Yoga and the Muslim prayer (salat) share some obvious similarities both as physical and mental activities.
Even though Hatha yoga has thousands of postures, they can be classified into a few basic categories: standing postures, spinal stretches, inverted postures, seated postures, and spinal twists.
The Muslim prayer incorporates all of these categories into a compact, easy to practice sequence of postures that are repeated five times througout the day.
Here are 5 things salat and yoga have in common:
Many people seek inner peace and mindfulness through yoga meditation. They meditate alone or in a group where they follow an instructor who describes what to imagine, how to breathe and what to feel. The same thing applies to salat. It can be performed individually but it is highly recommended for Muslims to perform it in a congregation where people follow an Imam who leads the prayer and is followed by the congregants. During salat people are supposed to concentrate and ponder on the meaning of the verses being recited and to connect with the creator. When performed correctly and consistently salat gives the individual guidance and inner peace.
2- Qiyaam and Namaste
During Qiyam (in salat) and Namaste (in yoga), the standing position enhances the body’s posture and ensures a straightened back. The even distribution of weight on both feet eases the nervous system.
3- Rukua and Ardha Uttanasana
The Rukua is almost identical to the Ardha Uttanasana at the standing half forward bend position. It improves posture by strengthening the spine and the dorsal muscles. It also stretches the torso, the hamstrings and the calves. Practicing this 5 times a day, as required in Islam, improves digestion by stimulating the organs of the abdomen.
4- Sujud and Balasana
Sujud, which is very similar to Balasana from yoga, is the most important position in prayer. It puts the heart in a higher position than the head, which increases blood flow into the brain and lungs. This allows mental toxins to be cleansed and stimulates the brain’s frontal cortex. The sujud position also improves joints elasticity, reduces high blood pressure and alleviates stress, anxiety and fatigue.
5- Julus and Varjasana
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.
One aspect that makes the Muslim prayer (salat) so powerful is the fact that it has to be performed consistently 5 times evey day at specific times. A lot have been written on the benefits of salat for the well being of individuals both physically and mentally.