Thursday, May 18, 2017

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Are Jewish Institutions Allowed to Teach Yoga?


by Reb Gutman Locks

Are Jewish Institutions Allowed to Teach Yoga?


     I sent this question to an online Jewish Law site. (Din on Line)  Their answer follows.



      There are a number of types of yoga all of which come from Hinduism and definitely include spiritual teachings that contradict the Torah. Almost always such spiritual teachings come along with the physical exercise classes. However, today there are a number of places where just the physical exercises are taught with no spiritual teaching included. Knowing that the word yoga comes from and most often is associated with Hinduism, can a Jewish school invite someone to teach just the physical exercises of yoga classes to the Jewish students and announce that they are teaching yoga in the school? I fear that others will hear that yoga is being taught in a Jewish school and go study it themselves from a source that almost always will bring along the idolatry. I am not asking if the physical non spiritual exercises are alright. I am asking can the Jewish school advertise that they teach yoga. Thank you



     I don't really know your situation so it is difficult to give a definitive answer, but in general I agree with your fear. Whenever we are dealing with the public, if there is something that can be mixed up, we have to be careful not to give the public the wrong messages. Besides, the students, who will get accustomed to practicing yoga, may then go to another place and learn it in the wrong way. A third reason that it is not advised is because part of the job of an orthodox school is to teach students how to live it sets a dangerous precedence. (Without getting into the halachic aspect of the issue), if the people want to do things like this in private, that is one thing. If it is technically permitted, that is their decision. For a school to teach this to the children is something else. As an example, for a school to serve bacon chips; although technically they may be kosher, but it is giving the children a message that is risky for them to learn.



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