Is Yoga a Religion?

Raja Yoga 2 Comments

We could also ask is Religion Yoga?

In my recent experience at the Yoga Journal Conference, I listened to an esteemed panel that pondered this very question, is yoga a religion.

Panel Participants:

The panel discussed many aspects of this many sided topic.

One approach is to look at the Root Meanings of the words:

Religion: defined by webster-

  • the service and worship of God or the supernatural, committment or devotion to religious faith or observance
  • a personal set or insitutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, faith or observance
  • scrupulous conformity
  • a cause, principle or system of beliefs held with ardor and faith

The Latin root is “religio” which means to link.

Yoga:defined by webster-

  • a Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind and will in order that the self may realize its disctiction from them and attain liberation (I agree with this definition in part, and only from a certain point of view)
  • a system of exercizes for attaining bodily or mental control and well being

The sanskrit definition means yoking, or to join.

Hmm, so we have a root meaning of link and a root meaning of join. So if we take root meaning we can find the words synominous.

Now where the rubber meets the road with this question, in the panel discussion, is when a person attends a yoga class, purely for the purpose of well being. Is this person taking part of a religious activity???

I stated the following to the panel, then posed a question:

  • I’ve seen it best written that the one true religion is the worship of God’s spirit
  • Is yoga a worship of God’s spirit?

There response was that it depends upon the intention of the practice. Now for me personally, my yoga practice is a means to worship God’s spirit, and connect with my True Self, my Sat Nam, my Higher Self, on a daily basis. It is very much so a form or religious expression for myself.

This is my approach to this question, but I needed more input on this to form an opinion, so I chatted with a friend of mine. And the discussion took place along the following lines:

The reasons’ one turns to religion or yoga have to do with the benefits associated with each. The primary benefit of religion, is the concept of an after life eternal. Why do we attend church? So that we may live forever after we pass on from this life.

Now yoga on the other hand, has very much to do with the now, the Eternal present moment, for in that moment all past causes have been manifest and all future potentialities lie.

Perhaps we can view Religion, as being destination focused, and yoga as being path focused. Every religion has a very straight, and sometimes strict, line with destination in mind. Where Yoga has many branches, like a vine that weaves to and fro, they flow in and out of one another, they cross the straight line paths of traditional religions and they all end up back to Source.
One aspect of some religions which tends to frustrate me is the concept that if you pick the wrong path, then its pitch forks baby. This just simply does not make sense. If one believes in a Single God, then that God is inclusive by His very nature, for how can things exist within One which He does not believe in.

We find elements of Yoga across all religions. It’s almost as though yoga works to link the commonalities across those religions. And so we have joining (Yoga), linking (Religion) to Source. (In this context the Source is inclusive of afterlife.)


Is Yoga a Religion?

“It is and it is not. In religion you have to believe something and in yoga you have to experience what you want to believe” Yogi Bhajan.

I believe in the Spirit of God and I seek to experience that which I believe. How can one experience that which they believe, if the primary focus is afterlife?

It turns out that there are many right answers to this question, which is the one right answer. Just as their are many right paths/branches to religion/yoga, which are the right paths/branches.

And so if you ask me, is Yoga a Religion, I would say, Is Religion Yoga?

Yoga Journal Conference, Lake Geneva WI

Science of Yoga No Comments

Yoga Journal Conference

Event type: Conference

Date: 2007-05-06


Rating: 5 out of 5

This was the most exciting conference I have ever been to, okay so it was my first Yoga Journal Conference, but never the less it was fantastic. The energy and positive vibration is still permeating throughout my being.

It’s always great to gather so many individuals that are committed to improving themselves and humanity as a whole for that matter. The benefits to be had through group practice are emense and beyond the comprehension of even some of those in attendance.

Here’s a run down of our agenda for the event:

- Kundalini Yoga Sadhana 4:30 am (That’s right, this will get ya up in the mornin.)
- Kundalini Yoga Class with Gurmukh (We had such a great class in LA we had to go back for more)
- Kundalini Yoga Class with Gurmukh (and more, she is a blessed, gifted teacher and guru)
- Is Yoga a Religion panel discussion (excellent panel)
- Detox Flow by Seane Corn (great class, and challenging as I rarely do Vinyasa, it capped off a one week cleanse diet nicely)
- Day off to rest and wow did my legs appreciate that
- All Day Intensive Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the 8 Limbs of Yoga presented by Gary Kraftsow and Gurmukh (I absolutely loved this all day class and highly recommend it for anyone looking to deepen their understanding of the Yoga Sutras, its really about deepening an understanding of how one can lead a more connected life)

I got to meet some great Kundalini Yoga Teachers, Siva Singh and Shabad Kaur Khalsa, from Spirits Rising Yoga in Chicago too! As well as bumped into my teacher, Lisa Lawrence, from Madison.

I was fortunate to have shared this experience with my almost bride Jamie. Yoga is ever present in a marriage, for Yoga is Union.

This was a great, life changing experience, one that I hope others can experience. If you get a chance to go to this yoga conference in your neck of the woods, by all means take it.

I’ll be following up with post info from some of the specific sessions I attended.

I plan on attending next time the conference comes to Lake Geneva

Stay tuned

Krishan Singh


Dalai Lama, Madison WI Public Lecture

Raja Yoga 18 Comments Kundalini Yoga & Chakras Balancing

Compassion the Source of Happiness

Event type: Conference

Date: 2007-05-05

Rating: 4 out of 5


Was the first feeling evoked by His Holinesses’ presence and the large audience gathered before him.

I was recently very fortunate to particpate in a public lecture here in Madison, WI given by the Dalai Lama. Overall it was a very good session, however, it was sometimes difficult to fully understand what the Dalai Lama was expressing in English, which made it rather mentally difficult to ponder the deeper meanings he conveyed.

Here are some notes I took during the discussion. I hope you may find them to be of value to you! When I read, The Art of Happiness, my outlook on life took a step up a notch.

- First and formost His Holiness is extremely humble, he has a very relaxed, peaceful demeaner about him.

- Compassion is the source of Happiness, and happiness is a basic human right. All of humanity deserves to be free from suffering.

- Human beings are unique to this planet due to our mental capacity, the concept of memory is interesting for a memory can serve as a source of happiness, or a source of pain

- Visualization (imagination) is a powerful human ability- (My perspective is that we shall se this more in more in the near future as our meditation processes evolve and become more main stream)

- His Holiness encourages humanity to take care of the Earth and respect nature, wahoo bring on the tree hugging ;-)

- A challenge is the concept that a one century old event can cause disturbances even now

- The more colorful a life is the better

- Love, compassion and patience should be cultivated (The Dalai Lama is truly amazing, where ever he goes he shares these with people)

- Our society has caused different types of friends, they are not all true friends, some are only friends of Power, or only friends of Money, if the Power or the money is to go away, then the friendship goes away. These are not true friends and in these relations the appropriate aspects are not cultivated.

- Fear is the underlying root of suffering, the underlying root of anger, when we get to the bottom of our emotions and uncover the fear we can reduce the fear, this increases confidence and increases the Will

- Compassion strenghtens the immune system (It is said that when we give a vacuum of sorts is created, and that by law the universe has not choice but to fill that vacuum with something, a strong immune system must come with the vacuum as well.)

- Emotions tend to interlink, so a memory or image of one thing can spark feelings of another (this would be true in fear and true in love)

- Besing consistent, weather enemy or friend, that’s true compassion (love your enemies)

- Mothers provide their babies milk, this is a most basic concept of compassion, this gift or relation between Mother and child, builds the childs capacity for compassion.

- His Holiness has a strong determination in the early morning to shape his mind for the rest of the day

- The Dalai Lama stated strongly that we are currently dealing with several man made problems and if Man made the problems, then we can unmake them- (strong applause from crowd)

- We must think of the human family and find solutions through peaceful means (strong applause)

- We must educate the younger generation, so that they can gracefully change the world when they are the leaders in a society that will be different than what it is today (this struck a cord with me, a while back one of my teachers said I could play a role with children, of course the word children can mean a lot of things when dealing with esoteric language, regardless I have an idea to help children, so thank you Mr. Dalai Lama for germinating the seed.)

Please note, none of these notes are exact, they are based on my interpretation, and understanding so I apologize if they are not spot on.

That’s it for my notes, there are some great words to live by in there and some concepts that bear reflection.

What’s your reaction to the event notes?


Spring Cleanse- Prep for Spiritual Work

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I am on day 3 of a spring cleanse of my system through diet. Suzanne Monroe, recently gave a tele conference on how to cleanse the system. The primary diet changes are no white sugars.

Let me tell ya, I never realized how addicted I was to white sugar, until I took it out of my diet. Overall I am very pleased with the diet, aside from a craving or two. It consists of eating healthy and I am a fan of that, more vegies, more fruits and I can even have organic protien (chicken and fish which are my saving graces for this diet, I realize a traditional yoga diet does not include meat, but I am not there yet.)

The all natural Fruit Smoothies are a lot of fun to make and drink!

This Spring Cleanse is actually well timed for a very busy spiritual weekend ahead. This Friday I go to listen to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

And then on Saturday I am headed to the Lake Geneva Yoga conference.

A rather synchronistic event occured to me then, I received a Yoga Journal e-letter that mentioned a recent public teaching given by the Dalia Lama. The Yoga Journal is putting on the conference I am attending right after I listen to the Dalia Lama’s public lecture. Talk about being in the flow.

I am interested to see if this cleanse can help to faciliate a higher vibration, and I suspect that the events I have planned for this weekend will be good testing grounds.

Be well

Krishan Singh

aka Hershel