I'm just curious, I practice yoga and plan to continue... But it can't be denied that there are a lot of superstitious beliefs, invocations of Hindu deities, etc. that go along with it in most organized settings. Would you just avoid it entirely? Would you participate, but refuse to "Om" for example? If the instructor or other students talk about things like "chakras" and "prana," would you argue with them, or just ignore it, or view it as a useful metaphor that isn't literally true? What is your rationale for whatever your position is on these questions? Thanks in advance for any and all thoughts!
See, I'd take it a step further than that and question if yoga is doing me any good at all, BUT I will assume you do it because you like it and that's good enough for me. :)
You could seek out a yoga class or group that eliminates the spiritual elements of yoga in order to focus on your health, strength, breathing, etc. If that's difficult, or impossible, my impulse would likely be to ignore it; there is a time and a place to get into debates like that and doing it on yoga's home turf isn't likely to produce a worthwhile conversation. However, I'm also a very shy person who is much more interested in quietly watching the weirdness unfold a lot of the time.
I don't see why it would be a problem. You don't have to believe in any philosophy to practice Yoga .. I just see it as exercise.
I like yoga and do it as often as possible. It does do me a lot of good. I've never thought of it being counter to atheism. The classes I've taken did not get deep into philosophy but I do view that aspect of yoga as metaphorical and move on. If asked to debate I will give it a go but I agree with Sarah and would not initiate a debate in a yoga class. Watching weirdness unfold is a great way to put it. I do not initiate spontaneous confrontational* debate just like I don't want religionists to do that with their thing.
*edited to clarify sleeve comment
I take yoga. There's no spiritual mumbo jumbo in our class. I guess it just depends on the instructor. Either way I'd just ignore it. I still spend money even though it has "In God We Trust" on it. We Atheists have to ignore a lot of nonsense.
I got peeved at some of the weird crap that went on in my yoga classes, but it was nothing compared to some more prevalent, more dangerous dogma out there. I'm okay with the chanting, something about it is actually good at clearing the mind and feels good in the throat. If an atheist is interested though, I would try to find a good yoga teacher because the practice can be very beneficial if you're not pissed off the whole time.
I do yoga off and on when I need to take my weightlifting routine down a notch for whatever reason.
Simply put, don't do what you're not comfortable with. I know there's a new movement to put the spirituality aspect back into Yoga -- I mean -- whatever. Good luck with that. It's not going to happen. Yoga is all kinds of secularized now. It's like Christians trying to reclaim Easter. It's cute. It really is. Bunnies and eggs have more to do with Easter now than Jesus. Likewise Yoga is now more about health than chakras.
If you get a pushy Yoga instructor then leave. In any case it's not like they can make you believe what they think.
I don't go for the spiritual BS, but that "Om" is great for recovering from an asthma attack when you don't have an inhaler handy.