Although Alabama public schools were reportedly allowed to offer yoga through state legislation after about 28 years ban, with Governor Kay Ivey signing a bill on May 20 last, schools still seem to be shy of introducing it.
But Birmingham City School District (BCSD), which runs 42 schools with over 22,000 students, seemed to have taken the lead and launched yoga the week of January 10th in three elementary schools—Minor, Oxmoor Valley, West End; involving about 115 fifth graders.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, commended BCSD for coming forward; and urged other Alabama school boards/districts to actively follow. Seemingly a small-scale step for a large school district like BCSD, but it was undoubtedly a step in the positive direction.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, emailed sometime back to superintendents of 67 larger school boards/districts of Alabama asking whether yoga had been adopted in their schools, and none of them replied in affirmative.
Responding to Rajan Zed; Dothan City Schools Superintendent Dr. Dennis R. Coe wrote: “At this point, we have made no steps toward the implementation of this law”. Gadsden City Schools Superintendent Tony Reddick said: “We have had no requests by students, staff, parents, teachers or administrators to incorporate yoga into our curriculum”. Hoover City Schools Assistant Superintendent Ron Dodson indicated: “We haven’t had time since of May of 2021 to do much of anything beyond managing the COVID-19 crisis and recovering lost math and reading learning from the pandemic”. Cullman County Schools Superintendent Shane Barnette noted: “There are currently no yoga classes being offered in our district”. Etc.
Zed said that it was sad that various school boards/districts and schools were not stepping forward to embrace multi-beneficial yoga, which was urgently needed to be incorporated in the lives of Alabama’s public-school students.
Rajan Zed indicated that Alabamans should not to be scared of yoga at all. Overwhelming majority of yoga instructors and practitioners in USA and Alabama were non-Hindus and they usually stayed non-Hindus sticking to their own respective faith traditions even after years of yoga practice. Moreover, traditionally Hinduism was not into proselytizing.
Zed further said that apparent reluctance to introduce yoga was clearly doing a disservice to Alabama’s K-12 public school students and denying them the valuable opportunities yoga provided.
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. Yoga, although introduced and nourished by Hinduism, was a world heritage and liberation powerhouse to be utilized by all. Yoga was the repository of something basic in the human soul and psyche, Rajan Zed emphasized.
Alabama Department of Education reportedly does not collect any data on yoga in schools, does not provide yoga training to teachers, has no budget for yoga, has not established any procedure for introducing yoga. There are reportedly approximately 730,000 students in about 1,500 public schools in about 147 school boards/districts in Alabama.