Is Yoga a Religion? Why You Can Practice Yoga No Matter What Your Beliefs Are
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Is Yoga a Religion? Why You Can Practice Yoga No Matter What Your Beliefs Are

Will

Posted on May 18, 2022 #yoga

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Yes, we’re going there. Why on earth would we decide to approach the very controversial topic of religion and yoga? 

Because we will forever maintain that yoga is for everyone, no matter what you believe in! The MyYogaTeacher team from top to bottom is passionate about the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of yoga, and we don’t want anyone to feel like they can’t practice yoga because of their religious beliefs.

As a matter of fact, part of a yogic life is respecting others’ personal beliefs and accepting them where they are in those beliefs.

That’s why I wanted to talk about how yoga is not a religion and why you can practice yoga no matter what (or who) you believe!

Here at MyYogaTeacher, we have members from all walks of life, religions, and all ages, shapes, sizes, and abilities! MyYogaTeacher offers 1:1 classes with authentic yoga instructors from the birthplace of yoga, India! And if you haven’t experienced virtual private yoga classes yet, MyYogaTeacher makes 1:1 classes affordable and accessible! PLUS, with your membership, you get:

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Let’s dig in!

yoga isn't a religion

Yoga isn’t an organized religion

While many yogis (not just Hindus or Buddhists) use their yoga practice to grow in their spirituality and/or relationship with God, it does not mean yoga is a religion. No one is worshiping yoga or praying to yoga, or using yoga as a means to get to heaven. 

Yogis do, however, use yoga and meditation to better connect with (or reconnect with) their religious beliefs. This is because yoga and meditation help you strip away those things in your life that do not promote your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Things that get in the way of healthy forms of spirituality.

Yoga is a philosophy. A philosophy that promotes good health and a harmonious existence.

no religious requirements in yoga

There are no religious requirements in yoga

While there are many forms and styles of yoga, some that incorporate chanting even, everything within the practice is optional. You are still a yogi if you don’t say “Namaste” with prayer hands at the end of your practice. You’re still a yogi if you choose not to chant. And you’re still a yogi if you don’t participate in nonphysical forms of meditation.

Yoga has no religious requirements to be able to practice it! 

There are no requirements to believe in a god or to perform any religious rituals. But it can help you deepen your existent faith.

You don’t need to be Buddhist or practice Taoism to practice martial arts, right? Neither do you need to believe in any form of religion to practice yoga!

religious freedom in yoga


You are free to practice (or not) any religion in yoga

When you practice yoga, you are free to interpret God in a way that you believe to be true – Allah, Jesus Christ, Vishnu, Mother Nature. You are also free to not believe in God at all. Additionally, physical movements (yoga poses) are not religious unless they are accompanied by a faith-based intention.

This means you get to attach whatever religion you choose to your yoga practice! Or no religion at all.

Celebrating Halloween does not make you Wiccan. Practicing yoga does not make you a Hindu. However, if your intention on Halloween is to practice the Samhain ritual, then that is a faith-based intention that corresponds with your beliefs, making your celebration of Halloween religious. 

If you choose to practice yoga as a means to pray to and draw nearer to the (Christian) God, that is a faith-based intention as well. It corresponds with your beliefs and makes your yoga practice a component of your religion.

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Yoga is spiritual, which is much different from religious

By definition, the word “religion” means a personal set or institutionalized system of religious beliefs and/or practices. This is vastly different from the word “spirituality,” which denotes an experience of something larger than yourself…living life in a way that is sacred and reverent. 

Spirituality is an inward journey. Religion is external.

By and far, yoga (ancient and modern) is renowned for being a spiritual practice. While it is derived from several religions – Buddhism, Hindu, and Jainism – it does not contradict any religious belief systems.

What you make your yoga practice is what your practice becomes. Whether that’s spiritual or not.

Hopefully, this information helps you better understand yoga and how it can be incorporated into your life no matter what your beliefs are! There is so much freedom in having the opportunity to grow in your spirituality and religious beliefs if you choose or to practice yoga and not practice a religion at all.

The MyYogaTeacher community is full of expert, experienced yoga instructors from India because we feel deeply in upholding the authentic, traditional yoga experience while also weaving in modern day practices.

Not a MyYogaTeacher member? Whether you’re interested in teaching yoga, starting yoga, or growing in your yoga journey, MyYogaTeacher is a great place to do it!

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