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Yoga, isn’t a religion?

“Yoga is relevant to our age  because, far from being mystical or otherworldly, it is a teaching firmly  grounded in physiological reality and can be understood in contemporary terms.  We know that our experience of the world depends entirely on the state of our  nervous system. This in turn is influenced by a host of factors (heredity,  diet, environment), and so on. If the nervous system is fresh and rested, the  body will be healthy and the mind alert and comprehensive. As result, our  thought will be powerful and clear and our actions which are manifested thought  will be successful and rewarding.

Conversely, if the system is  tired, or strained, perhaps because the over activity, or the influence of poor  food, then our outlook will be restricted, the mind dull, and our actions  ineffectual. Our life will become shallow and unsatisfying, a prey to all forms  of negativity.

The techniques of Yoga are  methods of purifying the nervous system so it can reflect a greater degree of  consciousness and our life can become an increasingly positive force in the  world. If these techniques are correctly practiced, the whole nervous system is  revitalized, the body enjoys better health and more energy, the rested mind  freed from the burden of past experiences, and perception is restored to its  primal freshness. Thought and activity become coherent and integrated, life becomes  richer and more fulfilling.

Whether we choose to practice  Yoga, and interpret its benefits, within the framework of a conventional set of  religious beliefs is up to us. Some people do, some don’t. Yoga itself is  neutral. It is a catalyst that allows us to grow in whichever direction is  natural and life-supporting. Its methods work on the physical seat of  consciousness, the nervous system, and, as far as Yoga is concerned, a Hindu  nervous system is no different a Catholic or Agnostic one. Each obeys the same  laws that govern the operations of mind and body. Whoever practices Yoga will  be enlivened in his or her own way”.

Alistair Shearer, from his  book “The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali”.