Yoga in the Eyes of Two Moslem Young Men

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So I stumbled upon someone’s Instagram feed after he liked my yoga photos. What hit me was this 20 something young men is an Indian but he is a really proud moslem living in Mysore, the capital of yoga, and I left him a comment asking his opinion on yoga and his (our) faith, Islam. Can the two go hand in hand? This is his answer.

“There are many aspects of yoga. It’s practice has been predominantly  done by hindu saints. Thus they have always chanted shlokas and scripts from their religious books during it’s practice. This is still followed today.

 I don’t do it! I do yoga for the physical and mental benefits of it!

Many people think that it cannot be done with out it. (show them my pictures! ;-)) There is also certain argument about Surya namaskar or the sun salutation. They say how can you bow and pray to the sun being a muslim?! However I think it’s all about your intention. If my intention was to pray to the sun, then I would be wrong as a muslim. My intention is purely the physical benefits of it.

I don’t touch anyone’s feet before my practice as it would be against the way of islam.”

I replied:

” That’s more or less just like how I have approached yoga so far. I

cannot agree more with you. I’m more interested in the physical and

fitness benefits of it rather than its spiritual aspect. So when I was

asked to teach last week (this is the first time I teach yoga), I just

told my student I wouldn’t chant or involve invocation in the practice

I lead.

I am now writing a book in collaboration with some yogi and yogini

friends, so when I saw your Instagram feeds, it just hit me! Because

we are a RARE species in yoga realm! Seriously, not many moslem young

men practice yoga because it’s considered a feminine type of sport

(because you cannot bulk up with only body weight,haha). They prefer

running, jogging, weight lifting, or anything else but yoga is mainly

for chicks.

So how long have been doing yoga, Abdul? I myself started in the late

of 2010. Yoga is really a type of exercise I am into because I used to

hate sports before (including soccers, running).

Wow, that’s a great prayer you have. I just always pray by heart

before practice, that I do yoga for the sake of my health, fitness so

I can worship and devote myself to Allah better. And you know, by

applying deep breathing I can focus more on my prayers. So pranayama

really works here for me. Haha. How about you?

Are you planning to be a teacher? I think there would be a market

there for moslem/halal yoga.”

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He then again replied:

” That’s great!! You are teaching too!!!! Alhamdulillah!

You will be unique in your way of teaching! That is just awesome! 

A lot of my friends too tell me that it’s not a high intensity sport. I just challenge them for a session of ashtanga yoga and believe me, a lot of guys who are fighting fit struggle to finish it! 

And for those guys who are bulking up, I feel sad for them! They work their muscles till they are sore and then give their body artificial proteins in the form of powders to fix it! that’s so artificial and unhealthy! 

I am glad you are writing a book. Please do write about how yoga is for all religions and for young men too! May Allah grant you success with it and make your path to completing it easy! I hope to find a copy when you are done Inshallah!

That is true about Pranayama. It does effect your namaz for the better. You are able to focus more.”

I answered:

” Yeah, it’s my competitive edge actually. LOL

It’s true because lots of suspicion is around because yoga is deemed

very closely associated with Hinduism. I think it’s just like

chalisthenics, but with more internal focus and emphasis on breathing.

I learned the philosophy too but at the end of the day, it all is just

knowledge so I can tell my students some stories that eventually build

more warm relationships between us and break the ice. Haha..I

sometimes need to break the ice because yoga gets too serious

sometimes. A little laughter and humor would help. And the moral of

the story and the wisdom of the stories. Here in Java, just like

India, we also read Mahabaratha, Ramayana and some words in Indonesian

are also derived from Sanskrit. So I guess, there should be a

distinction between yoga as a cultural product, just like those

folklores with universal values, and yoga as a spiritual and religious

practice. Some people in some cases cannot see the distinction,

because yes I know it’s quite subtle.”

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