Yoga is not a religion it is a lifestyle

Author: Marisol Hawkins

Marisol Hawkins

As I left home on my journey to India to become a teacher in yoga, I had mixed emotions about what I was about to experience.

My family excluding my husband thought I was crazy for going to India to be brain washed into a religion. My mother in law said I should be aware that scripture teaches us not to idolize nor chant it is offensive to God.

I prayed before arriving for Jesus to show me the way and if it wasn’t the right thing to do to put obstacles in my way. From the time I applied for the teacher training course until the day I arrived at Yoga Vidya Gurukul, it was a smooth journey.

My first few days were really tough, I was hesitant on chanting. When we started to chant I would feel so guilty for chanting and felt like God was angry with me and that I was offending Christ. I actually would sit in a meditative position feeling like I was betraying my faith.

I had a breakdown and spoke to Gundar, one of the teachers at Yoga Vidya Gurukul, about my emotions and he suggested that if I don’t want to chant I can just sit and meditate to Jesus. He explained that this is not a religion, that I can take my beliefs and incorporate it into yoga.

I can visualize Jesus, God or whatever I believe in while I am at Haven. After speaking to Gundar I tried this technique the following evening, I felt so relived and I knew God was with me. Since then I try never to miss Haven, the energy is incredible, it is amazing how close I feel to God.

This lifestyle of yoga shows the pathway to self-realization. It is a practical approach to achieving the ultimate goal of life of permanent joy and peace.

It alleviates man’s suffering and it is a science of personality development.

There are various types of yoga practices which remind me of my beliefs and don’t interfere with them.

• Karma yoga: it works with awareness but without any attachment to fruits or outcome of it. Acceptance and no expectations are the core aspects. Acceptance allows us to get over past and no expectation frees the awareness from future, gives meaning and ‘direction to life’. It reminds me of Jesus, he gave his entire life with no expectations. He healed, fed, served and never expected anything in return.

• Bhakti yoga: devotion/unconditional love. It is the path of self-surrender. The experience of unity within and around every living and non-living being. Every living creature is treated as equal and having the same God or energy within. I have to remind myself that God created everything and I am not better than anyone or any living creation.

• Ashtanga yoga: it is the eight fold path of yoga, social ethics/discipline, non-violence, truth, non-stealing, non-theft, celibacy, non-hoarding or possessiveness, self-discipline, purity, self-study and surrendering to God.

This all falls in line with anyone’s faith or religion, it should be a daily practice in everyone’s lifestyle. It will help bring your life balance, control, joy, peace and the path of self-realization.

• Hatha yoga: It is purifying your body first so that your mind is steady and prepared for longer practices of postures. It balances prana in the nadis. It is a discipline consisting of practices such as cleansing, asanas, pranayama, mudras and bandhas to teach balance and harmony and self-realization. 

• Omkar chanting: it brings vibrations to your body that are essential for the vital energy flow. It is also helpful to prepare your body and mind for meditation. When chanting ‘OM’ at first I found that it didn’t feel right but then realized that I could use ‘OM’ as ‘AMEN’ in my head or even chant it out loud. The benefits are the same so it is not related to religion.

This journey was a definite eye opening experience. I realized how yoga is joining individual consciousness with universal consciousness. I learned that yoga is physical condition, mental control, emotional balance and intellectual development.

I realized that no matter what your spiritual beliefs, you can bring yoga into your daily practice because yoga is not a religion, it is a daily lifestyle.

The views expressed are solely those of the author. may or may not agree with all statements.

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Yoga Vidya Gurukul

Village Talwade, Trimbak, Nasik

Phone - +91-9822770727

E-mail - or

Yoga Vidya Gurukul

Address of Institute office in Nasik

Yoga Vidya Dham, Kaivalya Nagari,
College Road, Nashik - 422005.
Maharashtra, India.

Phone - +91-9822770727 (for courses in ENGLISH)

+91-253-2318090 (For courses, in HINDI or MARATHI)

(Please call during 9.00 AM to 5 PM Indian Time)

E-mail - or


Village Talwade, Trimbak, Nasik

Phone - +91-9822770727

E-mail - or

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