Muslim prayers is one of the main fundamental obligations incumbent on a Muslim. Salat is considered a priority in the Islamic faith and it has been mentioned many times in the holy Qur’an highlighting it’s benefits and importance.
Prayers are not just movements that a Muslim performs, the benefits of prayers are evident in the physical and spiritual aspect of the entire act.
Prayers are comprised of several movements and postures. It includes a certain number of rakaat, each rakaa consisting of a series of seven postures. For example, before sunrise, two rakaat or 14 postures must be performed. Thus, each Muslim is under obligation to perform 119 postures per day, that is 3750 postures per month and 42,840 postures per year.
According to a Hadith Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him), has reportedly said “إن فى الصلاة شفاء” which means “There is a cure in prayers.”
In Islam it’s important for the worshipper before starting the prayers to have clear intentions upon standing in-front of Allah (SWT), along with being personally clean in their bodies and clothes. In the Quraan Allah (SWT) mentions the love towards those who purify themselves. “Truly, Allah loves those who turn into him in repentance and He loves those who purify themselves.” (Al-Qur’an Surah Al- Baqarah 2:222)
For centuries Muslim prayers have been providing worshippers with many physical, mental and spiritual benefits that are derived from the different postures and movements performed during prayers time. Many Yoga poses are similar to what Muslims perform during Salat and hospital researchers have found that performing those simple movements by patients benefit their overall health.
Although many of the terms used by Yogis might sound very unfamiliar, but understanding some of the terms may reflect how the poses are viewed and described. In the research done by Raof Ahmad Bhat, titled “Unity of Health through Yoga and Islamic Prayer ‘Salah’” he explains how the yoga postures are even more related than we think to the Salat. Most of the postures performed during Muslim prayers have a similar Yoga pose. When all the poses are performed together they activate what yogis refer to as ‘chakras’ which can be simplified as the energy fields in the human body. Chakras can be easily understood as just a way of how our ‘feeling’ sense works and functions. Our bodies respond and become more aware when its touched throughout the different movements.
Here are five ways where some yoga poses are similar to postures done by Muslims during their daily prayers.
During prayer, a Muslim must devote himself and surrender completely to Allah. It’s a meeting between the Muslim and his Creator, thus he should think only about Allah. A Muslim is required to focus during prayers and leave out all life distractions and connect with Allah during that time.
Prayers allow the person to feel that Allah is in charge of everything, promoting inner peace. It encourages calmness and serenity by developing focus in the prayers.
Meditation or Dhyna, from a Yogic point of view, is described by Yoga International as “The mind is clear, relaxed, and inwardly focused. When you meditate, you are fully awake and alert, but your mind is not focused on the external world or on the events taking place around you.”
Meditation reduces stress which can improve sleep, moods and boosts the metabolism and immune system.
2- General Physical Benefits:
a- In prayers a Muslim starts by Takbir “Allah Akbar” while standing straight then with the hands placed in a manner to perform the start of Salat “Qiyam.” Certain Quranic verses are recited at the beginning of each Rakaa: “And guide us to the straight path.” The standing posture in prayers ensures a straightened back and enhances the person’s posture in general by allowing proper blood flow to the lower part of the body.
According to Bhat, during Qiyam; the position helps in directing “the awareness of self in the world and controls the health of the muscular system, skin, intestines, liver, gall bladder and eyes.” And when the person opens his hands for duaa’ the heart ‘chakra’ gets activated, and as said this is the main centre of any love, harmony and peace feelings. Which aids the heart, lungs, thymus, immune system and circulatory system health.
b- Because prayers require the movement of the body throughout the Salat performance, thus it encourages physical activity and helps in activating several body muscles.
c- The continuous movement of the body allows the muscles to stretch, increases flexibility and promotes a toned physique.
a- Namaste: The word itself means “Bow me you” or “I bow to you,” Yogis place the hands together at the heart chakra to increase the flow of divine love, bowing the head, closing the eyes and then bringing the hands down to the heart as a way to surrender to the divine in the heart. Namaste is considered a greeting from one person to another. The standing position of Namaste improves body posture and helps in strengthening the muscles that surrounds the spine.
b- Yoga helps in building muscles without the need to do intense high energy workout, thus improving metabolism and blood flow.
c- The range of motions that are incorporated in many yoga moves improve balance and flexibility. The muscle stretching allow the muscles to work more efficiently.
3- Benefits of Ruku’
Ruku’ is the forward bending position in Muslim’s prayers. It is a humbling act of bowing down to Allah, letting go of one’s pride and submitting to Allah.
“In a Hadith the Prophet (Peace be upon him) advised to perform Sajdah and bowing calmly and to get up only when the body has come to ease.”
Ardha Uttanasana is a half standing forward fold. This Yoga pose enhances the link between breath and movement which calms and soothes the mind.
Both Ruku’ and Ardha Uttansana help in strengthening the back and spine which improves the body posture. Full stretch of the muscles of the lower back thus helps in easing back pain. It also positions pressure on the abdomen which helps in easing constipation and peristaltic movements. It tones the muscles of the abdomen and stomach.
4- Benefits of Sujjod
The most important part in prayers is the Sujjod, where the forehead touches the ground. It is mentioned in a Hadith that this is the position where the Muslim is most near to Allah.
Abu Huraira (radiAllahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“The nearest a servant comes to his Lord is when he is prostrating himself, so make supplication (in this state)” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
This position allows smooth and increased blood flow to the brain.
The posture of Sujjod and Balasana, controls the belly from accumulating fats. The forehead on the ground, knees and feet are also on the ground which allows pressure on the abdominal muscles making them much stronger.
In Yoga this pose is called Balasana (Child pose).
This is a famous stretching pose that many implement in their daily routine. It helps in releasing the pain/tension in the lower back, shoulders and chest. According to the research paper done by Bhat, this pose is said to “activate the ‘crown chakra’ which is related to a person’s spiritual connection with the universe around them and their enthusiasm for spiritual pursuits. This nerve pathway is also correlated to the health of the brain and pineal gland. Its healthy function balances ones interior and exterior energies.”
5- Benefits of Julus
Julus: One of the main postures during Muslims’ prayers is the Julus. Where a Muslim recites the Tashahhud in the second and last Rakka of the prayer.
Muslims testify and bear to the Oneness of Allah and the apostleship of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH).
The health benefits of such posture which is sitting on both legs, thighs, knees and toes. It helps in curing joint pains and even helps in aiding digestion by forcing the stomach content downwards.
Varjasana is the term used by Yogis to describe that same pose. It is best to do that pose after eating due to it’s several benefits. This position helps in getting rid of constipation, fighting stomach disorder, and increase in the body’s blood circulation. The pose itself helps in calming the mind, which stimulates the body to relax. Moreover, it helps in toning the hip, calf muscles and thighs.
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