The first time I attended a yoga session, I was blown away by the resemblance and the similarities between yoga poses and praying movements in Islam. The main idea of mixing between physical and spiritual practice is common in both. The spiritual part of Salah has been overly discussed in Islam, but I honestly have never paid attention to the physical side of Salah, why those movements in particular?
The instructor keeps telling us to breathe in and out, and never move on to another pose until our heartbeat is stable and you feel at ease. I automatically linked to a Hadith I had heard, when the Prophet peace be upon him told a Sahabi: “Go back to pray for you have not prayed!”. It kept happening for three times until he had to ask the Prophet to teach him. The prophet (PBUH) told him to say Takbir and recite a Sura from the Quraan, then make Ruku’ and stay until he feels at ease, then to stand up tall, make Sujood and stay until he feels at ease, and repeat that for all his prayer.
I remember at the beginning of the class, the instructor exhibited a pose that we can do every time we feel we can’t go on with the practice, until were relaxed enough and feel better to proceed. The pose is called Child Pose, it is so relaxing and comfortable and typically identical to the Sujood.
One of the most important parts in Salah is Qiyam, which is standing tall and straight and reciting a Sura from the Quraan. This ritual is similar to standing up in yoga and saying Namaste. The even distribution of the body weight on both feet relieves the nervous system and refills the whole body with positive energy.
Other yoga poses are identical to Salah movements like Ruk’u, where you do a pose similar to that of a bow, and it is called Ardha Uttanasana. This pose is done by lowering your shoulders, and stretching the lower back horizontally straight. It warms up the body, helps to tone the muscles and works on your core.
Sitting between Ruk’u “Julus” is similar to the Vajrasana or Thunderbolt pose in yoga. It modifies blood flow and increases the efficiency of the digestive system. For the first few times, it might hurt the legs, but if you’re a practicing Muslim, you’re used to it.
Yoga practices and meditation aim at achieving peace and clarity of the mind and relaxing your body, and the same applies for Salah. I am forever grateful for that yoga class that opened my eyes, and made me realize other benefits of Salah.