Friday, February 3, 2012

If yoga really is a religion, and we do not practice it as a religion, are we going to hell?

"Hell is other people."

Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit

Just a little while ago, I was skimming through the posts that I have written over the last couple of months, and was surprised to discover that somebody had left a rather abrasive comment earlier today on this post I wrote not too long ago about whether yoga is a religion. It appears that the commenter has some really strong views about yoga being a religion, and that he or she believes that much of the yoga that is practiced in the west today focuses too much on postures and is thus a corruption of what yoga originally was.

I considered responding to the comment, but then I thought: Why? I don't think I'm going to be able to change his or her mind, nor vice versa. [Update: Okay, I did briefly respond to the comment, but in a brief way that would (hopefully) not entangle me in some long-drawn-out theological debate about whether yoga is a religion. I simply don't have the energy or inclination for any such debate...]

But really, why do people have to take themselves so seriously? Well, okay, I guess I'm guilty of this too at least some of the time: See, for instance, my previous post in which I rant about Elephant Journal editorship.

But really, think about this: Suppose I (and I suspect, along with me, many of you who are now reading this blog) am wrong about the ultimate religious status of yoga. Suppose it turns out that despite whatever we in the west have been "brainwashed" to believe, yoga really is a religion. Well... so what? Will we all go to some kind of yoga hell and burn in there for several kalpas after we die? Or maybe it's not that bad. Maybe we'll just be condemned to doing a bunch of gymnastic exercises that we think is yoga (when it's actually "just" gymnastics...) for the rest of our earthly existence. Well, again, so what? I don't know about you, but I think I can live with that. Call whatever I do every morning yoga, call it gymnastics, call it whatever; if what I'm doing works for me, what's the problem? None of this is worth getting our panties in a wad over; not especially if we're all going to hell in the end :-) 

But if none of this is worth getting our panties in a wad over, why did I just spend a good half an hour of my time writing all this (and waste a good deal of your time getting you to read this)? I don't know; I guess I just can't stop thinking and blogging (Blogito ergo sum; "I blog, therefore I am").

See you in hell, I guess :-)


  1. I'm goin in a handbasket:) Well done. I don't know if I would call Yoga a religion, maybe? I do know that its my path to feeling whole and peaceful. I feel connected to the divine whilst practicing and well after. Everybody has their opinions, if Ashtanga to be precise was a religion, we would have found out about it by know:)

    1. Going in a handbasket is not a bad way to go :-) Well, if Ashtanga was a religion, then I guess that makes me a fanatic?...