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July 31, 2015 / 15 Av, 5775
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Is Yoga Kosher?

Islamic yoga objections are more worrisome as the proponents of yoga in Muslim lands try to "avoid a fatwa."
Avraham and Rachel Kolberg at their yoga institute in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

Avraham and Rachel Kolberg at their yoga institute in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
Photo Credit: beitshemeshyoga.com

She says she makes small adjustments to yoga where she feels there is a conflict with Judaism. She never attends or holds a class on the holy day, Saturday, and she prefers classes without the chanting of mantras.

Eugene recently ran a Day of Jewish Yoga, which explored ways of combining yoga with Judaism. One of the sessions combined yoga with practices to help participants reach kavanah, the meditative mind-set seen as an essential for Jewish prayer and rituals.

On her website, a testimonial from Rabbi David Rosen, the former chief rabbi of Ireland, says yoga offers “much blessing and enlightenment” and arguably helps “recapture Jewish wisdom and practice which may have been lost”.

Bottom line: Is yoga kosher?

I practiced yoga for several years under the guidance of Bonnie West, a wonderful American teacher in Minneapolis. I increases my flexibility and balance through the poses and learned to settle my consciousness through its meditations. I derived great benefits from practicins yoga. And I never once felt any conflict between my yoga and my Judaism.

Yes, yoga is kosher for me. Your experiences may vary depending on who you are and where you are coming from, as the BBC article deftly suggests.

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About the Author: Tzvee Zahavy is a triathlon swimmer, a competitive golfer, a prolific author of books on Judaism, a prize-winning professor with a PhD from Brown University, a compassionate rabbi with semicha from Yeshiva University, and a fun guy.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

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15 Responses to “Is Yoga Kosher?”

  1. Well to my knowledge yoga is a sport practice not religious ….

  2. Anthony Kent says:

    As a yoga fan, I turn the question round: in what is what way is it not kosher? A few ohms does not feel avodah zora-ish. The improvement in kavanah comes through a less cluttered mind. Go for it.

  3. Alain Attal says:

    I would say that Yoga can be kosher for Jewish or okay for catholic protestants but not for christian people and absolutely no Hallal at all… According what I read its seems like Budha was a jewish Orphelin that made up his phylosophy on the old testament … If its right then jewish and protestant can practice it …. Chrestians in europe reject the Old testament and Muslim came abbout 500 yrs after Jesus and their believe diesn’t really match with the Buddism philosophie. Its my opinion but its maybe not 100% , I am quite sur it would be not a big deal to respond to this question with some simple research..

  4. Rosi Gordon says:

    There you go again…strange fire to Hashem.

  5. Rosi Gordon says:

    There you go again…strange fire to Hashem.

  6. Lara Harris says:

    most yoga classes are about stretching and breathing, caring for our muscles in a calm rejuvenating manner.. some classes make it a religious experience but most that I’ve observed are not (Just my opinion)

  7. Anonymous says:

    Yoga is the Sanskrit word for "union." The goal of yoga is union with their Higher Power within by stilling the mind in meditation, which is why the yoga practices were invented thousands of years ago. It came out of Hinduism. While the relaxation and stretching techniques and vegetarian diet are physically beneficial, true yoga includes worship of the guru, chanting the names of Hindu (and other) deities, and the belief that all religious paths are equivalent, as well as other avodah zorah practices. At the same time, there are many Jewish concepts that are equivalent in yoga, such as reincarnation, nullification of the ego, and the true meaning of suffering as soul-rectification. Probably because Avraham Aveinu sent his sons to the east. There is also such a thing as Jewish meditation, which does not involve anything related to Hinduism. An excellent book is by R' Aryeh Kaplan, ob"m.

  8. Josh Barrack says:

    If it’s taught as an exercise, then sure Yoga is fine. I do yoga at my gym and there’s no spiritual component. I’ve been doing Asian martial arts my whole life, and they’re fine too, with the same caveat.

  9. Kung fu could also fall into this, yet we all know this is a different form of excerise, not practicing a religion

  10. May be jewish people can pratice yoga but replace mantras with hebrew passukim ? what do you guys think about using passukim with yoga stances ?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Instead of saying "shanthi om," say "shalommmmm!" Much more powerful.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Instead of saying "shanthi om," say "shalommmmm!" Much more powerful.

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