to the idea, and yoga has become acceptable. But yoga is actually a branch of avodah zara! (idolatry)

     You can continue almost all of the exercises, but never call, or even think of it as “yoga.” Call it “stretching,” or “relaxation exercises,” or even, “beyond yoga,” or spell it backwards! But do not become accustomed to thinking that “yoga” is okay, because it is not.

     Obviously, this means that you will not use any of the names of the postures, or any of their foreign words to explain such things as breathing, focus, energy, peace, goals, or anything at all, as these words (names) spread their false religion. Remember, idolatry is not just a social problem. Their teachings mislead people into believing false spiritual concepts!

     Although no system owns any physical posture, certain moves are so strongly related to a particular system of idolatry that we should not use those moves even without association to that idolatry.

     An obvious example; as you are about to begin or end an exercise session, you would not touch the fingers of your right hand to your right chest, then your left chest, then your stomach, and then your forehead. Anyone seeing you would assume that you were (G-d forbid) a catholic because you were making the sign of the cross!

     So it is, pretty much, with the “lotus” sitting position when meditating. Also, do not sit, or focus and touch your forefingers to the tips of your thumbs. Although most people who practice yoga do not know it, the fingers are held like that to “keep the body life force from draining out through the fingers”! We know that this is sheer foolishness, and that Hashem is our “life force,” but they teach these types of things, and if you sit like that you spread such false concepts!

     To sum up; do whatever physical exercises you like, but do not do anything that associates what you are doing to yoga. Do not even call it yoga! Do not have any of their books, names, beads, pictures, concepts, and so on.

     If you have any questions about any particular idea, or object of theirs, you are welcome to ask.


Yonatan’s response:

     Thank you so much for your email it was clear. From now on I will call my exercise stretching!

     I don't have any of the things you mentioned above at home! But I was wondering if I could watch a video that teaches you these stretch poses even if the title of the video is "yo-ga"? Could I look at pictures that show you the exercise poses that are also referred to as "Yo-ga"?

    Based on what you said I am assuming that all poses are ok, but how about some of the poses like Sun Salutation? About the meditation you mentioned, I was not clear about one point! I understood that you can’t do the finger circle closing. What if i rest my hands on my lap palm down and sit in the lotus pose, is that a problem?


Gutman’s response:

     It seems that you still consider what you are doing to be yoga, so the problem is not going away. Did you spell yoga backwards?

     Since you identify that pose as “salutation to the sun” which in India today is still called “worshipping the sun” it is a problem for you. If you would have seen that pose to be just stretching like a rubber tube, then it would not be a problem. You have to completely stop using those terms or you are still doing yoga.

     If you watch a yoga video you will be getting more yoga in your head. There are plenty of better exercises out there, and you can even do them very gently and slowly and they will do the same thing for you that you like about the Indian avodah zara.

     Why are you sitting in the lotus posture meditating? Why are you calling it the lotus posture? You are still doing yoga…apparently you do not understand what I am saying.


Yonatan’s response:

     Thank you - I get it


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the clarification as I also had these very same questions regarding positions. Now, I have my answer....
    There are some positions that are pretty interesting, yet they are clearly avodah zorah- especially in their form/position. One such position is warrior, the other is salutation to the sun etc....Interesting positions and a great stretch, yet I must be honest with myself, (and therefore Hashem, too) that I would be literally saluting like a warrior and also the sun...
    I do other stretches that are just straight forward like hamstring stretches and quads and although they may actually be some sort of avodah zorah I have never felt they were. Why? My physical therapist and gym teacher taught them to me and the class as ways to improve performance and release lactic acid from the muscle tissues. So, as a result they really could possible be avodah zorah if studied and referred to by those Indian names, yet I have never come to see them in this way because they are just merely stretches and they give me no such thoughts as a result of the way and the reasons they have been taught and administered.
    In closing, if I think about it the Indian way of stretching has been created as a way to honor their "gods" and there are most likely stretches that are so basic that they are probably found in every society, however it is the honor of "gods" and the practice and the study of this (avodah zorah) that is the issue, it seems.
    Please correct me if anything I have written is amiss.


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