President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. expressed concern over the imposition of a single religious sector’s will, emphasizing that everyone should respect each other’s differences as a response to the news that over 700 individuals in the country had petitioned for the government to stop yoga exercises in schools due to religious reasons.
Remengesau said that as a Christian himself, he needs to ask his fellow believers to respect the rights of others to exercise just as others respect their rights to religion.
“As long as you have the freewill to participate and decide for yourself what is good for your mental and physical [health], that’s the freedom that our constitution allows everyone to exercise,” Remengesau said.
Remengesau explained that while yoga may have had begun as a part of a religious practice, it is now conducted as an exercise that comes with great mental and physical health benefits.
“Yoga is an international activity prescribed by many renowned therapists, doctors – and that’s why it has been accepted by the [United Nations],” the president said.
Remengesau even cited that over 190 countries that are members of the UN had agreed to recognize June 21 as the International Day of Yoga. Last year, Remengesau signed a presidential proclamation supporting the UN initiative to declare the International Yoga Day, citing good benefits out of the exercise.
“It is simply mental and physical thing that has to do with one’s physical condition and mental exercise for one’s own good health,” Remengesau said.
Remengesau further explained that one could always choose to either do or not do yoga but he added that one must also consider the fact that yoga, being adopted by the UN, sends a message about the contribution of yoga.
Island Times previously reported that concerned individuals had signed a petition dated November 11, 2018 to express protest against the Ministry of Education’s yoga exercise program in schools, saying that they do not want to “subject their children to practices that have potential negative spiritual ramifications.”
The House of Delegates (HOD), during a session last February 18, had adopted the petition and forwarded it to appropriate committees for review. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)