excerpts from Yoga Journal
I think I should describe the circumstances under which I happened to be associated with yoga. When I was a little boy of 13, I happened to witness a yogi performing some of the yogasanas. A surprised crowd was watching him with rapt attention and admiration. I watched him, but I did not stop with that. I asked myself why can I not do what that yogi was doing. Curiosity and determination to perform yoga were uppermost in my mind.
In Arabic, namaz is known as ‘salaat’, which is derived from ‘silaa’ meaning ‘meeting’. Thus namaz is a means for meeting God; that is, during namaz man’s submission and God’s acceptance take place. Namaz consists of rakaats, each rakaat being a series of 7 postures. For example, before sunrise, 2 rakaats or 14 postures must be performed. Thus each Muslim is under obligation to perform 119 postures per day, that is 3750 postures per month and 42,840 postures per year.
At this juncture it dawned upon my mind, like an insight, that namaz postures are similar to yogic postures and therefore namaz, while being performed as a religious obligation, can simultaneously give the namazee all the benefits of yoga. I became convinced that the 7 postures of namaz are the simplified and condensed versions of yogic postures in their external and internal qualities.
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4 Comments Add yours
I feel the same way too. As I observed, all the positions in namaz have close relation to yoga postures> Hence, I stopped slacking at doing the namaz posture and concentrated on doing the postures correctly to attain maximum benefit.
My dear Islamic friends,
It is clear this article is written in good faith. However, it is erroneous in its basic assumptions: Yoga is not just ‘aasanaas’. Yoga is not just physical body conditioning, though that is a small part of Yoga. Please note that Yoga is a vast subject, connecting body and atma to God, and is very comprehensive theological thought process. It is not correct to oversimplify these deep philosophies with simple posture suggestions. Each system may have its own significance. It is not for me to comment on Namaaz, which is done very faithfully by Muslims.
thanks for your comments, Krishna. while yoga is more than just exercise, both yoga and namaz have a similar objective – they are physical routines that help a devotee get closer to God. yoga calms the mind so that we can quiet our mind and unite our soul with the Creator, while namaz is an act that makes a Muslim take time away from their regular routine to focus their mind on God.
I don’t think he’s oversimplifying yoga. He’s just comparing yoga poses to the poses which are performed during namaz. And this is actually very true, but one would need to study ancient teachings or listen to sufi saints, to be able to comprehend the depth of certain spiritual practices. In fact, to say that the namaz postures are ‘simple’ would be an understatement, for each movement has its own significance, which most of us aren’t aware of. And just like yoga poses are just a small part of “yoga”, that’s how namaz is just one part of the journey towards God. Islam/Sufism, has the exact same system. It is just expressed in a slightly different language or perhaps we just perceive it as different. He wasn’t trying to make yoga seem small – he was just pointing out our similarities, which is beautiful.
Thank you for sharing this wonderful article with us!