Do I have to be a vegetarian to practice Yoga? Hell No.

December 15, 2010

Before I explain why you don’t have to be a vegetarian to practice Yoga, let’s lay a foundation of where this idea comes from. Patanjali was an ancient Hindu sage who compiled the science of Yoga in a systematic manner. So, Yoga has to do with Hinduism when considering its origin. When studying the many aspects of Yoga, because of this origin, regardless of who you are and what your origins are, the information will be getting to you throughout this lens of Vedic Hindu tradition. As a first step in this Vedic Hindu tradition of disciplining the body, and thence, the mind, the Asanas are one way through which we get initiated into Hinduism, like it or not. But if you actually pay attention to the philosophy of Yoga and comprehend the teachings, it stops there as far as the practitioner either becoming Hindu or even merely imitating Hinduism. Yoga, although born of Hinduism, goes far beyond its origins and cannot be described rightfully and respectfully if it stays in the limited context of Hinduism.

Yoga is not an all-or-nothing kind of commitment. You aren’t expected to retreat into a cave wearing monk garb, cutting yourself off from society once you begin Yoga practice. This is also why although vegetarianism is suggested in Yoga teachings, it is also taught that Yoga is not about restricting yourself from what life has to offer and therefore vegetarianism is not required. To think it is required is to misunderstand the yogic path.

So it isn’t good or bad to be a vegetarian, but rather what you feel is right for you. What is bad is only what kind of vegetarian or non-vegetarian you are. Whether or not you eat meat is less of an issue than the quality of what you are putting in your body. Definitely don’t confuse vegetarianism as something that is right or wrong for animals who give their lives for us to consume their carcasses. This is a life-limiting approach and Yoga is about making life as enriching as possible, not a list of commandments that tell you what not do or what is allowed. Let’s save that for Christianity.

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3 Responses to “Do I have to be a vegetarian to practice Yoga? Hell No.”

  1. I just read your post and I thought it was awesome! I’ll be checking out your site. Bookmarked -Erica

  2. kelsiu said

    Every thought, every action has a result; you are morally responsible for everything you do. Yes, we all have free will, but it’s important to think beyond how the things we choose to do affect us.. how do they affect others?

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