Fear of Yoga

By ROGER CARLING KELLY  – Feb 21 2007  ( www.terracestandard.com )

Nothing really scary about Yoga

PEOPLE USED to think that the world was flat, that herbs were the work of the devil.  People used to think, and still do that this global warming is all nonsense, and that Yoga is a religious cult that will corrupt and poison the minds of individuals.

Someone interviewed on the CBC a little while ago stated that there is God and the devil and that the devil comes in many disguises, and that once you open the door to him you’re in real trouble – referring to Yoga being offered in the school system.

I agree that the devil is here, but not in the form of Yoga – rather in the form of ignorance and fear.  Education and knowledge are so important because ignorance is so destructive and harmful.  Most of this thinking goes along the lines of Yoga equals eastern religion equals evil.

People still holding these beliefs need to know that the world is not flat; that global warming is a reality and that Yoga is not a religious cult that they must fear or feel threatened by.

It has nothing to do with religion at all.  It has no fixed dogma, limited belief system, or creed that one must adhere to.  A person can belong to any religion, and many do, and yet still practice Yoga.

Just as an athlete can practice certain aspects of Yoga while continuing the sport of their choice, so a Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist or Sikh can practice Yoga and become a better Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist or Sikh.

This is because Yoga is a universal practice that nourishes all that is good in a person by promoting inner harmony and peace of body, mind and spirit.

It is based on the principles of truth, love, right conduct, peace and nonviolence – all universal qualities.

Yoga is a universal system of self-development that physically brings flexibility, strength and good health.

It teaches the techniques that lead to relaxation and inner peace so needed in this stressful world of today.  The breathing exercises help to harmonize, balance, and strengthen both the immune and nervous systems, leading to a healthy mind in a healthy body.

Yoga is used as a supplementary therapy in many health concerns such as cancer, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, headaches and many others.

Insurance companies pay for people to take Yoga because it has cut down considerably on medical costs.

It is a major component of the well-known Dean Ornish program of diet and exercise that has greatly contributed to the reversal of heart disease.

Meditation is something fairly new to the Christian experience but it is deeply rooted in the Christian tradition.

Many Christians have lost touch with this ancient tradition of entering the silence.

“Be still and know that I am God,” say the scriptures.

In prayer we speak to God.  In meditation we enter the silence to hear his voice in the recesses of the heart.

In Joshua 1:8, God commands his people to meditate on his word every day and night to instill obedience.  The Bible mentions meditate or meditation at least 20 times.

Yoga does not tell you what to think, say, or believe.  It has been the inspiration of all religions, including Christianity.  Yet it is not in itself a religion.  Many devout Christians practice Yoga regularly with no contradiction to their faith and beliefs.

At no time does anyone have to change their religious beliefs or faith when they practice Yoga.

Yoga does not contradict any religion but simply helps to instill a deeper and broader love for God, for one’s fellow man, for all beings and creatures, while attaining good physical and mental health.

In this day and age, children need this more than ever.  There is no need for such fear and ignorance as shown by certain Christian groups.

As the light of knowledge and wisdom dispels the darkness of ignorance, so shall the truth set us free.

Roger Carling Kelly is a Terrace natural health practitioner who has practised yoga for more than 30 years.

24 Responses to “Fear of Yoga”

  1. Antonia D'Onofrio says:

    The article by Mr. Terry is a thorough resource, and I know I will keep in on file because it is full of important in formaton. However, thinking back to the Alan Colmes debate posted in MrSikhnet a few days ago, I have confess that sometimes we preach to the choir.

    One of the major barriers for hide-bound western religionists to understanding kundalini yoga is the idea of serpent power. In the western tradition snakes are evil and symbolize the devil. In every other tradition, including the eastern tradition, snakes represent creativity and regeneration, and are often mascots of virtue. They talk, guide and advise.

    What makes this a hopeless situation (and maybe I am being too pessimistic) is that I too am preaching to the choir, right here on the blog. The hide-bound religionists will simply say that East is East and West is West, and our school children are in the West– so let’s have none of that mystic snake stuff! Why, it is unholy and unnatural! We are right! We rule! I am sad for their children, who may not ever know what their choices are.

    We need to clear a path for ourselves, but more so for people who have a genuine desire to find what yoga has to offer. That is what makes the blog a place for spiritual success in the midst of suffering and ignorance.

  2. kaur says:

    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

    A great post…Waheguru :)


  3. Jarmail Singh says:

    A great article by Roger Carling Kelly. You’ve got to remember that ignorance is ingrained into society over many generations and with the Alan Colmes situation its probably been ingrained in him since birth and the environment he’s lived in. This has probably influenced his way of thinking and understanding. As written in the scriptures ‘if one sits in the society of saints you become a saint and alternatively if you sit in the society of thieves we become a thief’.

    Instead of being too criteque of Alan we need to ask Waheguru to give him the mental power to understand the topic before giving an analysis. As Antonio states earlier Christanity itself has many saints etc that have communicated with God through meditation.

    With folded hands I ask Waheguru to forgive me if I have in any way offended any person or persons, that simply has not been my intent.



  4. Stellan says:

    Dear brothers and sisters

    I dont know you and you dont know me. But reading the posts and comments in your Community I feel like being at home and this is why I start my comment like that. I hope I dont provoke anyone because of this.

    I red the article and comments above, about Yoga and must tell that, even if I am not a long time user of this meditation technique, I have some thoughts about Yoga to share.

    I have practiced Yoga maybe two-three years, several years ago, and I were even given a Buddhist Mantra that I, I am sorry, dont remember any more. I have also practiced meditation several years through Wadokai Karate. But the intresting thing here, is my experience of meditation or Yoga in the Roman Catholic Church, were I belong.

    Reading Roger Carling Kelly, I find that yes, what I have been doing all the time in the Church has been meditation, a kind of Yoga. The difference as I can see, is apparently my sitting position in Church, that btw I think is not the best one. In Church I did meditate and listen a lot and I feel I got, as Roger says “a deeper and broader love for God”. I say I did, because I dont do it anymore since maybe 1½ years now. I explain the reason of this in my own blog if you want. I believe however, that it is by listening that you learn, and Yoga is for me, listening to the

    What I love about you is the open mindness of yours and how you react to interreligious intollerance. Not offending is very important today as we have been given the tools for a Global dialogue. Offenders are the loosers in this dialogue as they wont find new friends. Not only, offenders do great harm to humanity and therefore to the Creation of God. We must really take care of this dialogue, because through this dialogue are we able to share all the Light of God and with it grow up as human beings.

    Roger quoted: “Be still and know that I am God,”. If God hasn’t talked directly to you, you can not know about Gods existence. You can only believe there is a God, through the words of our Prophets/Gurus. So can we only *believe* who God is and how we best can talk with God. When someone says that Yoga is the devil, then this human, is talking like being a Prophet/Guru or God himself and forgets about the restrictions of his three-dimensional mind. Only God knows about its Creation.

    These are my humble thoughts about interreligious tollerance that I believe you share. I am thankful to God, whom I love, to have found this beautiful Community of yours.

  5. simran singh says:

    Dear Brothers & Sisters,

    My intention is not to offend anyone. We are confusing the issue here.

    The focus Kundalini yoga is not about “excercise stretches, relaxation, flexibility & strength” (is it?).

    From a biased perception: it is to become like an old school yogi – different path than of a house-holder like the 10 Gurus with social responsibilities.
    Old school Yogis excercised and controlled their breath to extend their lives, create a mental state of “shunya”, and gain occult powers (healing, psychic etc)..in order to be spiritual.

    Our Gurus encouraged simplicity in practice and prescribed : Sadh Sangat( that fosters Naam Japna), action oriented inner cleansing (Kirat Karni, Kirtan, meditation, Seva) and Niva Chalna- humbleness.
    I typed Kundalini in Sikhitothemax.com search engine and picked the following :

    ku(n)ddalanee surajhee sathasa(n)gath paramaana(n)dh guroo mukh machaa ||

    The Kundalini rises in the Sat Sangat, the True Congregation; through the Word of the Guru, they enjoy the Lord of Supreme Bliss.

    nioulee karam bhueia(n)gam bhaat(h)ee ||

    Inner cleansing techniques, channeling the energy to raise the Kundalini to the Tenth Gate,

    raechak ku(n)bhak poorak man haat(h)ee ||

    inhaling, exhaling and holding the breath by the force of the mind –

    paakha(n)dd dhharam preeth nehee har so gur sabadh mehaa ras paaeiaa ||14||

    by empty display of practices, Dharmic love for the Lord is not produced. Only through the Word of the Guru’s Shabad is the sublime, supreme essence obtained. ||14||


    Bhul Chuk maaf!

    P.S. I do not deny that Bhai Harbhajan Singh Yogi jee, a Yoga teacher from the 60s, did a super-human’s job by bringing so people in the family of Guru Granth’s as a Khalsa. We are very grate-ful for it.

  6. Simran Singh: Kundalini Yoga is what Yogi Bhajan taught…and is a yoga for the householder and very in line with the Sikh lifestyle. Other yogic practice might be different. I can’t speak for them. We don’t practice Kundalini Yoga to gain occult powers or control others. Anything in life can be abused……that doesn’t make it bad.

    This is the type of thing that I can’t expect to convince you intellectually. It’s one of those things that you will not understand until you actually experience for yourself and understand my perspective. The closest thing I can relate to this is being a parent. One can tell you all kinds of things… but you really have no idea or understanding of what it REALLY means being a parent until you become one.

  7. simran singh says:

    Veerjee: Gurumustuk Singh,
    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa! Waheguru ji Ki Fateh!
    Thank you for the response! I never implied that Kundalini Yoga practitioners aim is to gain occult powers…
    I did check out Kundalini yoga’s videos, visited Yoga West, and San Diego Ashgram…to try and experience it.
    My observation of Kundalini yoga as taught by Yogi jee, involves forcible & excessive inhaling/exhaling un-naturaly. No benefits noted as of yet.

  8. Jaspal Singh says:

    You don’t need “yoga” to live a “better” Sikh way of life.

    It helps your body, as does any physical activity, martial art..etc..etc.

    Remember, Nothing really scary about not doing yoga, you won’t be looked down on.

    Do whatever makes you firm in your faith and closer to Waheguru, Allah..etc.

    same quotes again, but with ang or page numbers aswell.

    “..Inner cleansing techniques, channeling the energy to raise the Kundalini to the Tenth Gate
    inhaling, exhaling and holding the breath by the force of the mind –
    by empty hypocritical practices, Dharmic love for the Lord is not produced. Only through the Word of the Guru’s Shabad is the sublime, supreme essence obtained.””. SGGS ang 1043

    “The Kundalini rises in the Sat Sangat, the True Congregation; through the Word of the Guru, they enjoy the Lord of Supreme Bliss..” SGGS ang 1402.

    Please read the full shabad to get a better understand. http://www.srigranth.org

    Forgive me for offending anyone, still working on my ego problem.

  9. Prabhu Singh says:

    Those quotes, taken out of context, make it appear that raising of the kundalini and opening of the tenth gate is a hypocritical practice, but it says on the same ang (1043):
    “Some practice chastity, charity and self-discipline, and speak of spiritual wisdom.
    But without the Lord’s Name, how can anyone find peace? Without the True Guru, doubt is not dispelled.”

    Does this mean we shouldn’t practice chastity, charity and self-discipline, and when we speak we shouldn’t speak of spiritual wisdom?
    Also it says on the same ang (1043):

    “Practicing hypocrisy, Yoga is not obtained; without the True Guru, the unseen Lord is not found.”

    I find this above quote to be the central idea of the shabad. It seems to me that as important as chastity, charity, and self-discipline are to our path, so is raising the kundalini and opening the tenth gate. Here are a few quotes from the Siri Guru Granth Sahib describing their importance:

    “Beyond the nine gates, the Tenth Gate is found, and liberation is obtained. The Unstruck Melody of the Shabad vibrates.” (written by Guru Amar Das)

    “Listen, O religious scholar: the One Lord alone is Wondrous; no one can describe Him.
    He fascinates the angels, the celestial singers and the heavenly musicians; he has strung the three worlds upon His Thread. ||1||
    The Unstruck Melody of the Sovereign Lord’s Harp vibrates;
    by His Glance of Grace, we are lovingly attuned to the Sound-current of the Naad. ||1||Pause||
    The Tenth Gate of my crown chakra is the distilling fire, and the channels of the Ida and Pingala are the funnels, to pour in and empty out the golden vat.
    Into that vat, there trickles a gentle stream of the most sublime and pure essence of all distilled essences. ||2||
    Something wonderful has happened-the breath has become the cup.
    In all the three worlds, such a Yogi is unique. What king can compare to him? ||3||
    This spiritual wisdom of God, the Supreme Soul, has illuminated my being. Says Kabeer, I am attuned to His Love.
    All the rest of the world is deluded by doubt, while my mind is intoxicated with the Sublime Essence of the Lord. ||4||3||” (written by Bhagat Kabeer Ji)

    Studying and practicing yoga can give knowledge and more importantly the experience of the kundalini flowing through the ida and pingala, rising in the sushmana, to open the tenth gate. All of which is discussed in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Amar Das writes that liberation is obtained opening the tenth gate. Where yoga and Sikh Dharma may diverge is what is appropriate for the practicioner of yoga. Sikh Dharma instructs the yogi to focus on the Shabad and Dharma (living righteously).
    Sukhmani Sahib says “Prabh kay simran, ridh sidh nau nidh” meaning that you WILL gain all the occult powers meditating on (remembering) God. Practicing yoga can also bring you ridhia(n) and sidhia(n). So what is the point? The point is that our Gurus gave us many examples of sacrifice and service without the use of ridhia(n) and sidhia(n). Can anyone doubt that Guru Nanak through Guru Gobind Singh were perfectly capable of all ridhia(n) and sidhia(n)? Or that they were not in a constant state of yoga (union with the infinite)?
    The Siri Guru Granth Sahib talks a lot about yoga and yogis and discusses both the positive aspects of yoga and the potential pitfalls of yoga. All I can say from experience is that understanding yoga requires practice of yoga. Those who condemn it without the practical experience of it, know nothing. Those who practice yoga with any intention beyond being closer to their Guru/WaheGuru is not following the Sikh Dharma.

  10. g says:

    Prabhu, I agree with you, you have provided a critical analysis with monumental depth of this topic. I am really tired of listening random quotes from people who just pick one line begin inferences.

    Just like you have done it. we have to take the entire shabad into consideration rather than one line.

    I hope people like you could write books on sikhism and it would be a great value to west and east parts of the globe.

  11. Jaspal Singh says:

    You don’t need “yoga” to live a “better” Sikh way of life.

    Prabhu you have said this in your own way.

    Love for God is needed.

    Don’t listen to me, don’t listen to Yogi Bhajan, we are fools, what do we know?

    Listen and follow Guru Ji.

    Again, forgive me as I have a ego problem, which I am trying my best to fix.

    and “G” I have page numbers so that YOU and anybody else can go and read the full shabad.

    There are a million ways to get where you want to go to, only Naam Simran shall get you there. the rest is just BS.

  12. g says:

    Jaspal singh ji,

    we are saying that one needs YOGA to live a better way of sikh, but yoga does makes our body and mind stronger to do meditation better. If someone chooses not to do it then its okay.

    It just like lifting weights and also having good healthy diet, and one of the element is missing then we will not be able to achieve good results.

    So, Yoga strengthens our core muscles to have better posture, and clears our minds so that we can be tuned into one frequency when we do meditation or read banis.

    I have relatives who had Amrit when they were in their teens and they kept that Amrit vows all their lives by doing banis every morning. Now, they are in their sixties and I known them because they are my Mamaji and Masi’s. However, in all these years they have complained about one thing that is that their mind keeps on wondering when ever they read banis and it been going on more than sixty years.

    Obiviously, they hated the idea of yoga excercises, but educating them they understand it and now working towards it. Just think what kind of results they could’ve had if they were physically ready also…

  13. Jaspal Singh says:

    and you are entitled to your opinion.

    Not everybody is like your relatives.

  14. g says:

    I agree with you that everyone is entitled to their opinions as you are; and I never said that everyone is like my relatives.

  15. Prabhu Singh says:

    I will never consider the Siri Singh Sahib a fool. His teachings have transformed my life and the lives of thousands. Without pracitcing yoga, you’ll never understand what it is and why it’s important to Sikhs.
    There is a large number of Sikhs who condemn yoga, but pracitce a type of pranayam (breath control) when chanting WaheGuru. It’s a dangerous pranayam, and a yogi would know that. I’m not going to discourage people from their practice, do whatever you want. But, for God’s sake if you don’t know anything about yoga, please don’t lecture myself or other practicioners about yoga! That would be like me lecturing people about their Punjabi grammar without even knowing Punjabi.
    A Sikh accepts all and only sees themselves as lower than anybody else.

  16. Jaspal Singh says:

    Prabhu Singh Ji, Sikhs don’t need Yoga to be better Sikhs.

    If you do, Good for you, excellent, all POWER to you. I am not lecturing you, I don’t really care what you do, thats your business. BUT Sikhs don’t need Yoga to be better Sikhs.

    If I am wrong, then Prabhu, correct me, set me straight, set all of us “Sikhs” who are “lost” straight. PLEASE do this. But do it with facts, proven references..etc. Not hearsay or just because Yogi Bhajan said it.

    I have read the english translation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 3 times and I know for a fact that Guru ji does not only talk about Yoga or promote it.

    So please, I welcome whatever you have to say. But stop posting stupid articles which to me are mumbo jumbo, promoting themselves as the “missing link”. Oh be a better Sikh, learn Yoga. Its like saying that Guru Ji got it wrong or missed something out!!!!!!!!!!

    As for Yogi Bhajans teachings, if you follow his teachings then all power to you.

    …and for Gods sake, stop mixing Yoga with Sikhi. Stop Think, Imagine if Yogi Bhajan wasn’t a Yoga Teacher. Would that make him a lesser Sikh? Would you still listen to him?

    Lastly, Guru Ji talks not only about Yoga, for example..Guru ji has a shabad dedicated to Muslims, on how they can be better muslims…etc..etc. for all faiths and how they can improve themselves.

    Damn I feel bad now. Prabhu Singh, help me.


    Forgive me if I have offended anybody,I have a big ego problem which I am trying to fix.

  17. Ok guys…let’s not get carried away. Please keep things cool. When emotions take hold and you find yourself getting defensive…then that is a sign to not react. Stop… meditate…wait… then when you are calm and can neutrally write something… talk from your heart.

  18. Gurpreet Singh says:

    Prabhu Singh,

    You wrote that the breathing technique used by some sikhs while reciting Waheguru is a dangerous technique. I was hoping you could expand on this, and explain a little on why it is dangerous. I have been recommended this technique many times and if you could help me understand both sides of it, it would be great!

  19. Gurpreet Singh says:

    ALso, i’d like to add my 2 cents about yoga.

    A lot of people are quite to criticize it and say it doesn’t belong in Sikhi. However, if they were to read our history, including Suraj Prakash) they would know that Guru Sahib also taught some people techniques that would be considered yoga. This is not to say that a Sikh MUST do yoga, as GUru Sahib doesn’t give this updesh in Guru Granth Sahib, but atleast we can see that yoga can be useful, it isn’t against Sikhi, and has obvious physical benefits. So yeah, in conclusion, if anyone is hating against yoga, STOP HATING, do your thing, let people do their thing.

  20. Jaspal Singh says:

    I apologise Gurumustuk, please forgive my stupidity and bigger than this universe ego, I also humbly ask for your forgiveness Prabhu, I did not mean to be aggressive in my last post or mean any type of offence.

    My request still stands. Please help me learn.

    Hope ya’ll have a nice week.


  21. Gurpreet Singh says:

    I mean this in no bad way. But I really find it funny that you say all that stuff then at the end you apologise and say you have an ego problem. If you really wanted to deal with that problem, you’d spend your time doing something more beneficial rather than arguing about something that you haven’t really tried or know about. I have met Prabhu Singh and I have been inspired by his love for sikhi and him doing yoga doesn’t make him any less of a sikh.I think before you jump down someones throat and say this is wrong and or this is right, take some time and try to check it out.Our Gurus were very practical and they wanted their sikhs to be the same.

    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki fateh!

  22. medhavini says:

    After reading the whole article I have some comments to make on this statement

    ” Just as an athlete can practice certain aspects of Yoga while continuing the sport of their choice, so a Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist or Sikh can practice Yoga and become a better Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist or Sikh.”

    I am a Buddhist and have no experience of how yoga relates to Sikhism. However I disagree with the statement that practising yoga can make one a better Buddhist. The eightfold path in Buddhism has, as two of the eight ‘paths’ “Samma Sathi” which means ‘aware mind’ and “Samma Samadhi” which means ‘right concentration’. Buddhists are supposed to practise these in everyday life -i.e. tackle each task with awareness of what one is doing and with the proper concentration, and this is a form of meditation as it does not let one’s mind wander.

    If the concentration aspect of yoga is what the author meant, well, concentration is supposed to be practiced everyday anyway by Buddhists no matter what they do. And if one is practising concentration it does not matter what form of excercise one does. One can concentrate while lifting weights too, and still become a better Buddhist because one was practising concetrating and awareness of what one was doing!

  23. Jaspal Singh says:

    Gurpreet Singh I am disagreeing with a statement made in that article which is misleading, in my opinion.

  24. Prabhu Singh says:

    I don’t take any offense Jaspal Singh Ji. I used strong words as I often do, and I’m used to people reacting strongly. My comment was less directed at you and more directed at people in general. I’ve never in my life met an experienced yogi who gave up on yoga. The only people who talk ill of yoga are people who don’t do it. It’s true that you don’t need it to be a Sikh, but it certainly compliments the Sikh way of life and should not be condemned by Sikhs. “Raj Jog Takht Dheean Guru Ram Das” Guru Ram Das holds the eternal throne of Raj yoga, and so we should understand the importance of yoga to the Guru and the Sikhs.
    Not all yogas are the same and without concentration or commitment to the Guru and the Dharma, powers gained in yoga can be used for personal gain rather than a stronger connection with the Guru. The Siri Guru Granth Sahib is clear on the POTENTIAL pitfalls of yoga and a Sikh practisioner of yoga should understand these.
    Gurpreet Singh Ji, I think I should probably correspond with you individually. So that I don’t create too much controversy :-) My point was that certain pranayams (not from the yogic tradition) can make you hyperventilate and give you a feeling of euphoria, while taking oxygen from the brain. This feeling of euphoria can be confused as a ‘spiritual high.’ It can be easy to confuse certain feelings of euphoria with a spiritual ‘high’ if you’ve never experienced anything else. Those experiences are usually sublte and profound. This technique that I’m referring to is not at all subtle and it is a temporary experience, whereas the experienced yogi knows that true yoga (w/pranayam etc.) changes their whole being. Simran stays with them continuously. Sorry if this post seems esoteric, if anybody feels offended by what I’ve written please just ignore it.
    All I can say is that if you are practicing any form of breath control, please verify that it comes from a legitimate source and that it comes from the yogic tradition which has been tried and tested for thousands of years.