Hindus have welcomed Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) for its apparent softening-up on the subject of yoga, despite it being “prohibited” from state’s public schools.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, called it a step in the positive direction. He urgedState Board of Education President Governor Kay Ellen Ivey and State Superintendent Dr. Eric G. Mackey to completely lift yoga ban as this “prohibition” was clearly doing a disservice to Alabama’s K-12 public school students and denying them the valuable opportunities the multi-beneficial yoga provided.
Despite “Yoga prohibited to be taught/done on public school property before, during, or after school hours” in Alabama; various yoga linked programs appeared on the ALSDE website; Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out.
Website offered links to various yoga related iPhone/iPad Apps (saying “You can use these apps”) under “Resources” for Physical Education Teachers; including FitStar Yoga, Simply Yoga, Super Stretch Yoga HD, MINDBODY, Fitnet, Sworkit. Yoga is listed as a “supplementary intervention” under “Treatment and prevention of suicidal behavior in adolescents”.
“Social and Emotional Learning Roadmap for Reopening School” given on the website states: “Engage community partners in providing selfcare activities (e.g., yoga, exercise, mindfulness)”. “Covid-19 Plan” posted on its website, indicates: “Families will be offered and provided invaluable support networks and opportunities that promote self-care, education and empowerment”, which includes “Virtual Yoga”. Video titled “Kids Adaptive Yoga” is posted at two places on ALSDE website.
Under “Physical Education Elective Examples for Grades 9-12”, it is stated that
“stretching” can be included in the Course Content under “Fitness and Conditioning”; but a note below adds: Course may not be called Yoga; however, only Yoga technique poses/exercises and stretches may be included in the content.
Various public universities of Alabama had been reportedly offering yoga in some form to their students and some Alabama churches had also reportedly offered/announced yoga programs. If yoga was rewarding for the students of Alabama public universities, why Alabama was keeping it away from its K-12 public school students; Rajan Zed wondered.
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 a report of US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Yoga is the most popular complementary health approach in the United States – used by 14.3% of the adult population, or 35.2 million people”. 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. Yoga was the repository of something basic in the human soul and psyche, Rajan Zed added.
Alabama State Department of Education Administrative Code 290-0400-40.02, however, states: School personnel shall be prohibited from using any techniques that involve the induction of hypnotic states, guided imagery, meditation or yoga.
It defines yoga as: A Hindu philosophy and method of religious training in which eastern meditation and contemplation are joined with physical exercises, allegedly to facilitate the development of body mind spirit.
A 2006 memorandum from State Superintendent of Education, still posted on ALSDE website, advises 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.