India has recently announced they intend to teach Yoga in schools to celebrate their heritage. That is a beautiful thing.
Yoga is one of the 6 darshanas or systems of knowledge. Broadly, they can each be related to a different stage of development.
However, while Yoga is non-denominational, it’s typical practice in India is part of Hinduism, a catch-all term that includes many faiths. Some non-dualists, for example, reject some of the precepts of Yoga.
Further, much of yoga today is taught as stretching exercises, sometimes with force. While such exercises are useful, they are not actually “Yoga” in a real heritage sense. Asana is only one branch of the 8 limbs of Yoga. So now we’re down to one branch of one branch.
India is also home to a number of other faiths like Muslims, Buddhists, and Christians. If they teach it as exercises, it is not real Yoga. If they teach formal Yoga, it would be somewhat akin to church prayers being mandated in school here.
I would suggest India needs to restore it’s understanding of it’s heritage before it tries to teach it to children.
Ironically, a much more complete form of Yoga is being widely taught in S. America by a Catholic priest. Father Gabriel Mejia has established 47 shelters for street kids. When they clean up, they’re given the opportunity to become yogis and then more advanced yogis. Thousands have been trained now.
Perhaps such seeds will help wake up India to the real heritage behind the form.
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