Being a Muslim practicing yoga, it didn’t take long for me to notice many similarities between the two. Although yoga is not a religion, it still has many spiritual practices that are meant to calm you and help you reach a more elevated state of mind.
The Mala and the Prayer Beads
In Islam, we have the “sebha”: a string with ninety-nine beads that represent the ninety-nine names of Allah. Muslims use it as a way to praise God; it helps with concentration, and calmness.
The mala is very similar; also a string, but usually with 108 beads. It’s considered one of the forms of meditation. Yogis use it to repeat a mantra, or while chanting. It helps with keeping your mind from wandering, and keeps you in the present moment.
“I have found that meditating right after prayer helps me stay consistent with both”
Prayer Times and Meditation Times
Muslims have a call to prayer five times a day –sunrise, noon, midday, sunset and evening. There are four times of the day when it´s best to meditate, those are sunrise, midday, sunset and evening.
The two are very similar because those are the ideal times for this kind of concentration. The positioning of the sun helps balance the pituitary and pineal glands –giving you the best outcome. It’s best to meditate at the same time every day to help train your mind, and just like prayer, making it a part of your daily routine.
I have found that meditating right after prayer helps me stay consistent with both.
Fasting is a big part of Islam; from sunrise till sunset we have to stay away from food, drink and many of the other earthly pleasures.
Fasting in yoga is slightly different but is still quite popular. There are many types of fasting, some of them include a fruit fast or a juice fast, silent fasts and many more.
Fasting in general is meant to awaken some of your other senses –a time to give attention to your spiritual being. I like to think of it as starving the body to feed the soul.
“In Islam, it’s recommended that you do things with your right side”
Prayer Positions and Sun Salutation A
A standing position, forward fold, kneeling and seated: these are all fundamental positions in both prayer and sun salutation A. While they both have spiritual significance, there is also a physical one. They improve posture, help with blood circulation, and massage the internal organs, along with other benefits.
Doing the movements with awareness and precision makes all the difference in feeling their benefits.
Doing Things on the Right Side
In Islam, it’s recommended that you do things with your right side –entering a room, eating with your right hand or sleeping on your right side. Most people do it as “sunnah”, although there is probably more to it.
Yoga is quite similar –starting a sequence with your right side, rolling over to your right side in “savasana”, and it’s also recommended to sleep on your right.
Looking more closely at sleeping on you right: it’s best because it lessens the pressure on your heart, helping neutralize your blood pressure. Lying on your right activates the energy channels that help you relax, and gives a more cooling sensation.