It is quite alarming to see that many Sikhs and even many Rehitvaan Gursikhs subscribe to Yoga and practice it. They place faith and belief in the efficacy of Yoga to cure their diseases and maintain their health but often lack the same faith and devotion for Gurbani and Naam. Can't Naam and Gurbani maintain one's health and drive away diseases? If the answer is yes, then why subscribe to Raamdev's Yoga for health issues?
One person who practices Raamdev's breathing exercises, told me that the Yogic breathing exercises are very similar to Saas-Giraasi Naam Abhyaas. I was surprised to hear this. He further said that the only thing different is the word they use while inhaling and exhaling. I replied to him that the whole Shakti or power is of the Guru's divine Shabad and not in breathing in and out. The main thing is Naam. Even Buddhists practice some kind of breathing exercises when they meditate. Are we going to say that they can attain Vaheguru through this?
The following Shabad comes to mind:
ਙੰਙਾ ਖਟੁ ਸਾਸਤ੍ਰ ਹੋਇ ਙਿਆਤਾ ॥
ਪੂਰਕੁ ਕੁੰਭਕ ਰੇਚਕ ਕਰਮਾਤਾ ॥
ਙਿਆਨ ਧਿਆਨ ਤੀਰਥ ਇਸਨਾਨੀ ॥
ਸੋਮਪਾਕ ਅਪਰਸ ਉਦਿਆਨੀ ॥
ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਸੰਗਿ ਮਨਿ ਨਹੀ ਹੇਤਾ ॥
ਜੋ ਕਛੁ ਕੀਨੋ ਸੋਊ ਅਨੇਤਾ ॥
ਉਆ ਤੇ ਊਤਮੁ ਗਨਉ ਚੰਡਾਲਾ ॥
ਨਾਨਕ ਜਿਹ ਮਨਿ ਬਸਹਿ ਗੁਪਾਲਾ ॥੧੬॥
The second Pankiti above talks about the Pranayaam of Yogis that is getting so popular in Sikhs. Guru Sahib has outright rejected all Yogic practices and instead declared the supremacy of Gurmat of all other Matts. Pranayaam includes breathing in, holding the breath and breathing out. These three acts are called:
ਪੂਰਕੁ - Brjeathing in as per Pranayaam.
ਕੁੰਭਕ - Holding the Swaas insided as per Pranayaam.
ਰੇਚਕ - Breathing out as per Pranayaam.
Guru Sahib is saying that if one does greatest religious rituals and Karma but does not chant the true Naam, then all such actions are a waste of time. Below is the detailed Vichaar on the Pauri stated above:
1. Through the letter ਙੰਙਾ, Siri Guru jee gives us the lesson that if one has the knowledge of 6 Shastras namely Saankh, Niyaaye, Visheshik, Mimaasa, Yog and Vedant;
2. If one does Pranayaam actions of ਪੂਰਕੁ, ਕੁੰਭਕ and ਰੇਚਕ (breathing in, holding the breath in, and breathing out according to Pranayaam) and is otherwise practitioner of many religious Karma;
3. If one attains many kinds of knowledges, does many kinds of meditations and bathes at many holy places;
4. If one becomes such a dietary Bibeki who only eats from his own hands (ਸੋਮਪਾਕ), doesn't let anyone touch him nor touches anyone or any thing of Maya, and stays away from cities and inside the jungles;
5 and 6. But if such person does not develop Love with all-pervading Lord's Naam; then consider all his religious actions (described before) as useless or worthless.
7 and 8. Consider a Chandaal (a person of low caste employed in doing extremely low occupation) superior to such person provided this Chandaal has Gopal Vaheguru residing in his heart.
Guru Sahib has clearly rejected all other means but Naam. The rejection of Yogmat has been done through many Shabad in Raag Ramkali and in Sidh-Gosht, Siri Guru jee has totally rejected Yogic practices. I don't understand why Sikhs still can't help following Yoga. Why do they place more faith in curing powers of Raamdev's Yoga than in the curing power of Gurbani? All that can be said is that such people are extremely unfortunate and are like such a prince who goes begging at the houses of ordinary landlords when his father is a grand king.
Guru Sahib kirpa karan.
More on this subject:
You have raised some interesting points whereby you have stated that just like Allopathy and Homeopathy, Yoga too is a system that can promote health and just as there can be Sikh pratitioners of Homeopathy and Allopathy, there can be Sikh instructers for Yoga as well. I humbly submit that Allopathy and Homeopathy are not religious systems but are purely medically systems and the Indian equivalent of these medical systems is Ayurveda.
On the other hand Yoga system is one of the 6 religious Shasters of Hindus and the original Guru of this system is the great Rishi Patanjali. Later on Machhandarnaath and Gorakhnaath took this system to new heights and not to mention Dattatreya the original Yogi. The stretching excercises that this system suggest are all for a spiritual goal of awakening the Kundalini. Gurbani has written that there are 84 main Aasans of Yogis and Gurbani has rejected all of them:
ਸਿਧਾ ਕੇ ਆਸਣ ਜੇ ਸਿਖੈ ਇੰਦ੍ਰੀ ਵਸਿ ਕਰਿ ਕਮਾਇ ॥
ਮਨ ਕੀ ਮੈਲੁ ਨ ਉਤਰੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਮੈਲੁ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥2॥
( If you learn the postures of Sidhas (accomplished Yogis), and control your senses like this, still the dirt of your mind will not be removed and your dirt of ego will not go).
Explaining the state of a being who has gone through many religious systems without attaining the truth, Guru Sahib states:
ਜੋਗ ਸਿਧ ਆਸਣ ਚਉਰਾਸੀਹ ਏ ਭੀ ਕਰਿ ਕਰਿ ਰਹਿਆ ॥
ਵਡੀ ਆਰਜਾ ਫਿਰਿ ਫਿਰਿ ਜਨਮੈ ਹਰਿ ਸਿਉ ਸੰਗੁ ਨ ਗਹਿਆ ॥6॥
( I have also done the 84 Aasans (yogic postures) of the Sidhas and Yogis; I had long age, was born again and again and did not attain company of Vaheguru).
Many more Pankitis of Gurbani can be given to prove that Yoga and its philosophy has been rejected by Gurbani but the aforementioned two Parmaans are enough.
The stretching excercises as part of normal and regular excercise can be done but to practice the Yogic excercises like Pranayaam or Alom Vilom seems to be Mamnooh (prohibited) to Gurmukhs. It is really like a prince begging at the doors of ordinary landlords. If the time that is spent on Pranayaam or Alom Vilom, is spent on Siri Sukhmani Sahib or Naam Abhyaas with full devotion and love, it would bear much more results.
Since Yogic System is in competition with Gurmat and is a religious system like Gurmat, Gurmukhs should avoid using it under all circumstances. To do stretching excercises is fine but to do Puthay-Sidhay Yogic Aasans does not seem correct for a Gursikh to do.
Once a relative of a Gursikh started giving him lecture on various yogic postures. He was telling the Gurmukh the benefits of Shav-Aasan (lying like a corpse), Manjaar Aasan (stretching your back like a cat), Naag Aasan (lifting your head like a Cobra), and Dog Aasan which involved barking like a dog. The Gurmukh replied back, "After great difficulty I have received this human body and now you want me go act like a cat, dog and cobra to derive some benefits. I rather die than become a dog or a cat" (ਬੜੀ ਮੁਸ਼ਕਿਲ ਨਾਲ ਇਹ ਮਨੁਖਾ ਦੇਹੀ ਮਿਲੀ ਹੈ ਓਇ ਤੂੰ ਸਾਨੂੰ ਫੇਰ ਕੁੱਤੇ ਬਿੱਲੇ ਬਣਾਈ ਜਾਂਦਾ ਹੈਂ? ਕੁੱਤੇ ਬਿੱਲੇ ਬਣ ਕੇ ਅਸੀਂ ਕੋਈ ਫਾਇਦਾ ਨਹੀਂ ਲੈਣਾ। ਕੁੱਤੇ ਬਿੱਲੇ ਬਨਣ ਨਾਲੋਂ ਮਰਨਾ ਮਨਜ਼ੂਰ ਹੈ। ) It was quite funny, the way he said it in Punjabi.
Tomorrow, if someone tells us that by placing Chandan Tilak on the forehead, there is such and such health benefit, are we going to start sporting a Tilak? If someone tells us that (as Raamdev is already saying) by drinking urine of cow and by eating cowdung, we can get such and such health benefit, are we start going to consume cow urine and cow dung?
Guru Sahib has blessed his Gurmukhs with Bibek Budhi and using Bibek Budhi we should not adopt the rituals of other religions. It is not however wrong to excercise or do stretching exercises but practicing Yogic postures is not befitting a Gurmukh. Yoga cannot be compared with Homeopathy or Medical Science. Ayurveda is the Indian equivalent of Medical Science and it is fine for a Gurmukh to be doctor or an Ayurvedic Hakeem but not a Yogic Practitioner.
Guru Sahib knows better.