The Kashrus status of Yoga, Eastern Meditations and 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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