The definition of yoga itself is quite as simple as it is. It simply means to unite with the self. The yoga sutras start by calling oneself an expression in union. A way to self-imposed discipline to achieve that union is yoga. So, again, the question arises that if being determined to be in such a union with the self is against Islam?
It surely is not, For Prophet Mohammad s.a.w P.B.U.H has said, “He who knows his own Self knows his Lord.” Therefore, it is safe to say that anything done in the pursuit of knowing the Lord cannot be labelled as forbidden in Islam. For those who may question the goodness of yoga for Muslim, well now you know, that it is permissible in Islam.
Yoga is a practice of a number of “asnas”, or body positions, which are done for a certain duration while either reciting, ‘mantras’ or breathing in a rhythmic manner. Research has proved by many doctors from Harvard, of its benefits and has been recommended to patients even.
What’s interesting is that Muslims have been doing yoga for the past fourteen centuries having greater benefits than yoga itself. The Islamic for of prayer has been playing a role of yoga in a Muslim person’s life. The simple form of yoga, ”Namaz” provides physical, mental, and spiritual benefits five times a day as Muslims have certain positions set while reciting Surah’s from the Quran.
Obviously, all yoga positions can’t be cited in the Islamic prayer (Namaz). Regardless, doctors that have researched come to a conclusion where any form of yoga or version is beneficial to patients.
According to modern scientific research, the Islamic prayer has five positions that are done in coordination with reciting of Surah’s, have a corresponding relationship with the spiritual and mental well-being.
All the five positions have an equivalent yoga position, and the positions together then activate the seven “chakras” (energy fields) in the body. The idea may sound strange, but think of it as your own personal meditation building up.
Comparing the positions of Islamic Prayer and yoga, the Takbir and Al Qiyyam together are almost parallel to the Mountain Pose in yoga. This certain pose has been found to stimulate posture, balance, and self-awareness.
This also stabilizes blood pressure and breathing which is beneficial to asthma and heart patients. The position of Ruku is very similar to the Forward Bend Position in yoga. Ruku stretches the muscles of the lower back, thighs, legs and calves, and allows blood to be pumped down into the upper torso.
It tones the muscles of the stomach, abdomen, and kidneys. Forming a right angle allows the stomach muscles to develop, and prevents flabbiness in the mid-section. This position also promotes a greater flow of blood into the upper regions of body – particularly to the head, eyes, ears, nose, brain, and lungs – allowing mental toxins to be released.
Over time, this improves brain function and one’s personality, and is an excellent stance to maintain the proper position of the fetus in pregnant women. The position of Al Qaadah (or Julus) is similar to the Thunderbolt Pose in yoga, which firms the toes, knees, thighs, and legs. It is said to be good for those prone to excessive sleep, and those who like to keep long hours.
Furthermore, this position assists in speedy digestion, aids the detoxification of the liver, and stimulates peristaltic action in the large intestine.
Yoga is good for Muslims not only to meditate but to unite with oneself. It also helps to bring you closer to the Islamic doctrine of Tauheed (Oneness of God), as it contributes in having a connection with yourself and Allah.