The fundamental difference between yoga and Judaism is that Judaism is a religious belief system centered around God, encompassing practices, laws, commandments, philosophies, and explanations of creation.
Yoga, on the other hand, was originally intended to promote physical health, overcome distress in the mind, and realize deeper truths about consciousness. While some have adapted yoga into their religious beliefs, its core teachings are not meant to increase belief in a specific God. Yoga focuses on basic decency, character development, relaxation through breath connection, and enhancing one's understanding of consciousness.
Many systems, like yoga, offer guidelines for moral living that can complement and enhance a person's religious beliefs rather than sway them. It is essential to differentiate the Western world's perception of yoga as a simple system that can help individuals lead more comfortable lives. Incorporating yoga teachings with other philosophies, psychology, and scientific knowledge, such as anatomy and biology, can create a holistic system for personal development.
Ancient cultures had similar systems to yoga, extending beyond physical exercise into various aspects of life such as marital rights, child-rearing, burial rituals, and customs related to food, celebration, mourning, fasting, and compassion for all creatures. These techniques and systems should be separated from religious beliefs.
Buddhism, for instance, is a combination of psychology and philosophy, but later individuals turned it into a religion. However, one can choose to explore or disregard such elements based on personal interest. Yoga aligns well with Judaism, Christianity, and the Muslim faith, as it promotes non-violence, avoiding harm, and ending suffering—values shared by these religions.
As new philosophies and religions emerge, it is essential to approach them with caution and assess their original intentions. Many great philosophies, emphasizing peace and reverence for nature, belong to humanity as a whole and are not exclusive to any particular religion.
While religion can help calm the mind, it may not necessarily teach practical matters like exercise and proper nutrition in the modern world. Therefore, one can incorporate both religious beliefs and practical teachings like yoga for a comprehensive approach to a fulfilling life.