Monday, July 30, 2012

yoga, salat and unity

A few months ago, I started practicing yoga regularly and it has been transformative in many ways. Through yoga, I am learning to see myself as a soul, not a body. When I practice, I don't practice with my arms and legs but I practice from the part of myself that is unchanging, that is the the essence of who I am. My true nature is one of happiness, bliss and peace and that is where I try to practice from.

When we are in class, we are sometimes told to move as one. This is one of my favorite aspects of yoga. When we chant together, when we breathe together and when we take our postures together, I feel unified and part of something greater than myself.

Now that Ramadan is here, I have less opportunities to go to yoga but more opportunities to pray in jamat or congregational prayer. Like with yoga, I greatly value the connection and unification I feel when praying with others. In Islam, praying in congregation is highly revered. A prayer in congregation "is superior to prayer alone by twenty-seven degrees."(Bukhari) I notice that when I pray with someone, if I have had some tension with or anger at them, it quickly melts away.

I am starting to see the great parallels between my yoga practice and salat. The movements, the intentions, the place that we pray and practice from and so many other things are so closely aligned. I feel so lucky to have two such unique and beautiful ways to feel connected to my fellow human beings and God.

Check out these beautiful pictures of people praying in congregation. The full set of pictures at is breathtaking.

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