Many Alabama churches host yoga, but public schools continue to “prohibit” it

Many Alabama churches now reportedly host/offer/conduct or have hosted/offered/conducted yoga classes, but Alabama State Department of Education continues to prohibit it in state’s public schools.

Some United Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Baptist churches in Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, Mobile, Tuscaloosa, Dothan, Decatur, Vestavia Hills, Athens, Helena, Alexander City, Pell City, Jacksonville, Gulf Shores, Mentone; now host/offer/conduct or have hosted/offered/conducted yoga classes; an internet search revealed.

But Alabama Department of Education Administrative Code 290­040­040­.02 continues to declare: School personnel shall be prohibited from using any techniques that involve the induction of hypnotic states, guided imagery, meditation or yoga.

Descriptions given about yoga/classes at the websites of some churches include: “A physical, mental, and spiritual discipline”, “Yoga- Ancient stretching, balance, flexibility and relaxation training”, “Nurture your body and soul with” Yoga, “Yoga was developed to train the body, mind and spirit to sit for long periods of time in meditation. It is a tool that can be used to cultivate a deeper relationship with God, as well as promote good health”, etc.

Yoga classes offered at some of the Alabama churches were free. Last July one church sponsored a “Goat Yoga on the farm” class with baby goats for “ages 12-112”, which included “a classy ride in the church van” to the farm with a suggestion to bring “bug spray”.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, urged Alabama Department of Education to wake up to the needs of Alabama pupils and amend its Administrative Code, permitting yoga in schools. Somebody needed to remind the Department that we lived in 21st century now.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that 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.

Various public universities of Alabama had been offering yoga in some form to their students. 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 urged Alabama Governor Kay Ellen Ivey, Alabama Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric G. Mackey and Alabama State Board of Education President Pro Tem Jackie Zeigler 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, Rajan Zed indicated.

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.