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Hindus urge Alabama to end “prohibition” of yoga in public schools

Hindus are urging Alabama to end “prohibition” of yoga in the public schools of the State.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that this “prohibition” was clearly doing a disservice to Alabama’s students and denying them the valuable opportunities to avail the multiple benefits yoga provided.

Alabama State Department of Education Administrative Code (290­040­040­.02) includes: “School personnel shall be prohibited from using any techniques that involve the induction of hypnotic states, guided imagery, meditation or yoga”. Memorandum from State Superintendent of Education dated June 21, 2006, stated: “Our best advice and guidance from the Department of Education is that yoga not be offered during regular school hours or after regular school hours to public school students on a public school campus in Alabama”.

Moreover, listing yoga at the top of the list of “Inappropriate Activities” was highly insensitive, Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated.

Department’s website reportedly displayed “Alabama State Department of Education Inappropriate Activities” (which has now been removed), and yoga was listed at the top of eight activities.

Rajan Zed urged Alabama Governor Kay Ellen Ivey, Alabama Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric G. Mackey and Alabama State Board of Education Vice President
Stephanie Bell to seriously and urgently re-visit the issue and work towards formally introducing yoga as a part of curriculum in all the public schools of the State, thus incorporating highly beneficial yoga in the lives of Alabama’s students.

Yoga, referred as “a living fossil”, was a mental and physical discipline, for everybody to share and benefit from, whose traces went back to around 2,000 BCE to Indus Valley civilization, Zed pointed out.

Rajan Zed further said that yoga, although introduced and nourished by Hinduism, was a world heritage and liberation powerhouse to be utilized by all. According to Patanjali who codified it in Yoga Sutra, yoga was a methodical effort to attain perfection, through the control of the different elements of human nature, physical and psychical.

According to US National Institutes of Health; yoga may help one to feel more relaxed, be more flexible, improve posture, breathe deeply, and get rid of stress. According to a “2016 Yoga in America Study”, about 37 million Americans (which included many celebrities) now practice yoga; and yoga is strongly correlated with having a positive self image. Yoga was the repository of something basic in the human soul and psyche, Zed added.

A quick internet search revealed that various Alabama churches had offered/announced yoga programs; including Gadsden First United Methodist Church, Fairhope St. James Episcopal Church, Gulf Shores First Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), Dothan Covenant United Methodist Church.

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