CAN BAHÁ'ÍS DO YOGA?
THERE IS NOTHING SPECIFICALLY ABOUT YOGA IN THE BAHA’I WRITINGS
There is nothing specifically about yoga in the Bahá’í writings ….
(From a letter dated 1 September 1977 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)
The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 3 December 1994 and has instructed us to state that there is no objection to your continuing to be a tutor of yoga, which is understood to consist of mostly physical exercises. However, at the present stage of the development of the Faith, while it is still comparatively unknown, the Bahá’ís must take care not to confuse the public as to its true nature by associating it with activities and programmes which, even though they may be admirable in themselves, are not a part of Bahá’í Teachings. As you may be aware, there is no reference to yoga in the Bahá’í Writings nor are there any specific forms of meditation enjoined on Bahá’ís, as can be seen from the following extract from a letter written on behalf of the beloved Guardian, which bears on this point: There are no set forms of meditation prescribed in the teachings, no plan, as such,for inner development. The friends are urged—nay enjoined—to pray, and they also should meditate, but the manner of doing the latter is left entirely to the individual. You are therefore urged to be vigilant in this regard by ensuring that you neither introduce yoga to your students as being in any way associated with the Bahá’í Teachings, nor do anything which might give them the erroneous impression that the Faith is a mystical Indian movement.
(From a letter dated 21 February 1995 written on behalf of the Universal
House of Justice to an individual believer)
THE BAHA’I FAITH DOESN’T ADVOCATE FOR SPECIFIC MEDITATION PRACTICES
It is apparent that you are well aware of the importance of daily prayer and meditation, but we are asked to point out that the manner in which meditation is done need not follow practices such as those advocated by proponents of yoga or other forms of Hindu mysticism. For example, the reading of the “Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh” or other of His Writings, and subsequent meditation on the wisdom they contain, can be an effective way of meditating. Further, the daily study of the writings of our Faith and contemplation of the inspiration to be found therein should prove to be most gratifying and provide the tranquillity that one seeks through meditation.
(From a letter dated 16 September 1982 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)
THE FAITH HAS NO OBJECTION TO YOGA, BUT YOGA SHOULD NOT BE RELATED AS BAHAI PRACTICE. SPECIALLY AT ITS BEGGINING STAGES.
Regarding the case before you, the Faith has no objection to yoga, and the participation of
Bahá’ís in yoga classes is a matter for individual decision. However, you will want to bear in
mind that in many places yoga is associated with the practices of a religious community. The main question to be considered then is whether by allowing yoga lessons to be given on a regular basis at your National Centre an impression will be produced in the public mind that yoga is a part of the Bahá’í Faith.
(From a letter dated 23 August 2004 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly)
YOGA IS FINE, JUST DON’T GET INTO THE SUPERSTITIONS & OCCULT PRACTICES
“…indeed, such occult practices as certain Hindus have introduced in the States, and which some superficial and superstitious individuals have adopted and are trying, by all sorts of devices, to popularize, are absolutely foreign, nay positively opposed to the very spirit and letter of the Teachings, and the believers, therefore, should strictly and at all times avoid the company of such people, lest they may unconsciously and inevitably fall under their baneful influence and become gradually alienated from the Cause.
“…The friends also should be warned not to indulge in such activities that draw their inspiration from Hindu occultist sources, as these do not only lead them away from the Cause, but can cause them considerable mental harm, and thus permanently injure their mind as well as their body.”
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to two believers, August 5, 1939