On ‘developing a universally acceptable yoga curriculum for our schools and universities’

Here’s a response to the latest ruling in the Encinitas schools yoga program that is worth a few minutes of reflection:

Anti-yoga activists fail to see the spiritual aspects of yoga. To many, the benefits of yoga are only at the body level. They fail to realise its potential benefits in uniting the body, mind and breath. Besides physical benefits like a strong and confident body, regular yoga provides us mental, psychological and neurological benefits. Yoga enhances our intuitive and creative capabilities.

The renewed global interest in yoga is mainly because of its health potential. It is time to understand the spiritual dimensions of yoga. Yogic spirituality is not just about healthy living. As Rev Joseph Pereira, a Mumbai-based Catholic priest and proponent of Iyengar Yoga, says, most people, however, have reduced yoga to acrobatics, but yoga is not just a work out, it is a work in.

You might recognize those last few phrases. We’ve heard, and I know passed on, Tim Miler’s describing yoga as a “work in” not a workout.

There’s a lot in this piece that makes sense, but I think it also illustrates how just claiming that yoga is a “science” and not a religion doesn’t quite make the case. The issue, I think, is yoga’s esoteric aspects. It isn’t science, as we tend to think of that — unless you’re talking quantum physics or something that pushes beyond the visible. (Probably it is worth noting that a lot of people I hear talking about yoga seem to swerve toward this idea of science.) There’s something out of body about it, which pushes toward notions like spirituality and religion.

The flip side to this is something — Crossfit, hyper distance running, maybe — that begins totally in the body and is maybe grounds itself in science. But then there’s an effort to describe how someone feels after, or even during — and that pushes it toward the more ineffable. Unless they call it the “burn” or something along those lines.

But because it starts as a workout, an exercise, there’s no issue with its religiousness.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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