Monday, November 24, 2008

Malaysian yoga society disheartened by fatwa

PETALING JAYA: Members of the Malaysian yoga society are disheartened by the fatwa by the National Fatwa Council declaring yoga as haram as the practice of yoga in Malaysia unlike that in India is catered to the local religious sensitivities and cultural traditions.

Nevertheless it will cooperate by discouraging Muslims from partaking in this healing exercise via physical movements.

T.Manisekaran, who is president of both the Malaysian Yoga Society (MYS) and Malaysian Association of Yoga Instructors said the research focused on before the fatwa was announced seems to have been focused more on the practice of yoga promoted by institutions in India which incorporate religion and spirituality into their practice.

"Malaysian yoga is different as it incorporates the local situation," said Manisekaran.

He said most of the instructors being born and bred as Malaysian are familiar and understand the sensitivities of the different cultural and religious groups and give yoga instructions based on this.

"We had actually sent letters to the relevant authorities - offering our opinion and expertise but there was no response," said Manisekaran adding MYS' aim was to disseminate the correct information on yoga practices in Malaysia.

"In Malaysia yoga is more of a treatment modality than a religious practice," he said adding that many doctors actually prescribe yoga for their patients.

"Yoga is used to treat an array of ailments including cancer, asthma, high blood pressure, stress and psychological conditions," said Manisekaran.

"Thus we have been encouraging more people to take up yoga as a firm of exercise," he added.

Manisekaran said this was also why the society had expected the national fatwa council to come up with a decision in favour of yoga.

"We have been telling people that there was no worry as in Malaysia everything is done through dialogue and mature discussion, but it turned out otherwise," he said.

"To us it is not much of a loss as to begin with we do not have many Muslim practitioners and students as there is already an existing fear of yoga among that community."

However it is sad that they will be losing out on enjoying the health benefit of this form of exercise and healing, said Manisekaran.

"Nevertheless MYS will comply with all the requirements of the authorities as stipulated by law, he said.

Adapted from

Wikipedia says that the Muslim practitioners of Yoga in Malaysia claims that this decision is blasphemious... I personally wonder how can practice of Yoga, which focus mostly on techcnique of breathing, poses and peace of mind be called betrayal to the religion? So, what is next? Pilates? Or Qi Gong?

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