The reported opposition to observing 21st June as International Yoga Day by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) (http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/muslim-law-board-says-no-to-yoga/article7292638.ece) is uncalled for. The AIMPLB's apprehension that Surya Namaskar offers obeisance to the Sun God is reminiscent of Hindu Idol worship is a bit misguided. At best Surya Namaskar traces its origins to paganistic rituals.
The universal merit of yoga lies in the fact that it augments fitness and health indices for people of all ages, walks of life and shades of health. Regardless of race, caste, wealth colour, creed or diet, yoga offers a universal and equal opportunity to refurbish health and fitness for all, something that needs to be inculcated in school going children from a young age. The merits of entire generations learning and practicing yoga has infinite advantages on the health index alone.
Imagine if school going children practice yoga daily from a young age till they are 65. It almost guarantees protection from asthma, cancer, cholesterol, diabetes, hyper tension, kidney disorders, heart diseases, orthopaedic issues, multiple sclerosis, nervous disorders, thyroid, tumours, xenophobia etc. It is also proven to be good for people in the reproductive age bracket. The spiritual contribution of yoga is proving to be the best medicine for mental health disorders … for – in simple words– it offers the best short cut to discipline, peace and platonic platitude!
In this attempt Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts at universalising yoga as a distinct cultural and traditional medicine contribution of India on the world stage for future generations has not just received UN Secretary General’s backing and aquiescence, but needs the support of all institutions around the whole planet in an apolitical spirit for health cheer.
Surya Namaskar comprises of a set of ahsanas or yogic postures that offer exercise to all parts and organs of the body, but benefits the heart, the most. It is not just an obeisance to the Sun. If Muslims are offended by Surya Namaskar, there are any number of other ahsanas or postures to learn and practise for the health benefits of the younger generation of Muslims.
The AIMPLB should thus not oppose teaching of yoga to school and college students. Learning yoga and other community participation from a school age helps children integrate better emotionally intellectually and physically too.
For its part the Government’s guidelines to schools and yoga masters should be not to make Surya Namaskar mandatory… given the diverse ahsanas of Surya Namaskar, offering diversity to students would be in the spirit of diversity too. There is no need for nationalism or any other sentiment in the imparting of yoga either. Yoga teachers must guide students to learn all but practise only those ahsanas that are best suited for each of them individually. It is thus futile to oppose learning / teaching of yoga in schools / colleges.