Yoga as a tool for every individual

“Yoga, as a way of life and a philosophy, can be practiced by anyone with inclination to undertake it, for yoga belongs to humanity as a whole. It is not the property of any one group or any one individual, but can be followed by any and all, in any corner of the globe, regardless of class, creed or religion.”

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois ~

“Yoga is the union of body, mind and soul”.
This has been mentioned a couple of times during our philosophy classes. I’m a Muslim and I understand how some of my peers can get a little uncomfortable going deeper into yoga and taking it beyond a physical workout by understanding the philosophy/history behind it. It’s an intriguing topic for me personally as there are so many parallels I can draw with it and my faith. In fact I feel it has allowed me to find out more about my religion and discover things I never really knew about. The curiosity in me got me to research on “Yoga & Islam” and I came across this really interesting article on ‘The Yoga of Islamic Prayer“.
We were taught on Chakras in one of the lessons and how asanas and various sound vibrations can help to activate some of our chakras. I was curious to find out how this is relevant to my faith and what I discovered was that in Islam, the positions in our daily prayers can actually help to open up the chakras too (although it may sound strange linguistically), together with the recitation of the vowels in the verses which sends vibrations in our bodies. The Muslim prayer consists of five positions and each position corresponds with a (simplified) yoga position. Having this knowledge from both sides actually helps me to enhance my religion than to pull me away from it.
In fact, having to cast away all our worldly thoughts and being able to focus on the prayer itself is also something that we need to practice in yoga – during meditation and the asana practice.
In fact I believe most religions can relate to yoga philosophy too –  having to achieve that moment or state where your mind starts to slow down and bring you to the present moment in the stillness of the mind. For me, it is a tool that can help me focus inwardly.
Another takeaway from the yoga philosophy lessons is the 8 limbs forms of the Ashtanga Yoga practice, particularly Niyama (freedom from all observances) – Santosha, which is being in the state of contentment by not being overly happy or sad and just enjoying each present moment in consciousness. I’ve the tendency to think/feel that happiness comes from external sources and santosha is something that I constantly need to remind myself that true contentment only comes from within you.  It’s not as easy as it sounds but it’s definitely something I’m slowly training my mind and heart to do.
~ Farah Lyna H.

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