First it was the Pledge of Allegiance, next it was the American Flag, and now Yoga. You might be thinking that the uproar of yoga pracitce is based in the thin stretchy garmets promoting sexual harassment while doing the downward dog. But you would be wrong, dead wrong. The uproar is over religion being taught in schools. Religion and yoga? Yes, religion and yoga. In fact, many people think that yoga is just a physical stretching program. Here in America it mainly is. Go to any yoga gym (Core Power Yoga, SoHo Yoga) and the focus is on the stretch and mindfulness in the way of reconnecting with your body and spirit. A few deeply traditional yoga studios will incorporate the religious aspect, but they are hard to find.
What is yoga
Techingally, yoga is a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation. It is based in religion and quite frankly without the religion it shouldn’t be called yoga. But here in America, we have stripped away the religiouis parts and monetized the stretch and release of tension.
Why is it being banned
Parents and community members are (in San Deigo, Cobb County and many others) are fighting yoga in schools based on the religious roots. Unfortuantely, most of the people fighting yoga in schools, calling for its ban, are misinformed and have never done yoga. “No prayer in schools. Some don’t even say the Pledge [of Allegiance], yet they’re pushing ideology on our students,” one mother, Susan Jaramillo, told a journalist for the area’s NBC affiliate. “Some of those things are religious practices that we don’t want our children doing in our schools.”
We have likely gone too far when we banned the Pledge and other religious activities in our public schools. Many modern day activities are based in religion. Here are just a few:
“By the seventeenth century, the Jesuit order had become the leading scientific organization in Europe, publishing thousands of papers and spreading new discoveries around the world. ” (citation)
The Gregorian Calendar (1582), now used worldwide, is a fruit of work by Catholic astronomers, as is the development of astrophysics by the spectroscopy of Fr Angelo Secchi (d 1878).
Most remarkably, the most important theory of modern cosmology, the Big Bang, was invented by a Catholic priest, Fr Georges Lemaître (d 1966, pictured), a historical fact that is almost never mentioned by the BBC or in popular science books.
the Catholic world produced the first modern scientific map: Diogo Ribeiro’s Padrón Real (1527). Fr Nicolas Steno (d 1686) was the founder of stratigraphy, the interpretation of rock strata which is one of the principles of geology.
Perhaps the greatest single contribution to education to emerge from Catholic civilisation was the development of the university system. Early Catholic universities include Bologna (1088); Paris (c 1150); Oxford (1167, pictured); Salerno (1173); Vicenza (1204); Cambridge (1209); Salamanca (1218-1219); Padua (1222); Naples (1224) and Vercelli (1228). By the middle of the 15th-century (more than 70 years before the Reformation), there were over 50 universities in Europe.
Final though – should we ban the study of Hindu Mahatma Gandhi?
I guess if we ban yoga then we need to ban all things that are based in religion, including Mahatma Gandhi. The most important takeaway from a risk management standpoint here is that church and State shouldn’t mix, but it often does. The idea should be to either include all religious views or none of them and that can means sterilizing and sanitizing things like yoga to remove their religious roots. Good or bad, I am not sure, but as you can imagine, it isn’t worth paying a lawsuit to find out.