January 30, 2009

This is very strange

Four days after the fatwa went out, students continued to fill the classrooms of Jakarta's Jakartadoyoga Studio. On Jan. 28, the influential Indonesian Ulemas Council issued a religious edict forbidding all Indonesian Muslims to practice yoga that incorporates pre-Hindu religious rituals such as meditation and chanting. And while students at the yoga studio admitted they had heard about the proclamation, which allows yoga only for the purpose of exercise or sport, they say it won't deter them from attending classes in the popular Indian practice. "Issuing a fatwa is not the way to settle a controversy — if there really is one," says Sita Resmi, a yoga student and observant Muslim. "If something endangers the public, then I understand, but this doesn't, so it doesn't make much sense to me." (Read Indonesia's Fatwa Against Yoga in TIME magazine.)

A few years back, I attended a yoga retreat at Mandala Spa in Boracay. One of my classmates asked our instructor, Mo-ching Yip, if she could sit out the chanting class because she's a born-again Christian, and thus, recognized only one Supreme Being or God. Many of the chants used in yoga practice do mention several gods or goddesses. So what Mo-ching did was to teach us chants w/c were non-denominational, and spoke of one Earth, the divine light in us and in everyone, and peace.

Personally, I have never felt less Catholic when I was still chanting and meditating. I found chanting very comforting and uplifting. I think I'll take it up again.

OM Shanti.

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