Both Pilates and Yoga are interesting and healthy activities that have a positive effect on our bodies and minds. However, there are some controversies about it.
Every culture is different, and so is the general attitude towards certain activities. But many of those come from general misinformation.
Is Pilates haram is a common question, and I will try to answer it objectively. Pilates is not haram as it is just a form of physical movement, without any religious connotation. Yoga on the other hand can be both. Some aspects of yoga are related to religious rituals and may be considered haram.
Nevertheless, both of these activities can be practiced by anyone, in any culture and religion, when you include only the movement and exercise.
Although Pilates and yoga share some movements and exercises, they are completely different activities when you observe the spiritual meaning.
Here I will tell you more about it and give you some general guidelines on how to practice it.
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So, Is Pilates Haram or Halal?
It was created by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s. Today, it is practiced by many people around the world, either as a sole activity, or to complement other sports such as running, soccer, or even bodybuilding.
Although some movement is similar to Yoga, there is no religious or spiritual connection to any of it. It is simply a workout routine. And when talking about yoga and similar movement, I will give you a bit more details in the next chapter.
Of course, in some religious cultures, halal and haram of Pilates may be related to the way you do it. In more conservative places, the only appropriate way to practice is indoors, wearing appropriate clothes, and with instructors of the same sex. Other than that, there are no other concerns, and you can safely practice it without worrying that you are doing something haram.
Pilates has six principles, and those are concentration, control, center, flow, precision and breathing. None of those is related to any spiritual meaning. It simply means that you are concentrating on movement, control it, breathe properly, and fluidly and precisely move while exercising.
What About Yoga? Is it Haram or Halal?
When talking about is yoga haram, the answer is not so simple. Today, we have many forms of yoga and those are a lot different than original forms of yoga in every aspect. Those movements shared between yoga and Pilates are mostly due to modernization of yoga.
Originally, yoga was practiced by northern Indians more than 5000 years ago, and it is mentioned in Vedas. Of course, at that time, it was a spiritual activity. Traditional yoga focused on meditation and spiritual self-realisation. There were no asanas we can see on Instagram today. Spirituality of yoga had been lost in modern western world and it is practiced as a fitness activity.
Modern yoga focuses on asanas and physical movement.
Yogis 5000 years ago did not participate in hot yoga classes made for weight loss while wearing modern clothes after a day in the office. Modern yoga, especially those new forms that are developed for anyone, anywhere, especially when practiced in the physical way, is not haram. It is simply a movement, and movement is not haram.
However, spiritual aspects of yoga, and yoga in its traditional form can be considered haram. It does contain Hindu rituals that are not allowed in Islam. Of course, same rules may apply as in Pilates, where how and with who you do it is very important.
Some more conservative people will say that yoga is always haram as it originated from other religion but that is something that you as an individual must decide how to interpret. In Islam, it is forbidden to use and practice something that originates from another religion.
But, is modern yoga really religious? Is it possible to practice a simple movement without any religious experience? In my opinion, yes, it is.
The truth is, it is a complex question, and if you are unsure, maybe you should practice Pilates and you will definitely know it is not haram.
Under What Circumstances Can Pilates be Haram?
Pilates as a form of exercise is not haram. However, it is the way you do it that it can be considered as something that is not allowed.
First of all, Pilates should be practiced as it is, as an exercise that has beneficial effects on our bodies. However, it should not be mixed with any religious practices, such as certain aspects of Yoga.
Secondly, a person can do it while wearing appropriate clothes, not in public, with other participants being of the same religion, and even same sex.
Also, Pilates may not be taught by anyone who uses is at a religious ritual. This sentence, or a variation of it is frequently stated by anyone explaining about haram and halal of Pilates. But, what exactly does it mean?
As Pilates shares some movement with yoga, there is a concern that instructor may be practicing yoga too, with religious connotation. So, if you are worried about it, find a certified Pilates instructor who is teaching Pilates only, and has no connection to Yoga.
You shouldn’t be concerned about is Pilates haram, because Pilates is simply a form of a very healthy and beneficial exercise.
Yoga, on the other hand, can be considered haram or halal, depending on the circumstances and your personal views. Physical movement is not haram, however, if movement is used for spiritual purposes, then it is considered haram.
If in doubt, start practicing Pilates, and safely make your body strong, flexible, and healthy.