In the last few weeks Christian parents here in America and in Canada, and Muslim parents in India (1) have sought to stop yoga being taught in schools with complaints that the classes have religious overtones.
In schools where yoga is taught to younger children, it has been found to be a calming influence and those who learn to meditate tend to do better in school. It is even being tried to help with childhood obesity.
Yoga is both a process and a goal. Yoga exercises can help one attain Yoga or enlightenment. As an exercise one uses a style of yoga appropriate to the four stages of life: the student (learning the foundation of spiritual and family life), the householder (married with children, fulfilling worldly interests and obligations), the retired person (a time for meditation and mentoring grown children), and finally the ascetic (who , no longer involved with profession or social relations focuses on a life as an elder teacher of spiritual knowledge).
Certainly, there is nothing to prevent someone from practicing Yoga without the religious element. These parents are over-reacting by asking for a total ban. Knowledge is not the exclusive property of Western Civilization. Indeed the greatest civilization the world has ever seen as practised in the United States of America shows what happens when we accept the knowledge and science of the entire world and make it our own.
Let the French, Germans, or anyone else scoff at our arrogance and our lack of culture. But look at the rest of the world: they eagerly construct our McDonald's, drink our Coke and wear our Levis. They can't get enough of our movies, our celebrities, our music, and our style of life. As much as the world curses us, it is a shallow curse, for they still line up in the millions to come here to live and work and school. If America had a common border with France and Germany who would still be living there?
Columbia News Service, Yoga in Schools: The Ethical Concerns about its Religious Connection [Power Point]
A 2000 study at the University of Sydney in Australia found that regular yoga practice may be linked to improved impulse control in boys diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
In 2003, researchers at California State University, Los Angeles interviewed students at the Accelerated School. The South Central Los Angeles charter program, which received Time magazine’s award for Best Elementary School, includes yoga as a central part of its curriculum. The study showed that the exercises helped improve student behavior, physical health and grade point average.
Workpermit.com - US immigration hits five year high -- study, Excerpt: A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies found that 7.9 million people moved to the United States in the past five years, the highest five-year period of immigration on record.
For my Muslim readers who come here looking for naked yoga images please visit my yoga gallery (NSFW).
Muslim and Christian groups in the state of Madhya Pradesh early this year protested a new statewide government policy mandating the practice of yoga in schools.
Madhya Pradesh is a predominately Hindu state governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a predominately Hindu party. The yoga curriculum includes surya namaskara (salutation to the sun) and Hindu chants. In this case though, there is little confusion as to weather [sic] yoga is a religion: Jamiat Ulma Hind Executive Member Haji Mohd Haroon, said that the Jamiat does not object to “yogic exercise” but, to the recitation of “religious verses during surya namaskar.” (The group also objects to surya namaskar as it is a “Hindu practice” honoring the sun.) According to Anand Muttungal, a spokesperson at the Catholic Church of Madhya Pradesh, the BJP is trying to “incite religious passion under the garb of yoga.”