The National Fatwa Council has issued a fatwa that the ancient Hindu art of Yoga is off limits to Muslims. You can read Malaysiakini's article about it here. I must say that while this fatwa does not come as a surprise to me, I see it as something distasteful in multi-racial Malaysia. Of course, the fatwa is only binding on Muslims. I understand that. But whatever said and done, I am a Hindu. Yoga is part of my thousands-of-years-old tradition. So I am obviously irritated that a part of my tradition is being judged by someone else as being a threat to their religion.
Let's get a few things straight. First, Hinduism is one religion that you can't actually convert, per say, into. Hinduism is a way of life. It is a collection of rites and rituals, based on ancient wisdom and teachings. While you can always learn the religion, start going to temples and call yourself a Hindu convert, there are no rituals in particular to declare one 'a Hindu from this day forth', religiously speaking, that is.
Second, to the best of my knowledge, we Hindus never did any promotion campaign for yoga. We never marketed it to the world, neither do we actually profit from its worldwide popularity and interest these days. The non-Hindus are tho ones who learnt it, saw its health benefits (and market potential) and willingly accepted it as a form of exercise. No doubt, it is quite an industry nowadays, both abroad and right here in Malaysia. Of course it is linked with Hindu practices and worship. That's just the way Hinduism is. Religion and life is inseparable to a Hindu, much like how it is for a Muslim. Our daily routine is intertwined with our religion. To what extent, is a matter of individual choice.
On a lighter note, I'd really like to see what else the fatwa boys will decide to ban after tomboys and yoga. Thosai perhaps? Most Hindu-owned restaurants have altars, you know! And they do a prayer before starting business for the day. Ban murukku perhaps? How about issuing a fatwa banning all Muslims from watching Bollywood movies? Datuk Shah Rukh Khan has played Hindu and Buddhist roles before, you know! After all, to quote the words of the National Fatwa council chairperson Dr Abdul Shukor Husin, "doing one thing could lead to another" and "it will ultimately lead to religious worshiping and chanting which is against Islam".