5 Ways Yoga Is a Basic Practice for Muslims

Salat, or prayer, should be performed very consciously and deliberately, both physically and spiritually. There is a lot of discussion on the spiritual significance of Salat. The physical significance, however, is often overlooked.

Once during Sujood (prostration), I couldn’t help but become distracted and wondered, ‘Wait, this is just like a Yoga pose…’ I was never committed to yoga, but I was familiar with its benefits and always said I’d do it more often. Without a doubt, my favorite position was Balasana, or the child’s pose. It’s almost identical to Sujood. I started drawing parallels between yoga and other positions of Salat. To my surprise, all of them were covered in beginner level yoga!

Here you’ll find Salat positions along with their most similar yoga positions and their health benefits:
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During Qiyam and Namaste, there is an even distribution to both feet. This will ease the nervous system and balance the body. The body is charged with positive energy. This position straightens the back and improves posture. In this position, a verse of the Quran is recited: ‘And guide us to the straight path.’ Some have interpreted this to mean the alignment of our Chakras. While reciting more verses from the Quran, the sound vibrations of the long vowels ā, ī, and ū stimulate the heart, thyroid, pineal gland, pituitary, adrenal glands, and lungs, purifying and uplifting them all.

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Ruk’u and Ardha Uttanasana fully stretch the muscles of the lower back, front torso, thighs, and calves. Blood is pumped into the upper torso. This position tones muscles of the stomach, abdomen, and kidneys.

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Julus and Vajrasana aid the detoxification of the liver and stimulate peristaltic action of the large intestine. This position assists digestion by forcing the contents of the stomach downward. It helps in curing varicose veins and joint pains, increases flexibility, and strengthens the pelvic muscles.
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Sujud is the most important position in prayer. This position stimulates the brain’s frontal cortex. It leaves the heart in a higher position than the brain, which increases flow of blood into upper regions of the body, especially the head and lungs. This allows mental toxins to be cleansed. This position allows stomach muscles to develop and prevents growth of flabbiness in the midsection. It maintains proper position of fetus in pregnant women, reduces high blood pressure, increases elasticity of joints and alleviates stress, anxiety, dizziness and fatigue.

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Many people perform Yoga with soothing instructions to help them meditate. In a soft voice, a man or woman would describe how to breathe, what to imagine, and what to feel. Recitation of the Quran serves similarly as guidance to the individual. However, it serves not only to guide you during Salat but also to guide your life. Many describe meditation as a source of enlightenment as it leaves them at peace and eases their daily activities. Salat serves this exact purpose. Guidance and peace are core values in Islam to the point that prayer is needed five times a day! It is so significant that a sect of Islam, Sufism, was created to make meditation their main focus.

These are just some benefits associated with Salat. Benefits of reciting Quran, along with other features of prayer, delve into aspects of psychology, sociology, neuroscience and much, much more.

As of now, it’s safe to say that Muslims have been doing Yoga for more than 1,400 years! So, the next time someone asks you if you do yoga say: ‘YES, YES, YES!’

Sources: KhawatirTV, Episode 10; The Book of Sufi Healing by Shaykh Hakim Moinuddin Chishti; Living Presence: A Sufi Way to Mindfulness & the Essential Self by Kabir Edmund Helminski

Written by Jasmine Ibrahim-Issa

Jasmine Ibrahim-Issa

Jasmine Ibrahim-Issa is an American architect from NYC with a hobby of watching Ted Talks, reading Scientific American and listening to religious programs.

  • Azeddine

    Soubhan Allah! By reading your article I just realized how complete our religion is. I mean, of course there’s a lot about spirituality and such amazing stuff. As you said, there’s a ‘physical’ aspect that we sometimes might neglect in our daily routines.
    I had this conversation with a friend of mine about yoga vs. salat a long time ago and here’s an article with an interesting comparison between the two. I’m glad you covered this topic 🙂
    Keep doing what you’re doing. May Allah grants you for that!

  • Azeddine

    Soubhan Allah! By reading your article I just realized how complete our religion is. I mean, of course there’s a lot about spirituality and such amazing stuff. As you said, there’s a ‘physical’ aspect that we sometimes might neglect in our daily routines.
    I had this conversation with a friend of mine about yoga vs. salat a long time ago and here’s an article with an interesting comparison between the two. I’m glad you covered this topic 🙂
    Keep doing what you’re doing. May Allah grants you for that!

  • Hamid Missoumi

    Has anyone researched ‘breath’ in prayer (islam)? and ‘movement’ … especially the similarities with ‘eastern’ philosophies (yoga, thai chi …)
    I am thinking of Chinese Muslims and their practice of these meditation techniques.

    • Laila

      Yes this is the most important thing …. Breathing make us stay in the present moment…

      • Hamid Missoumi

        I recall a teacher (Sufi, Muslim,American, imam) referring to the complete salat (standing, bending, prostrating, sitting) practiced by Chinese Sufis and concentrating on “yoga” “tai chi” techniques – breath being the guide and support for everything else.
        Now, I’ll look him up … And ask … And will share !

  • Oya Akdogan

    One of the biggest mistakes Westerners make (I am then quoting Mary Douglas, author of Purity and Danger) is to deduce religious habits (like prayer, diet, ..) into logical and scientific methods of staying healthy. As a muslim, I would never postulate that I have been doing yoga for years.. as a matter of fact, yoga is not just based on these movements that are described above. Yoga is much more than that. I even think it is very unrespectful towards the practice of yoga to see some resemblance and say: “hey actually i’ve been practicing yoga all along, this is simply Islam.” It’s even dangerous and kind of hegemonial.. Every beliefsystem is rich and outstandingly Intelligent on its own. This blogarticle is way too conclusive. With Light and Love,

  • Simone Barbariz

    SubhanAllah!!! Yoga is FORBIDDEN to Muslims!
    Yoga means “union” and search the union between humans and God. The movements are to praise other Gods than Allah and also to reunion somebody to God as it is possible!!!
    Please, remove this article. You are misleading Muslims to practice what is forbidden, because Yoga is the opposite of Tawhid.

  • Toufeeq Mohammed

    Really Interesting… Article 😀

  • Adeel Umer

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful facts. Most of us don’t understand our Salat and do not perform them properly. May Allah Guide all of us to perform our Salat regularly and in the Best way. Ameen

  • Adeel Umer

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful facts. Most of us don’t understand our Salat and do not perform them properly. May Allah Guide all of us to perform our Salat regularly and in the Best way. Ameen

    • YO YOUR SHOW

      You are wrong because namaz bieng copied from yoga

  • Amamul

    Thanks for sharing salah article

  • Abdulrahman Mohieldien

    Nice article. But, though similarities exist between Yoga and Salat, the origins of most styles of Yoga come from Hinduism, except for Kundalini Yoga which comes from Sikhism. Originally, a sequence like Sun salutations is intended to be a prayer for the Sun, which is worshipped in both religions. Moreover, chanting mantras is strictly related to religious practices,. That’s why, Muslims practicing Yoga should be careful to only engage in the physical form and breath awareness and align with the Islamic religious practices.

  • Abdulrahman Mohieldien

    Nice article. But, though similarities exist between Yoga and Salat, the origins of most styles of Yoga come from Hinduism, except for Kundalini Yoga which comes from Sikhism. Originally, a sequence like Sun salutations is intended to be a prayer for the Sun, which is worshipped in both religions. Moreover, chanting mantras is strictly related to religious practices,. That’s why, Muslims practicing Yoga should be careful to only engage in the physical form and breath awareness and align with the Islamic religious practices.

    • Bobio

      um, I’m pretty sure the sun isn’t worshipped in Islam

      • Abdulrahman Mohieldien

        That’s what I’m implying, that thought Yoga has its benefits one should only practice it as a sport not as a religious practice

  • Abdulrahman Mohieldien

    Nice article. But, though similarities exist between Yoga and Salat, the origins of most styles of Yoga come from Hinduism, except for Kundalini Yoga which comes from Sikhism. Originally, a sequence like Sun salutations is intended to be a prayer for the Sun, which is worshipped in both religions. Moreover, chanting mantras is strictly related to religious practices,. That’s why, Muslims practicing Yoga should be careful to only engage in the physical form and breath awareness and align with the Islamic religious practices.

  • Amr

    excuse me for saying this, but this is bullshit, as a muslim you do ‘Salat’ to avoid burning in hell forever, not as implied having a healthy body.

    • Melike Nursultan Üner

      Excuse me for saying this, but as muslims we do ‘Salat’ not to avoid burning in hell forever — that is not main aim–, but our Allah who we loved more than anything asks us for doing salat (it is called “ihklas”). And whatever I aim, it does not prevent me from having a healthy body. 😉

    • Kadima ali

      Yes, salah was comanded upon us to worship Allah, and we direct our focus directly to him. But their are health benefits in the performances by our actions in salah. Allah is the most wise and only wants us to do good for our benefit.

    • Mog Fidel

      this things only mean that yoga doing people perform it sometimes and we have to do whats right for our health and care of our body wash it 5 times a day so be thankful to ALLAH he has guided u a path go on it you shall be happy healthy wealthy and successful in your life no book no sun nothing can guide u same as ALLAH has gave u guidelines

    • Jannah

      Please before you go here and there spreading nonsone that makes a laughingstock of yourself, i would suggest to educate yourself a bit, just a bit. It would help you be smarter than you really sound.
      Salat is a connection between the person and thier creator. It is a way to bring peace, inner peace.
      And this is one of many verses in Quran that mentions the benefits of Salat
      إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَاةَ لَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
      Means those believers who do good deeds, pray, and give charity (zakat), their reward is with Allah. There is no fear on then and they dont feel sorrow.
      Salat is a way for a muslim to feel happiness, secuirty, and peace of mind.

      • Amr

        You guys cannot stop lying and twisting, right ? can you tell me what happens if you don’t pray ? just answer that question, And this is one of many verses in Quran that mentions the punishment for those who abandon Prayer
        { مَا سَلَكَكُمْ فِي سَقَرَ (42) قَالُوا لَمْ نَكُ مِنَ الْمُصَلِّينَ (43) } ( سورة المدثر )
        “What led you into Hell Fire? They will say: “We were not of those who prayed;”
        so drop the act of inner peace bullshit, you get “inner peace” because you think you’re gonna avoid burning in hell, which proves my point

  • keyboardwarrior

    You know what else Muslims have been doing for the past 1400 years? Fulfilling their obligations – like wearing the hijab, which you are not (at least in your picture). If you want to impress non-Muslims so much, try acting like a Muslim instead of just talking about it and drawing pretty pictures.

    • mariyam

      why so much hate?
      why do you have to be so mean?
      why the harsh judgement?

    • mariyam

      why so much hate?
      why do you have to be so mean?
      why the harsh judgement?

    • Sujin

      If you can prove me that the Quran explicitely says to wear the hijab AS YOU ENVISION IT (ie a scarf over your hair), then find the Quran verse that EXPLICITELY says it. Sick if these men interpreting the Quran and thinking they are so much better than everyone. Wearing hijab means covering yourself, not having some middle east headscarf. Sorry for destroying your dream.

      • T Plez

        To deny what the majority of scholars agree upon is a risky thing. We each stand alone on the day of judgement and assuming that you are qualified to interpret Qur’aan, I pray that your personal interpretation will benefit you.

        • chandra sekhar

          I believe end of the day all religion teaches the same, only approach is different…When yoga is similar to Namaj, same way something else would be practiced without knowing in Christianity or in other religion similar to yoga / Namaz. Dnt hate the practices by other’s, all will take you to god ( Alla, Shiva, Jesus…)

  • Actually Hindus are the Quranic Sabeans and therefore its all connected. Wont get into details but take Brahman as Abraham, Sarawati as Sarah and Gaytri as Hajra, and MaNu as Noah.

    Salat is‪#‎Meditation‬ to Connect with your ‪#‎HigherSelf‬, the‪#‎Qalb‬, the ‪#‎Khudi‬ in us. Salat is translated as “Contact-Method”. Its a method we employ to contact our Qalb hidden within our chests. Try breathing through your NOSE ONLY to feel the effects more while performing Salat.
    So what is that cleansing after it connects us to our higher self? That cleansing is of our negative thoughts such as Fear, Hate, jealousy, impatience, vanity, gluttony. It helps lose all negative emotions to give us a clear mind and heart to follow what the Qalb – the Higher Consciousness, says.

    So in both cases the idea is to connect with Qalb or Prana

    • Andre Alyeska

      First off, love this article. I was raised Christian but now identify more as an agnostic leaning towards Budhism. I’m kind of a geek about yoga and have practiced other forms of connecting to source; qi gong and several different healing modalities of the Americas. I’m constantly amazed at how much these types of practices have in common.

      Repetions of mantra and physical movements are a common thread. What happens physiologically is all the same, though the source we connect to through these practices is defined in vastly different ways.

      Ahmad, appreciate your comments. Qalb is a new term for me. Prana is not. Prana is life force or energy. Definitions I’m finding for Qalb would suggest a different Hindu term than Prana. If Qalb is Higher Consciousness (via a clear mind and heart), the quivalent state we arrive at via the practice of Yoga might be correct perception. The Hindi term Samadhi might be better. That’s when you reach a state through meditation where what you see or observe is not colored by emotions or past experiences. I call it pure awareness.

      • Qalb is more than just a state of mind. its our whole existence. Think of an atom that has two photons. They split. One part of Proton is left in Alam-e-Arwa i.e the spiritual realm of all existence, the garden of Eden where we exist in pure Consciousness outside the matrix of 3D.

        Using Abrahamic terminology, after Adam ate of the forbidden tree, he DESCENDED into Darkness, however was given the way to Ascend as a MERCY. The Ascension lies in the 2nd photon that is us on earth (alam-e-dunya). We have to connect ourselves with our true selves. When we do that we BREAK the Space Time Continuum and live 8 Seconds to 8 minutes in the future.

        The Quranic definition of being a Muslim is someone who understand that we live in Darkness and submits to the path of Light/Liberation/Ascension. But MOMIN is one that has achieved Liberation and has had two PHOTONS of an Atom connected. This half part that hides in our chest is called the Qalb. (English translators confuse it with the heart). That is the Super Consciousness that i speak of, one that already knows its life Purpose, and how to achieve it. One that is educated directly from the Book of Knowledges and or the Akashic records etc.

      • Qalb is more than just a state of mind. its our whole existence. Think of an atom that has two photons. They split. One part of Proton is left in Alam-e-Arwa i.e the spiritual realm of all existence, the garden of Eden where we exist in pure Consciousness outside the matrix of 3D.

        Using Abrahamic terminology, after Adam ate of the forbidden tree, he DESCENDED into Darkness, however was given the way to Ascend as a MERCY. The Ascension lies in the 2nd photon that is us on earth (alam-e-dunya). We have to connect ourselves with our true selves. When we do that we BREAK the Space Time Continuum and live 8 Seconds to 8 minutes in the future.

        The Quranic definition of being a Muslim is someone who understand that we live in Darkness and submits to the path of Light/Liberation/Ascension. But MOMIN is one that has achieved Liberation and has had two PHOTONS of an Atom connected. This half part that hides in our chest is called the Qalb. (English translators confuse it with the heart). That is the Super Consciousness that i speak of, one that already knows its life Purpose, and how to achieve it. One that is educated directly from the Book of Knowledges and or the Akashic records etc.

        • Andre Alyeska

          Thanks for the clarification. And indeed, I’m seeing heart in the definitions online for Qalb, while from your descriptions it’s more soul or true essence. Would it be correct to say that the Muslim belief system acknowledges a duality and that through practice/faith/surrender those two part or aspects of oneself is aligned?

          I’m not Hindu or Buddhist for that matter, but so much of the practice of Yoga is to align the mind and body as one again, and only then do we see clearly. Once we achieve that state, then we can connect to god (Ishvara) or source, etc. The Yoga Sutras outline the practices one does to achieve that state: pranayama (breathing) asana (postures) svadhyaya (the study of texts), etc.

          Most of the practices I have studied or belief systems acknowledge that we were once whole and have been separated into two parts. They all acknowledge in one way or another a true self or essence (in one branch of Qi Gong they refer to this as the ‘innate noble heart’) but we no longer identify with it. The aim they all seem to share is the desire to reconnect with source.

    • Alia Nassar

      hi ahmad, i just read your comment and mashAllah its deeply informative. I just would like to know more if you can send me links and/or books that i can read about your info you are talking about will be more than thankful.
      thanks,
      Alia

    • Alia Nassar

      hi ahmad, i just read your comment and mashAllah its deeply informative. I just would like to know more if you can send me links and/or books that i can read about your info you are talking about will be more than thankful.
      thanks,
      Alia

  • asdasd

    Uh no. This article is completely pathetic and attempts to connect the failing doctrine that is Islam with a peaceful, scientifically accurate and beloved religion such as Hinduism in an attempt to offload the negative associations that Islam has and the denigration that it constantly receives in the West. You can say that Islam is no different from Hinduism if you want, it still won’t make the West forget that Osama was a muslim. Islam is like a cancer to anyone who is non-muslim. You will all be eradicated soon.

  • asdasd

    “As of now, it’s safe to say that Muslims have been doing Yoga for more
    than 1,400 years! So, the next time someone asks you if you do yoga say:
    ‘YES, YES, YES!’”

    You stupid bitch. The peripheral similarities between bowing one’s head and sitting cross legged does not mean you’ve been doing Yoga. Stop appropriating Hindu culture and traditions in an attempt to claim what is not yours. Then again, you fuckers have been doing that for centuries. Even the Hindu numerals were appropriated by the Arabs who started calling them “Arabic Numerals” when history itself knows that Hindus were the ones who invented it, among many other inventions, such as Damascus steel, etc. And reciting the Quran is akin to meditation? LOL what a joke. You are a pathetic excuse for a human being, like most other Muslims. Your insecurity is dripping from every sentence. Just commit Jihad and die as a suicide bomber, like your fellow brethren. And why co-opt the practices of “infidels” and “kaffirs” when your prophet so eloquently ordered you to behead them wherever they exist? Fucking moron. Just die.

    • Uzma Ali

      Sigh@your parents for raising up such crappy soul

  • asdasd

    As of now, its safe to say that Muslims have been doing one thing for thousands of years — TERRORISM and RAPES and LOOTING and DESTRUCTION. Stupid dessert dwelling camel jockeys and sand niggers. You guys are the most self-loathing people I have ever encountered. Even in the US you guys jockey to be considered “White” AHAHAHAH stupid cunts. You will never be white. Keep committing Jihad and being the good terrorists you are so renowned to be. Stupid bitch.

    • Uzma Ali

      You are full of hatred. I feel bad for you. Dont know your age but i hope you get well soon. 🙂

  • AFwcxx

    Shame for those who sees the negative side of this article.
    Please, as person. Think outside the box.
    There are so many “unseen” knowledge in Islam.
    One that you must ponder to understand.
    Not everything that you understand at this moment is the absolute truth.
    Not everything that science claim is also, the absolute truth.
    No one in this world. Knows, the absolute truth.
    Don’t patronize people. Our knowledge is always limited.

  • tasnim Amod

    The Prophet (salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “Whoever imitates a people, is one of them.”
    [Abu Dawud]

  • tasnim

    The Prophet (salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “Whoever imitates a people, is one of them.”
    [Abu Dawud] Muslims need to be careful in blindly imitating a people.

  • tasnim

    The Prophet (salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “Whoever imitates a people, is one of them.”
    [Abu Dawud] Muslims need to be careful in blindly imitating a people.

  • Murad Mehdawi

    I agree with you Yoga is Not Haram …. Thank you for the Info.. From Now On .. you don’t need to pay and and go for Yoga Class, expect for those who want to go deep and do more physically acrobatic moves ( u must have expert beside you !!!!!!!!) . Well Basically Yoya and Salat are the Same, but with different culture/religion approach …. sooo I will Do Yoga 5 times a day … at home or Masjid. 🙂

  • T Plez

    Trying to imagine how julys could possibly cure varicose veins… I wish the author had listed a specific reference listed regarding this.

  • Amanda

    It’s only true to an extent though, as someone who does to yoga as well. There is a huge part of yoga that is pushing it, and salat has very restricted movements. You can’t dip your head to the floor in Ruku or pop into a handstand out of sujood. So maybe “basic” as in “the first month of yoga practice” but nothing further.

  • Shahed M

    A little correction… Nope, Muslims don’t doubt​ yoga, they perform salat that resembles yoga, not the vice versa as appears in this article.
    Secondly, the postures of julus/jalsa and sajda do not totally represent the actual position s…. In jalsa the spine has to be straight,,,, in sajda the nose must touch the ground together with the forehead, while keeping the eyes open has its own benefits.

    Another point on meditation and breathing… When one performs Salah correctly, upper muscles especially get relaxed, breathing becomes deep while the mind senses the proximity of Allah and this awareness makes the tension flow out, resulting in a serene state of mind…
    And much more,,,,,
    Most of us do mechanical prayer, void of soul and, of course, fruitless. This is the reason we don’t find the enormously beneficial effects of Salah….
    A comprehensive compilation on this very issue can be had, online copy, by sending request to star_8@msn.com