Yoga/Meditations/Therapies

Yoga/Meditations/Therapies:[1]
Rabbinical supervision: Yoga[2] and many eastern meditations, contain aspects of idolatry that are forbidden for a Jew, of which one is required to give up his life rather than perform. Nonetheless, the aspect of seclusion and meditation in it of itself does not contain idolatry and is not Halachically forbidden, and on the contrary can be found rooted in Torah. Likewise, much of the physical exercise of Yoga is not idolatry related. One who desires to perform any of the above types of therapies is to beware to do so in a Kosher manner, making sure that it is removed from any idolatry tainted practices. The same way a food requires Rabbinical supervision so it does not contain any non-Kosher ingredients, so too eastern meditations and Yoga style practices require Rabbinical approbation to verify that they have been ridden of their prohibited aspects of idolatry. The Rebbe encouraged Rabbanim to seek G-d fearing psychologists and mental health experts to study the field of meditation and make Kosher forms of meditations available for the public in need of these therapies. In addition, the Rebbe proposed that the meditations include a Jewish spiritual content, such as the concept of Shema Yisrael, G-d’s oneness.
Who should use this therapy? The Rebbe’s position even regarding Kosher meditations was that it is not meant for the healthy minded and should only be used as prescribed by a medical or mental health professional. The same way a healthy person does not take medicines for ailments he does not have, and if he does so it will damage his body, so too taking part in these therapies when not needed can prove detrimental to one’s mental health. Furthermore, even one who needs these therapies, it should be used like a medicine, only on occasion and according to need. Just as one can overdose on medicine, and become addicted, similarly one can become indoctrinated and infatuated with the therapy given to the point that what was once a healer of mental health becomes its destroyer. Kosher meditations must be regulated. Once one becomes stable and healthy, he is to leave this therapy all together and continue to lead a normal and healthy life without external dependencies.

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[1] See Sichos Kodesh 5739 3/314; Likkutei Sichos 36/335-336; Heichal Menachem 1/48, two letters of Rebbe to Rav Yaakov Landa, Chief Rabbi of Bnei Brak; Healthy in Body Mind and Spirit chapter 9

[2] Yoga is a group of physicalmental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India. There is a broad variety of Yoga schools, practices, and goals in HinduismBuddhism, and Jainism. Many of the positions and mantras in Yoga contain pure idolatry, summoning deities and spiritual forces and showing one’s subservience towards them.

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  1. Rabbi Yaakov Goldstein

    Shalom, Shalom R’ Goldstein
    What a relief. I am very thankful for your sensible opinion on this subject. So many rabbis are misusing the Rebbe’s words and saying that yoga is kosher and it is not.
    If I may add two points; even the name yoga should not be used. The word “yoga” has a definition and it has a ton of history that invariable comes with it. If an innocent Jew hears that there is yoga that the rabbis approve he is going to go online and find all of the yoga that is “genuine” yoga which comes along with the actual avodah zara. Let those who want such exercises take what they want without any association with yoga.
    As for meditation: the meditation that the Rebbe was told about from the Sixties was almost entirely from TM which is a mantra (repetition over and over again) system that has no real place in a healthy Jew’s life. But there can be constructive Jewish meditation that can help a Jew gain a spiritual sensitivity so he or she can advance in the ruchnius (spiritual awareness) of Torah.
    I have a few short videos on the subject that will show you what I am referring to.
    Direct Your Heart to Heaven – Jewish Meditation
    (Link)
    Hashem bless you with much success in having the Jewish world accept your sensible opinion on this very important subject.
    With warm regards
    Gutman Locks
    Jerusalem

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