Not so long ago a friend and student was telling me about some health/stress problems his mother was experiencing and I suggested he bring her to a Yin class to help her find her breath and sit in still reflection. He replied "yeah, she needs it bad, but Rach, you mention one word about Ganesh or chant in Sanskrit and she will run out the door thinking hellfire and damnation will rain down on her."
I was taken aback, having forgotten what a religiously conservative place Cincinnati can be - or America for that matter.
Yoga is not a religion, but yes it is a spiritual path and we focus on the divinity that resides in us all. All of the religions I have come in contact with seem to have the same basic principle at their roots and it is this... Be the best YOU, you can be. To this end, yoga is a beautiful and natural compliment (a 'plus one') to any religious practice.
Personally, I am an equal-opportunity self-improver! I'll try/explore/read about any path and then I will fold the parts that resonate or reinforce into my own kaleidoscope of spirituality. I love me some gospel singing and the ritual of a true Catholic mass, I am thrilled to don my sari and attend Hindu pujas, I light a candle at every temple, church and altar I pass, I spin prayer wheels and let my hopes flutter into the wind off of brightly colored flags and I sit at my own altar each day, lighting incense and chanting mantra.
Today I am folding in the Shehecheyanu. I learned about this prayer when a beautiful family I practice with reached a milestone. Their religious faith is Judaism and they sent an email to friends on this momentous day thanking them for support and concluded by saying that they held a little ritual reciting the Shehecheyanu. I had to Google it:
Baruch atah adonai eloheinu melech ha'olam shecheyanu v'kiy'manu v'higyanu lazman hazeh: The Shehecheyanu is a Jewish blessing that thanks God for sustaining our lives so that we could experience a moment of joy. It reminds us that life is a gift from God and helps us to appreciate when something good happens.
Or perhaps you prefer:
A blessing that thanks -BLANK- for sustaining our lives so that we could experience a moment of joy. It reminds us that life is a gift from -BLANK- and helps us to appreciate when something good happens.
In yogi speak this would be altered to read:
Blessings to ALL beings for sustaining life so that we can experience THIS moment of joy. It reminds us that life is a gift and helps us to appreciate that something good happens in every present moment.
I love this sentiment. I'd like to learn how to pronounce the Hebrew properly since I believe so strongly that the vibration of prayer, mantra, drumming has healing power, and that pronunciation matters where vibration is concerned. So when you perform your next spiritual ritual or say a prayer or chant Aum... let it be done without barriers, let it be for us all, let it be a prayer of unity and know that I will do the same.
Lokah Samistah Sukhino Bhavantu - May all beings everywhere attain happiness and freedom.