Indian Supreme Court to take up question of yoga in schools

If you thought the question of whether yoga can be taught in schools was somehow uniquely American, here’s something to check out:

Months after a US court ruled that yoga cannot be construed as an instrument of religious indoctrination, the Supreme Court in India is all set to dwell on the same question: If yoga can be made compulsory in all schools although it may be perceived to have religious overtone.

“Can we be asking all the schools to have one period for yoga classes everyday when certain minority institutions may have reservations against it? What kind of directions we may pass when these institutions may ask us why are you asking our wards to practice yoga when we don’t want them to practice (positions like) ‘pranayama’ or ‘shirshasana’,” questioned the court Friday.

A Bench of Justices H L Dattu and M Y Eqbal expressed its quandary over issuing court orders to introduce yoga as a compulsory subject in schools. “We understand its relevance but can we say yoga is a must? Suppose children from an institution tell us we don’t want it, what do we do? What if minority institutions assert their own set of rights and question our orders? They are not before us as we hear this plea,” noted the Bench.

At issues are classes on both pranayama and asana. Should we consider the Indian Supreme Court the ultimate authority on this one? (Here’s another story covering the issue.)

We might also see more court cases in the U.S. Here’s a story from New Mexico:

Yoga is taught at John Baker Elementary School in Albuquerque, but the term itself is taboo.

Physical education teacher Ann Paulls-Neal on Friday told a legislative committee that she refers to yoga as “stretching or mat work” to avoid any suggestion that the class is religious in nature.

Nonetheless, state Rep. Alonzo Baldonado, an evangelical Christian, questioned her about whether alternate activities are offered to children who object to yoga based on their religious beliefs.

Paulls-Neal said she had one student, a Jehovah’s Witness, who was excused from yoga on request.

She said her yoga class makes no mention of any religion, instead placing all the emphasis on physical activity and its importance in staying healthy.

Paulls-Neal, other teachers and a physician testified before the Legislative Education Study Committee about programs to combat childhood obesity.

Baldonado, R-Los Lunas, said his concern was that yoga is grounded in Eastern religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism.

We’ll see where that heads. Finally, and quickly, a few more out takes from the Smithsonian’s gala to celebrate the opening of its yoga art exhibit. This via U.S. News & World Report’s Washington Whispers:

Whispers asked the Baldwins who amongst the leaders on Capitol Hill might benefit from a little yoga posing. “Let’s get Mitch [McConnell] down on the floor and get him stretched out,” Alec Baldwin said, referring to the Republican Senate Minority Leader. Baldwin pointed to the $3 billion Kentucky dam project that got tacked on to this week’s debt deal. (The Kentucky lawmaker says he’s not the one responsible for the “Kentucky Kickback,” as some conservatives are calling it.) “I think Mitch should take some of that money…and get himself a mat and some blocks,” Alec Baldwin suggested.

Hilaria Baldwin mentioned Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. “Can I give a class to Ted Cruz? No?” she said. “I think Ted Cruz is beyond hope,” her husband interjected. “I think if Ted Cruz went to prison and studied yoga in the mountains for 10 years it wouldn’t help him.”

But then the couple reconsidered. “What about that bed of nails we just saw?” Hilaria Baldwin asked, noting a part of the Smithsonian exhibit. “I could see Ted Cruz on a bed of nails, yeah, that I could see,” Alec Baldwin replied.

“It’s not as torture, it’s to be able to deal with your issues,” his wife interjected.

There you have it.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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