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Hindus urge student referendum at Benedictine College to decide yoga’s fate

Hindus are urging referendum among all students of Benedictine College (BC), a Roman Catholic college in Atchison (Kansas), on whether to keep or discard yoga.

“Concerned student body”, which started an online petitions at “care2 PETITIONS” to “bring back yoga” to BC, has received 99 supporters. “Yoga is a great way to be active and live a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately for us at Benedictine College that right has been stripped away. Sign up now and promote the physical and mental well being of our campus”, its announcement says.

Joshua R., commenting in this petition, wrote: Removing it from your curriculum makes absolutely no sense and you are robbing your students of an opportunity for growth. Kenneth H. mentioned: Just because a healthy way of exercise, and way to relieve stress, stems from a different religion does not mean it should not be allowed on campus. Laura R. indicated: The practice is not demonic…Stop treating students like infants. Erica L. stated: Yoga should be available to all… Dakota L. said:…It allows us to take a step back and breath.

According to a news item posted in “The Circuit” (Benedictine College Student News) on April five, titled “Benedictine College to do away with academic and recreational yoga”: “Benedictine College Administration just announced that campus is no longer offering academic or recreational yoga classes after spring semester 2017.”

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that in view of the apparently substantial student interest in keeping yoga in BC, it was quite appropriate for BC in a democratic society to hold a student referendum. Moreover, referendum would be quite compatible with the “values” of the BC, which include “service to the common good, respect for the individual” and “seeking the truth”.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, also urged BC to relook into their reported yoga decision and not deny its students the opportunities of exploring various valuable benefits yoga offered.

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, Rajan Zed noted.

Zed further said that yoga, although introduced and nourished by Hinduism, was a world heritage and liberation powerhouse to be utilized by all. According to Patanjali who codified it in Yoga Sutra, yoga was a methodical effort to attain perfection, through the control of the different elements of human nature, physical and psychical.

According to US National Institutes of Health, yoga may help one to feel more relaxed, be more flexible, improve posture, breathe deeply, and get rid of stress. According to a “2016 Yoga in America Study”, about 37 million Americans (which included many celebrities) now practice yoga; and yoga is strongly correlated with having a positive self image.  Yoga was the repository of something basic in the human soul and psyche, Rajan Zed added.

“The Circuit” news item also indicated that the decision was made by the request of Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City and Vice Chair of the College Board Abbot James Albers of St. Benedict’s Abbey. “Yoga as created has some potential for eastern mysticism which has caused concern among members of the Catholic Church,” “The Circuit” quoted College President Stephen D. Minnis, and added that Archbishop Naumann has expressed his concerns.

BC, founded on the Benedictine tradition, still seems to have yoga instructor Crystal Sanders on its Faculty of Department of Exercise Science.

Launched in 1858 and claimed to be “Named one of America’s Best Colleges”, BC offers 52 graduate and undergraduate programs and has campuses in Italy and Ireland also. BC, where “students can attend daily Mass, Confession and bible studies held throughout campus”, boasts of one Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and students from 49 US states and 14 foreign countries.

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