Yoga and Spirituality: Yoga in Hinduism



Yoga is a word used to describe physical and mental disciplines. The word yoga in Sanskrit has many meanings; It is derived from the word “Yuj”, which means “controlling”, “subjugating” or “joining”. It can be translated as “Convergence”, “coming together”, “unity”, “encounter” and “method”. Yoga, which means discipline, is used in two different meanings. According to the commonly used meaning in the West, yoga is a whole body of physical, mental, and psychological exercises for either physical purposes or to reach maximum mental maturity as well as physical. But in Hinduism there is more to it than that, yoga also has a spiritual side.

In Hinduism, exercises that train the person physically and mentally to realize his Brahman-Atman uniqueness and thus get rid of the vortex of birth and death form the spiritual side of the yoga system. This system basically aims to reach a pure consciousness that will not be adjusted in any way physically and mentally. The person who practices yoga or follows the philosophy of yoga is called yogi or yogini. In Hinduism as a common identity, common moral and spiritual ideals are ideals such as the spiritual cleansing of the mind and heart, the control of the soul with the exercises of the mind and the banquet (yoga), the principle of being content with less, not killing or injuring any living being.



Medieval Hinduism (AD X – XVII. Century) is the acceptance of bhakti-yoga emerging in South India as a third way of salvation alongside karma-yoga and jnana-yoga. bhakti yoga suggests that the individual can be saved thanks to his dedication to God with love and sincerity. The Sikh movement also emerged as a syncretic structure that tried to reconcile Islam and Hinduism during this period (XV-XVI century).

The Spiritual Aspects of Yoga in Hinduism


Yoga is the origin of India, and religion in this country is mostly 80% Hinduism. In this country, which is the homeland of Hinduism, yoga is one of the 6 spiritual schools according to some views, and, of course, Hinduism and yoga are intertwined because they were born in the same homeland. However, there is no requirement for the person to be Hindu for practicing yoga because Sanatana Dharma literally means “Universal Nature Law” and Sanatana Dharma does not seek any religion, race, and language difference and accepts everyone as brothers. In the Upanishads, which are Vedanta (that is, the End of the Vedas) that are the basis of Yoga, lies the Ultimate Liberation that Patanjali referred to as Kaivalya, which makes Yoga a system, and the ultimate aim of a person interested in yoga philosophy is to achieve this liberation.



However, there is no need to be a Hindu to practice yoga, this fact is also expressed in Srimad Bhagavatam, it is underlined that if you are Hindu and believe in “x” god, you should not change this god with another “y” god. What a real guru should also do is to show you the way of transporting you to Mokha from the point you are, or because a real guru is Hindu himself, he does not impose that his student must be Hindu as well. Each yoga school proposes different methods for liberation; there are a lot of ways, but the goal is the same.

In this case, it does not matter which religious path you are walking, and even it does not even need to have a belief or religion of god … Therefore, even those who are atheists can do yoga. The absence of any imposition is the strongest aspect of yoga, and it is one of the most important reasons behind its sustainability for more than 5000 years, the person can be Muslim and can be yoga, Hindu and can be yoga or atheist, and he can also practice yoga. It may not be the belief of duality (God and the servant who believes in it), this school is also called Advaita Vedanta, led by Sankaracharya, which is mentioned in the Upanishads as four major summaries including “Tat Tvam Asi” (You are Him), “Aham Brahma Asi” (I am Brahma) – (Brahma is the name of the creator, Brahman, or Absolute, according to some schools), Prajnanam Brahma (The ultimate truth is Brahma / consciousness), Ayam Atma Brahma (The enlarged state of the self is Brahma) is equivalent to the words.



It is possible to use many mantras in yoga meditation and other works (for example, before the beginning and end of the exercises), but a yoga enthusiast can think of these mantras as belonging to higher-level beings with bodies (that is, they are considered as Gods, one of these beings in their own Devata ‘ it has the freedom to consider it as its (personal god) or just to think of it as sessile forms of some energies. According to a yoga student, the Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva trilogy can only be perceived as a manifestation of energy, and these energy forms are present throughout the universe – and also in the person himself. For example, all cells in the body change completely every seven years, the dying cells can be considered as manifestations of the Shiva – destructive energies present in the person, the newly formed cells Brahma – the creative energies, and the continuing energies of the existing cells until the destruction. When you look this way, wherever you look in the physical universe, you can see Brahma-Shiva and Vishnu (you don’t even need to do any special work, just a little observation is enough).

Now, it is possible to say that after a person starts practicing yoga, he can decide to change his religion and become a Hindu because he finds it close to himself, there is religious freedom in the world, and nobody says anything to change your religion. However, I would like to share with you the fine line between a fanatic and a one-stop-hearted person, also mentioned by Nagendra: Fanatic is devoted to his own religious/philosophical view, just like a single-minded heart-bound person.



But there is still a huge difference between them, the fanatic only insists that his own opinion is correct, and insists that all other opinions are violently wrong, and imposes that everyone should walk on the path that he believes is correct, while the hearted person listens to all other opinions with pleasure, it frees everyone in their faith (or disbelief), but it is stable in their own faith. In fact, I believe that this fanaticism is at the heart of all religious conflicts in the world – if every opinion does not say that its own view is “the most correct” and accepts that its own view is one of the ways leading to reality just like other views there would not be a matter to discuss, what would you say?

The Spiritual Side of a Sport: Relationship Between Hinduism and Yoga as a Sport


Before I move on to the spiritual relationship between Hinduism and yoga, I want to give information about this religion. Hinduism is a common name given to many religious traditions rather than a particular belief system. Hinduism is a tradition that has the oldest and largest sacred literature in the world. The Vedas belonging to 1300-800 BC and the Brahmanas, Upanishads, various epics and law books compiled in later periods constitute the sacred literature of Hinduism. Characteristic features of Hinduism are the caste system, Karma doctrine, Samsara, and Avatara concepts.



From the point of view of Hinduism in terms of belief in God, atheists, theists, pantheists, monotheists, and polytheists gather many opposites. In this respect, there are also those who see Hinduism as a religion in contrast. However, since hundreds or even thousands of divine beings are believed, Hindus are known as polytheists. Besides all this multitude, the creator god Brahma, the guardian god Vishnu and the devastating god shiva triumph were featured in the pantheon of the gods.

There are also quite different applications in rituals such as the diversity of God’s thought. Among the Hindus, besides the mystics, who fully pulled the skirt from the world and adopted the absolute retreat as a way of life, there are also advocates of sociality. In addition, there are many different groups that set themselves free in this regard, as well as those who impose limits on a nutrition diet. However, Hindus generally worship sculptures and paintings in the form of their gods and offer them gifts. They organize sacrificial ceremonies, organize pilgrimages to sacred places under the administration of priests, and baptize in holy waters.



Yoga comes from the root of Sanskrit, Yuj, which means “connect”, “join”. It is a discipline that aims to direct the energy of man to a certain purpose. It is a way of will education. It also means exercise and training. Yoga is an exercise that combines both physical and mental and spiritual strength of man.

Yoga: A Spiritual Sport


The person who does yoga is called a yogi. It teaches us to gather all spiritual forces to one point with contemplation, ecstasy, and enthusiasm and intensify thought to certain points in order to reach high knowledge that will lead to peace and tranquility. It is used as a means to reach the highest states of emotions. Although the date when yoga was established as a system has not been determined, it has been proving its existence since ancient times as a statue of a god in Yoga position that emerged during excavations in the Indus region. According to the explanations made, this statue shows that the people, who lived in the Indus Valley in 2500 BC, practiced Yoga before the Aryans. Also, yoga and meditation are not available in Vedas. However, there is detailed information in Upanishads. This suggests that the source of Yoga and meditation knowledge may have been city civilizations before Arîs.

The books explaining this system have explained in detail how the thought can be gathered on a point, how the emotions can be withdrawn from the subjects that cause the senses, can be disabled, and how the thought that is subject to the effects of the outside world can be canceled and how it can be collected on Atman. It is stated that if yoga exercises are done regularly, it will save people from their natural tendencies, provide guidance information, eliminate difficulties. Yoga training passes certain ranks while studying. These include various movements such as counting the breathing called “Asana”, holding the breath, and suturing the eyes to a certain point, such as the nose tip and belly. It is believed that anyone who does Yoga exercises in these ways will reach high information. At this high level, it is claimed that feelings such as hunger and thirst will disappear, things with pointed ends will not sink into the body, the body will be invisible and circulate in ether. At the end of all these stages, the soul is completely separated from matter. As a result, the spiritual forces that gather new karma under consciousness disappear.



After giving information about the religious position of yoga, I would like to emphasize the health benefits of these movements. The meaning of Yoga is “unity”. It means the integration of physical, mental, and spiritual energies to improve health and well-being. It was first written systematically in the second century BC in Patanjali Yoga Sutras. Yoga generally teaches mind/body integrity. If there is no harmony between these two, it will not be possible to talk about a healthy situation. Problems in the mind affect the body, and problems in the body affect the mind. Yoga exercises will ensure the integrity of these two and eliminate the factors causing diseases. The worldview of this religion lies behind the relationship between Hinduism and sports. To purify the soul, it must be detached from its physical bonds. The most basic way of doing this is yoga. This sportive form of worship makes the individual more dominant over his body. Physical activities and physical postures that are difficult to do are done by appropriate working methods. These studies are the studies that man does despite himself. Thus, there is a direction to strengthen the will.

While dealing with the relationship between Hinduism and sports, we discussed the concept of Yoga. Because Yoga has emerged as a form of sports turned into a religious ritual. However, today there are many problems brought about by modernism and technological advances for people. People are exposed to many diseases as a result of the increase in ready-made consumption and decrease in physical studies. As a result of increased stress due to these problems and independent of these problems, psychological disorders have become very common in societies. In addition, many individuals stay away from the religious life of the community they live in for different reasons. In this environment, people are offered yoga techniques as a peaceful remedy. While making this presentation, the religious identity of yoga is either partially or totally concealed and launched as cultural movements. If the pictures used in the articles promoting yoga are taken into consideration, almost all of them are taken in natural environments where people are far away today. In peace and tranquility, yoga is practiced either among the greenery by the sea or a lake.

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Savaş Ateş

I like meditation and yoga. I read a lot of books about them. I applied them in my daily life. I want to write about my experiences.

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