Having an urge to be fit and healthy is a natural human desire. And to fulfil that desire, a natural human process is to explore different mods of exercising.
There are more than one ways to achieve fitness goals but if you are naturally attracted to one particular approach, maybe you shouldn’t look in any other direction and focus on that one thing.
Another thing is, people have different fitness goals. Not everyone wants to look muscular and heavy and there are fitness enthusiasts who just want to be flexible and mentally sharp.
They don’t necessarily need to go to the gym and play with heavy loads. For them, a simple fitness practice like yoga can be really helpful to achieve flexibility and mental fitness.
But there is a sense of curiosity surrounding the subject of Yoga among Muslims.
Is Yoga a permissible practice in Islam? And before it, what yoga even is? where did it originate from? what is the difference between yoga and meditation? are they both the same? and is it permissible to practice all yoga asanas or some of them?
All these questions will be thoroughly answered in this blog article.
One thing we have to understand is that we are living in a social environment and it is built with people and people can have opinions which are likely to differ.
What is Yoga?
The literal meaning of yoga is “union”. To some people it is a philosophy, others take it as a part of their spiritual journey. In terms of fitness, yoga is the practice of body and mind to keep it fit and healthy.
Yoga is a common cardio practice that involves various physical postures, breathing techniques, and relaxation for the body and mind. The aim of practising yoga is to bring harmony between body and mind. Which is served by relieving stress and anxiety, and induce flexibility and physical fitness.
Origin of Yoga
Yoga is originated in India at the very dawn of civilization, thousands of years ago. It’s a religious philosophy and practice of Hindus which is further adapted by Sikhs and Buddhists. It was found as a draft written in Vedas which is an ancient transcript of Sanskrit.
It is believed that it was taken to the west in the 1890s or around this time when monks started to preach their knowledge.
Similarly, different Muslim scholars visited Hindus and adapted yoga as cardio.
However, with the advent of time, the concepts of yoga are also changed. As some take it as a religious practice, others take it as a way of spiritual journey whereas some take it as an exercise for relaxation.
Difference between Yoga and Meditation
Meditation can be considered as part of yoga but yoga and meditation are somehow different. Meditation is solely based on peace of mind, thinking, and concentration. It does not involve physical activities as it works your mind solely. While yoga is a complete set of physical activities with some mantras to connect you to spiritual forces.
Meditation is most likely permissible in Islam and is also recommended in Islam. It can improve your concentration in prayers. While the mantras and some poses of yoga are argued by Muslims. If you are using some words during yoga that are inappropriate or differ from any Islamic teaching, they are not permissible in Islam.
Yoga and Islamic Perspective
Yoga is a very controversial topic on which there are conflicts among Muslims. Some just see it as a religious practice of Hinduism while others take it as a philosophy relevant to spirituality. While some just consider it an exercise to keep themselves fit and healthy.
However, meditation is promoted in Islam. There are some Muslims who forbid some of the poses while accepting other poses. Islam is a diverse religion. Some of the practices advised to Muslims to perform are now proven beneficial biologically.
If we take a look at Salah, it is also beneficial. We move our body. We have different poses that help our body in different aspects. Islam does ask us to ponder about the things in the world. Also, we intend to judge before our action. So if your intentions are solely based on your physical and mental health there is nothing wrong with practising yoga.
If I state my perception, I think it is not wrong to practise yoga if you consider it a type of cardio. You can practice it without relating to religion. Islam always promotes Muslims to look after their body and mind.
Moreover, if someone finds it objectable to practice yoga outdoors then they can practice indoors. And you can exclude the poses that you find uncomfortable or you are not sure about.
Yoga In terms of Spiritual Philosophy
Let’s look at this narration and relate it with Islam. Typical yoga does have some mantras that involve words in Sanskrit. If you know the meanings, and there is nothing wrong with them. It’s totally OK to say them but if you are not understanding the words or the words have some wrong meaning, it is unacceptable for Muslims to practice those words to gain some spiritual benefits.
If yoga is an exercise for you then there is no need to read the mantras.
If you see the modern yoga approach, it does not include those mantras. You can just meditate and can read Islamic content. You can practice it for sake of improving your focus for performing your religious practices.
Poses of Yoga in Islamic Perspective
One of the major reasons for the opposition of yoga is that some of its poses like Surya Namaskar are not accepted by muslin scholars. As they are considered as a sign of worshipping different elements as a God. While Muslims believe in the oneness of Allah. So if you are considering yoga as a source of physical fitness then you can exclude those poses. It is not necessary to perform every step. You are free to do only those postures which you think are compatible with your religion. In modern yoga practices, many such poses are not taught as they are offensive to different religions.
So there is nothing wrong with practising yoga as you are not practising a religion. You are just adapting something beneficial for your health. It is not haram if you are considering it as an exercise or a source of physical and mental health.
Do meditation and yoga to a limit that your religion is allowing. It works your mind solely. While yoga is the complete set of physical activities with some mantras to connect you to spiritual forces. Meditation is most likely permissible in Islam and is also recommended in Islam. It can improve your concentration in prayers.