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Yoga Battle: Mr Owaisi, Read This US Court Ruling

Yoga in Schools, GREAT! But Religion in Yoga? US Court Ruling Counters Owasi’s Yoga Rant.

Updated
India
2 min read
People take part in a group yoga practice on the morning of the summer solstice in New York’s Times Square, June 21, 2013. (Photo: Reuters)

In the run up to the International Yoga Day Celebrations on June 21, there are objections and allegations running amok. The Maharashtra State Education Minister has urged all schools to remain open and all students to be in attendance on the day, incidentally a Sunday.

While doing yoga, one needs to do surya-namaskar, which means you pray to the sun. The government needs to understand Muslims cannot pray to anybody except Allah. Secondly, it will be Ramzan that day. Why put people through unnecessary physical stress in our holy month?
-Asaddudin Owaisi, AIMIM Chief, to PTI

While all the deep breathing, stretching, muscle-strengthening and meditation have now been given a religious twist in India, there were some parents in the US too who had echoed similar concerns. The California appeals court ruling on March 4, 2015 set the record straight by stating that Yoga taught in San Diego county schools does on violate religious freedom.

Court judgment excerpts:

- We see nothing in the content of the District’s yoga program that would cause a reasonable observer to conclude that the program had the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion.

- …it is clear that while yoga may be practiced for religious reasons, it cannot be said to be inherently religious or overtly sectarian.

- …contemporary yoga is commonly practiced in the United States for reasons that are entirely distinct from religious ideology.

- In sum, in light of the lack of any evidence that the District’s yoga program advances any religious concepts or ideas, we conclude that a reasonable observer would not view the program as either advancing or inhibiting religion.

The court went on to recognise that better physical health and increase in flexibility was the main motivation for people taking up Yoga and it wasn’t the “religious content” that attracted them.

So Mr Owaisi, let’s all just take a deep breath and keep religious overtones away from Yoga.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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