I know it may seem like a ”stretch” to correlate the two, but if you will allow me some ”flexibility”, I’ll show you how.
Really? The Chronicles Of Narnia?
During World War II, C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, read a series of essays on BBC Radio that were later published as a work entitled “Mere Christianity”. Lewis had converted to Christianity from being an atheist. As a Professor at Oxford, it seemed as if Lewis was trying to win over some of his intellectual peers whom had remained atheists. His approach was to break it down to its most simple elements. He relied heavily on the simple notion that being Christian had most to do with following moral law: to steal or murder is immoral. And that to be a moral person was to exercise, “Mere Christianity”. This certainly feels like it would encompass all religions; and at that point in his argument, it seems Lewis was more defending “Theism” versus “Atheism”.
Given the recent debate about the existence or not of religious overtones of yoga, it is tempting for me to do the same: break yoga down into its simple components.
Yoga In Its Simplest Form...
Congregating as a community at a regular interval, engaging in an activity that is uplifting and makes us feel unburdened and lighter when we are through. Those are the simple components of what makes up yoga. Many liken that to another activity with similar actions – religion. Be it to attend church, a synagogue, mosque or temple. Many practitioners sense the parallels between the two and find yoga to be a spiritual undertaking. So, the inclination to seek religion through the practice of yoga seems natural.
While most practitioners turn to Hinduism because of its coexistence with yoga in their shared geography of origin, India, and the fact that the first several generations of yogis happened to be Hindu, there is actually nothing that demands it be one religion over another.
We applaud the examples of this already around us. Yoga Shalom is yoga with Jewish liturgical prayer (check it out here: Temple's class combined yoga with prayer). Or yoga instructors raised within Christianity whom preserve their belief in Christ (Yoga prodigy seeks joy and finds it).
Yoga is not a way to practice Hinduism. It is mere spirituality.