Many Christian universities/colleges in USA have been offering yoga, according to reports.
Pepperdine University in California, which claims to be committed to “Christian values”, has been offering “Prana Vinyasa Flow Yoga” class based on the classical Surya Namaskars, besides another yoga class blending vinyasa and pranayama.
Baylor University, a Baptist university in Texas, had a yoga class in Spring, which included ashtanga and vinyasa yoga. Belmont University in Tennessee, which calls itself a “Christian community”, gave yoga class in Spring, including Flow Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Yoga at the Wall
Wheaton College in Illinois, which describes itself “explicitly Christian”, offers free yoga to students, providing mats and blocks. Gordon College in Massachusetts, which claims to be “among the top Christian colleges in the nation”, has been offering Hatha Yoga and Power Yoga.
Whitworth University in Washington, which seeks to advance the mission of equipping students to “honor God, follow Christ and serve humanity”, offers yoga class combining asanas and pranayama and says it “benefits the mind and body connections”. Mississippi College, a Christian university affiliated with the Mississippi Baptist Convention, is offering a yoga class in Fall.
Welcoming the widespread interest in yoga, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that although introduced and nourished by Hinduism, yoga was a world heritage and liberation powerhouse to be utilized by all. One could still practice one’s respective faith and do yoga. Yoga would rather help one in achieving one’s spiritual goals in whatever religion one believed in.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that yoga, referred as “a living fossil” whose traces went back to around 2,000 BCE to Indus Valley civilization, was a mental and physical discipline handed down from one guru to next, for everybody to share and benefit from. 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. Yoga was based on an eightfold path to direct the practitioner from awareness of the external world to a focus on the inner, Zed added.
Rajan Zed argued that yoga, which never had any formal organization, was the repository of something basic in the human soul and psyche.
According to National Institutes of Health, yoga may help one to feel more relaxed, be more flexible, improve posture, breathe deeply, and get rid of stress. Swami Vivekananda reportedly brought yoga to USA in 1893. According to an estimate, about 16 million Americans, including many celebrities, now practice yoga.