Yoga Row – Critical Commentary

Posted on May 2, 2013 by


Parents of the students in the Encinitas Union School District in California objected to the practice of daily yoga their children were participating in and have brought the issue to a lawsuit. On May 20th, 2013 the ‘School Yoga’ hearing will start and many people do not know what path or turns Judge John Meyer will take when making his final decision on whether or not Yoga should be allowed in public school districts. The article, “The White House Gets Behind Yoga,” analyzes a two opposing views of whether or not yoga should be allowed in the school systems.

Yoga has become very popular in our western culture in the past few years. It has developed into a key part of a healthy life style. Whether it contributes physically or mentally to an individual’s well-being it plays a large role in many people’s daily lives. Although yoga has become ever so popular in many westerners’ lives, their use and practice of yoga differs immensely from easterners’ and the origins of yoga.  Yoga’s connection to the Sanskrit is lost in many western practices of yoga but yet will always remain the origin of yoga. It will play a major role in the decision of the “School Yoga” hearing whether or not they choose to perceive yoga as a westerner does or as an easterner.

The White House’s initiative, Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA), is designed to support a healthy lifestyle for Americans and made a statement supporting the practice of yoga, “Yoga has become a universal language of spiritual exercise in the United States, crossing many lines of religion and cultures. Everyday millions of people practice yoga to improve their health and overall well-being. That’s why we’re encouraging everyone to take part in PALA.” In the decision of ‘School Yoga,’ they will need to decide whether or not yoga’s main purpose is for,’ they will need to decide whether or not yoga’s main purpose is for exercise or if its origin and connection to religion in the east remains its sole or main purpose.

Most believe the final decision will depend on the definition given to yoga, western versus eastern. “Let’s be honest, if the White House was actively promoting a Christian-based exercise program, I am confident there would be a huge public outcry and they would change the program. But because yoga is based in Eastern mysticism, which is not well understood, many tend to try to disingenuously downplay its religious aspects,” said Mr. Broyles. The United States of America is based upon separation of church and state and if the law upholds the true meaning and practice of yoga as it originated in the east taher than the loose, fitness based interpretation of the westerners, there is no chance it will be allowed in the public school districts. There will be a great deal of conversation over this conflict by a large number and variety of people until there is a decision made come May 2013.

Visi R. Tilak, “The White House Gets Behind Yoga”, The Wall Street Journal, 7/15/2013

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