SBU offers ‘Yoga with Sarah’ on campus
BOLIVAR—Southwest Baptist University (SBU) is offering a yoga class that is said to be “very popular and well attended” at the Ken Meyer Wellness and Sports Center.
J.D. Lynch, who directs the center, explained that yoga is one of several fitness classes at SBU. The class, “Yoga With Sarah,” is advertised as being “a time for stretching and strengthening the body in a relaxed atmosphere.” There is no mention about yoga being a Hindu-type exercise.
“Yoga and Pilates are offered as low-impact workouts in comparison to cardio jam, cardio step, and others that stress the joints and ligaments,” Lynch wrote in an email. “Yoga is currently commodified nationally as a program element by the fitness industry and is an integral part of a high percentage of commercial and institutional formats. The yoga classes are very popular and well attended by our constituents. The class ‘Yoga With Sarah’ is offered by an instructor named Sarah, and the term ‘yoga’ is the more politically correct term with students rather than a ‘stretching class.’”
Yoga is from the Vedic, or Hindu, cultures. Historians say it is 5,000 years old; as such, it is not Christian. The practice of yoga is designed to unite the individual with the Infinite, according to an article by Dennis McGuire on yoga.com. Subhas R. Tiwari, professor at the Hindu University of America, has also explained that the American process of calling yoga “just exercise” is an insult to yoga purists who seek to guard their form of worship.
“The effort to separate yoga from Hinduism must be challenged because it runs counter to the fundamental principles upon which yoga itself is premised, the yamas (restraints) and niyamas (observances),” Tiwari wrote. “These ethical tenets and religious practices are the first two limbs of the eight-limbed ashtanga yoga system which also includes asana (postures), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (sense withdrawal), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (contemplation/self realization). Efforts to separate yoga from its spiritual center reveal ignorance of the goal of yoga.”
SBU President C. Pat Taylor often repeats the university mission statement that SBU is “a Christ-centered, caring academic community preparing students to be servant-leaders in a global society.” Lynch was asked about the compatibility between the terms “Christ-centered” and “yoga” as they co-exist on the Bolivar campus.
“Everything we do at the Wellness Center is guided by our university mission statement,” Lynch said.