Yoga is not a Religion

Yoga is not a dharma or religion; it is a vidya or knowledge. Vidya helps us to become more positive in life and to express in more positive ways. Acquiring knowledge in Yoga is known as Yoga Vidya. If thinking, behaviour and actions are correct and appropriate, the yoga practitioner can acquire yoga vidya irrespective to which religion he or she belongs. Yoga had been mentioned since immemorial time of Vedas and Upanishads in Sanatan Hindu dharma. While yoga may be in religions, many yoga practices with body, breath and mind along with their transcendent spirituality are neither characteristic of religions nor practiced by adherents of religions.

Yoga is now recognized as a discipline of health science. Many mystical subjective perceptions were associated with yoga and nobody knew the scientific basis of yoga for thousands of years. At the outset people only preferred to practice the physical aspect of yoga because the body felt good, light, vibrant and energetic. That is how asana and pranayama in yoga practice became popular, and even today most people only know this physical aspect of yoga. Yoga was practised in this way until integral yoga was started to be practised in a holistic method to discipline human behaviour, physical well-being, mind management and spiritual understanding. At the first instance to discipline human behaviour, the principles of yama and niyama in yoga should be adopted. For the physical well-being asana and pranayama can be practised. Scientifically conducted researches have shown that many illnesses and diseases like diabetes, arthritis, asthma, heart disorders, digestive problems of the stomach and many more can be managed and controlled through yoga practices. The yogic practices of concentration in dharana and relaxation practice like yoga nidra increase awareness, observation and perception of the mental behaviour. In the state of meditation or dhyana, the yoga sadhaka can develop the spiritual understanding.

Yoga was not well known and popular worldwide even in India almost half century ago. It is now widely practiced in countries like U.S.A., China and India irrespective of whether Christianity, Buddhism or Hinduism religion predominates in that country. It is now globally accepted,”Yoga is not a Religion”.

Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda
Yoga Practitioner
Bangalore, India


About drmcpanda

Dr. Mahesh Chandra Panda, M.B.B.S.,M.D. Date of Birth:29.02.1948 Retd. (29.02.2008) Chief District Medical Officer Bargarh Orissa India
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10 Responses to Yoga is not a Religion

  1. Yoga originated in India,but not limited in a country or religion. Yoga does not mean that practicing asanas & pranayama. People generally ignore other components of Ashtanga yoga which you have rightly mentioned.Now UN council also thinking about proposal of our prime minister i.e. for ‘International Day of Yoga’. It’s definitely a science which we know less.

  2. Thanks for sharing thoughts on this interdisciplinary issue. Yoga is a comprehensive subject, which is a form of exercise, physiotherapy, mind trainer, healthy living, concentration technique, breathing exercise and has been associated with spiritual training too. Religion is certain form of way of living, practicing rituals in common way and way of building kinship in an associated group. Spirituality is way of approach towards soul, God and related Para physical aspects of thinking. The processes overlap to some extent in the sense that some features of each speciality are considered in other subjects also. Yoga is aimed at practicing various asanas to exercise comprehensively including joint, ligament and muscle health.

  3. Sir,

    It is really an interesting as well as a valuable article for the society. Though Yoga has originated from India now it has reached the whole part of the Globe. When the people get benefited they admired the practice of Yoga. It is one of the science of our country which keeps our health good. The most important point in this regard is that the Yoga cured different diseases for which the people of the world are behind the Yoga. Religion, caste, rich and poor nothing matters. Now-a-days yoga has really high impact towards the mankind. When a person gets experienced with Yoga, he forgets the stress and strain of general life. Lastly I hope this article will guide the people of our country to be the World Teacher (Biswa Guru) towards showing the way to feel presence and essence of Almighty God through Yoga.

    Kedarnath Sahu
    Science Teacher
    Sohela, Bargarh Odisha

  4. Dr.Binod Bihari Naik says:

    Respected Sir,

    ‘Yoga is not a Religion’ is a widen-sphere to describe, but I shall try my best to put my abstract in nut-shell. Yoga means union, is universal, a natural process in human being that builds him so perfect that he forgets his formal form and nature, and steps up to real formless one. So he is able to accomplish all task of Godly nature and designated as ‘Yogi’. He means individual soul unites with Cosmic-soul. This whole process is even beyond science, well delineated in Veda of Indian belief since the creation of universe, but is simplified by yoga exponent Rishi Patanjali as Ashtanga-Yoga for all, hence boundary-less to present people of all classes irrespective of sex, caste, creeds, religions , countries. As per common practice it is restricted to science that guides all human-beings to become brother-hood of all and father-hood to universal. This is the dictum of Yoga and Spirituality. But Religion ,though a part Yoga imparts indifferently and belongs to philosophy of Godly nature. By this philosophy the mass aberrant people are swept to normal by magic-voice of a descended spiritual-man(Avatar) done by Almighty that is designated as Religion as established as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Mohammedan, Christianity by different God`s men. This phenomenon is time, place and people specific and purely temporary though acts novel. Oh man! forget religion and be alert to follow the principle of all rivers merge to ocean so that you also merge with comic-soul by the process of Yoga.

    With Regards,
    Your Divine Brother
    Dr.Binod Bihari Naik

  5. On September 1, 2013 in morning hours on arriving Niagara Falls State Park, I noticed that a group of yoga practitioners were having their practice of asana and pranayama under the guidance of a yoga instructor on the open lawn by the river-lake side which confirmed my assumption that yoga is as popular in United States as in India. You may read about popularity of yoga in USA in my article Tourist Trip to Niagara USA published from New York during my US trip in 2013.

  6. Santhosh says:

    Dear Uncle,
    Om SaiRam.
    I wish you and the respected blog readers a happy Diwali.

    Thanks a lot for the beautiful article regarding the Yoga and its brief explanation. The simple words you use explain all the major concepts in an easily understandable way.

    Thanks once again.
    Kind Regards,
    Santhosh KV
    SAP-SRM Consultant

  7. Madhusudan Mahunta says:

    The history of Yoga is long and antique since immemorial time of Vedas and Upanishads . The Yoga Philosophy is peculiar to Indian culture. It is the outcome of the highest intellectual and spiritual development. In ancient India, it had been an integral part of man’s activities directed towards higher spiritual achievements.

    It is clearly evident from your article and subsequent comment that Yoga practice is not limited within India. Yoga has got the universal acceptance irrespective of nation or religion.

  8. Ashan Kumar Kanungo says:

    Dear Uncle,
    Om SaiRam.
    I wish you happy Diwali.

    Thanks a lot for the beautiful article regarding the Yoga….
    Once Again Sairam

  9. Purnima Panda says:

    Pranam kaka,

    People of many different faiths practice yoga because of it’s numerous benefits and life enrichment. Many people practice yoga for it’s asanas, it’s physical exercises and many practice some form of yoga meditation in order to contact their higher consciousness , or commune deeply with the God. A yoga devotee strives to live in an ongoing and progressively more joyous state of harmony. The devotee finds this ongoing state of harmony not only to be a wonderful way to live but an essential factor in becoming enlightened – living in higher consciousness.

  10. International Day of Yoga on June 21, 2017

    Yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India. Today it is practiced in various forms around the world and continues to grow in popularity. Recognizing its universal appeal the United Nations declared 21 June as the International Day of Yoga since 2015. The International Day of Yoga aims to raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of practicing yoga. The theme for the 2017 celebration, organized by the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, is ‘Yoga for Health.’ The theme highlights the fact that yoga can contribute in a holistic way to achieving equilibrium between mind and body. The organizers believe that this approach to health and well-being can make a direct and useful contribution to humankind’s quest to achieve sustainable development and move towards lifestyles that are in harmony with nature.

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