When I first started taking classes in Yoga Philosophy, I felt like I was going to be dragged through mucky confusion. Instead, it opened my eyes and appreciate namaz (salat) in a way nobody else could teach me.
There are opposing views on whether yoga is healthy for Muslims to practice, just like there are conflicting views on everything else. If there is one lesson I could write in stone for my children it would be this "Not even solid science can convince someone who has already made up his/her mind one way."
But a yogini can try, can't she?
Patanjali, or the source book for yoga philosophy begins with the words "This is the beginning of instruction in yoga." One of the commentators defined the use of yoga as "an effort to separate the Reality from the Apparant."
To Muslims, this world is but a dream. Yet, we count so much on waking up every next day and running all our life as if life in this world is the end all. We as Muslims claim we believe in the life Hereafter and then worry about how much money we've accumulated in the savings deposit. What grades am I getting and O.M.G. I hope I get into Columbia! Students in Pakistan and India commit suicides over low matriculation grades. We tend to get depressed when our teams lose the cricket match. Why are we so stuck in the Apparant?
The reason we pray salat, and try so hard to not think about the world while we're praying, Is so we can separate Allah from our worldly thoughts. The second verse of Patanjali translates to "Yoga is the control of the thought waves in the mind."
I don't see the difference in saying Allah u Akbar and reciting Quran to silence the crash of unnecessary thoughts in our minds, to willfully, mindfully silencing the thoughts in meditation and concentrate on being mesmerized by the breath, the air, the body He blessed us with. SUBHAN ALLAH!
And Allah knows best.