Yoga – An Exercise or Philosophy
Many Muslims often ask this question whether doing yoga is permissible or not or even if it is a sin to practice yoga.
There are many ways in which anyone can adapt to the beneficial part of the practice and leave the philosophical aspects which do not resonate with their personal. That applies to everything in life even on giving charity; although highly valued and prescribed virtue that if don’t with the right intention can cleanse or soul and wealth but if the intent is to gain praise in the world will be of no use.
Practising yoga has come under an intense debate in Muslim cultures around the world; where different religious authority figures had a different stance. Mostly consider it deeply pantheistic roots in Hindu/Buddhist religious practice. According to an Al Azhar university scholar Dr. Ujail Al-Nashami that doing yoga for healthy exercise and meditation is permissible, while one can easily avoid the religious parts in the practice. Thereby, yoga remains as merely a sport like other sports by effectively tailoring it and cutting out the Sanskrit chants and religious themes.
In modern times it is looked at as anything that is going to enhance the way we look aesthetically. Interestingly the benefits go far beyond than just a toned body. The origin matters little when people associate yoga with a fitness studio than a temple. Professionals promote different types of yoga for different needs. Vinyasa and Hatha are at the core of most practices Recently Power or weight loss has picked popularity. Aerial yoga has an acrobatic side. Corporate, prenatal, children and therapeutic are various genres of yoga that studios all over the world offer.
Yoga is an activity which is a combination of poses, breathing techniques and meditation. These poses take their inspiration from nature i.e animals, plants, earth, birds and so on. Because humans being, five thousand years ago were closer to nature they were mesmerized by it and tried to find benefits from nature directly. The language was still evolving so the poses were given names from among different elements of natural habitat. As the practice evolved and human being invented tools so did the names of yogic practices for example plough pose or wheat grinding mill pose.
A yoga practice engages all the muscles in the body, unlike many other sports. In fact, it is one of the complementary practices that increase athletic performance by increasing the range of motion of your joints.
Stretching improves flexibility and consequently improve the performance in sports and other physical activities whether it be day to day housework or occupational needs. Stretching opens up your body in a way that brings about feeling of relaxation.
Decrease Your Risk of Injuries
Yoga poses involve movements that help your muscles and joints move through their full range of motion. Regular and systematic stretching enables your muscles to work most effectively. Stretching also increases blood flow to the muscle so you are less likely to experience muscle cramps. Increased flexibility in the body helps you to withstand more physical stress making you less tired with physically demanding chores. Yoga allows the body to have proper alignment by correcting any imbalances.
Increase your flexibility to allow greater movement in your body you’ll be able to perform better physically.
Corrects the Posture
Bad posture can have health consequences such as sore muscles, changes in vertebrae, cervical issues and compromised lung function. Yoga poses help to correct the posture. Help muscles regain strength. Correct posture opens the chest for better breathing capacity.
Yoga Improves Self Confidence
Being non-competitive by its core philosophy; yoga greatly motivates people to improve themselves physically when they see the benefits. In a class, situation participants feel empowered with positive body image by feeling less urged to compare themselves with others. They realize that everyone falls short every now and then. People try to connect with others and overcome the feeling of inadequacy. Practising in the group gains more support. It pushes people to learn new skills which consequently give them the feeling of empowerment
Balancing Poses Help Develop Focus
Success in balancing poses can only be achieved with being in the moment and acute focus. The instant we lose focus, we fall over. There is an unavoidable need for sharp concentration in balancing poses. Balancing can clear up the mind and inculcate a deep sense of calm even though it requires intense and steady alertness. Poses like Eagle, Half moon, tree, dancer, warrior III poses necessitate us to revive our focus from moment to moment. This sustained effort for razor-sharp focus when successful, bring synchronicity into our flesh and bones with nerve impulses, emotions by eliminating unnecessary thoughts.
You can almost hear and inner critique if you fall out of Tree pose when practising alone, “What’s wrong with you? It’s a simple balance you should be able to do this!” When we’re in a class, the same situation can cause such a feeling of inadequacy greatly disproportionate to the physical event. We are greatly distressed and our ego gets hurt when we feel out of control on losing balance, and the ego hates to lose control—especially when we know we can be judged by our peers.
Improving our coordination and balance in various postures benefits us as we age.
Yoga emphasizes breathing consciously. Yoga breathing techniques insists to concentrate on inhaling and exhale through the nose but very rarely through the mouth. The benefits of various breathing techniques have been extensively researched. These techniques when incorporated within the practice benefit your health in a variety of different ways.
Slowing breath systematically helps to rearrange our chaotic and unorganized thoughts into more organized one thus lowering sudden panic and anxiety.
Improve Lung Function and Capacity
More oxygen you have in your body, the easier your body produces the energy. Right breathing helps to utilize the 100 % lung capacity. People mostly get relief from respiratory issues like asthma and bronchitis.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Yoga brings a clearer sense of emotional and physical awareness. Mental clarity attained through breathing techniques brings people into stronger relationships from clear reasoning. That helps with triggers from human interactions.
Better Athletic Performance
As mentioned above stretching improves flexibility likewise breathing capacity enhance athletic performance. There is a whole of precise scientific research and information to back up the claims.
Repetition of Certain Sounds
Sometimes posed as a chant. It is not Om ; it is ‘Aum’. These are three separate sounds AA, U, MM. It conveys concepts of ‘Omnipresence’ the presence of God everywhere, just as the sound creates an echoing resonance.
- The sound A is generated from the back of the throat.
- U comes from the middle of the vocal cords called the palate.
- Sound of M ends at the Lips and expands in nasal and labial.
At a physical level, the Aum syllable addresses the whole of the vocal instrument: we open the mouth (‘a’), move the lips closer to each other (‘u’) and then close the mouth (‘m’) activating the larynx fully. ‘A’ resonates in the stomach and chest, ‘u’ in the throat and chest and ‘m’ in the nasal cavity, skull and brain. By creating the sound of ‘Aum’ we move the energy from the abdomen up to the brain.
Yoga is a lifestyle. We make changes in our daily life so they all come together to bring the difference in our overall well being. Such as food choices and at the times we need to take food. Sleep, relationship with nature and fellow humans, Ayurvedic treatment methods. All sum up to create a lifestyle in which Yoga has supplemental value.
Although we can find loads of articles and published research matter on internet one must be reminded that incident, when Prophet Musa ‘alayhis salam searched for a cure for his illness and Allah subhanahu Taala, guided him to a tree and he was cured. When he needed to use the same remedy it did not bring relief. That’s when Allah reminded him that all cures are from him.
Yoga has many benefits but they will only work if Allah wills. Allah did not create our body for sitting only. We abuse this blessing and only realize it when we find ourselves visiting the doctor’s office.