Buddhist Temple Yoga

Patrick McCartney
6 min readFeb 23, 2018

寺ヨガ — tera 寺 yoga ヨガ

In Japan, there is an interesting blend of modern postural yoga with Buddhist meditation. Apparently, the online presence of Tera 寺 Yoga ヨガ or ‘Temple Yoga’ has only occurred in the past 5 years, or so. In Kyoto, one can find yoga classes offered in several temples. Many are not advertised online. It is a matter of visiting the temple to find a local resident, who offers yoga classes at the temple. Some people might use their relative’s temple as the classroom, simply because they might be able to pay a reduced amount for renting the space. I’ve been to only one Tera 寺 Yoga ヨガ class so far, which turned out to be a Sivananda style hatha/kriya yoga class. It was patronised by 100% women in their 40s — 60s. My wife and I were walking around the grounds of the local temple, and noticed a sign, in English, that said ‘YOGA’. We asked the monk at the office, who informed us that the temple offered three yoga classes a week. They occur on Monday, Wednesday and Friday around 10–11am.

Tera 寺 Yoga ヨガ can be found in Kyoto. This is the website to one of them. I haven’t had the chance to get there, yet.

Anfukuji Temple Yoga

The left sentence in the picture reads: ゆつたり yuttari ヨガ yoga = relaxed yoga. Here is a free booklet if you want to know more about this style of ヨガ. The cover is below. You can actually purchase the booklet via Amazon.

As far as I am aware, this temple is part of the Jodoshu sect — which is part of the Nenbutsushu form of Japanese buddhism — which is much more relaxed, in terms of rituals/discipline, than the Zenshu sect (which is what the golden and silver pavilions belong to).

Jodoshu is the more popular and vernacular form of Buddhism that was the domain of peasants in premodern Japanese society. Basically, one just has to chant (nen) the name of buddha (butsu). And, importantly, it is NOT Zazen (from the Zenshu sect — more information below). In contrast, Zenshu Buddhism was the domain of the upper echelons of society, particularly the Samurai class. While, today, the Zenshu sect might have more economic capital, the Nenbutsushu sect is more popular. This link provides some demographic…