University of Mississippi (UM), a public research institution, is offering “Yoga for Performers” course in its Music Department.
Announcement for this one credit course says: “This class is designed to enhance the development of performers by employing yoga to maintain and promote physical and mental health. Yoga develops core strength, flexibility, coordination, and focus, while reducing anxiety and stress associated with performing in public.” According to reports, students have to create a 30-minute yoga program in the second semester.
Founded in 1848, UM (affectionately known as Ole Miss), Mississippi’s flagship and largest university, is included in the elite group of R-1. With more than 24,000 students and operating budget of $2.448 billion (FY 2016), its libraries house nearly 4.43 million volumes of books and journals. Jeffrey S. Vitter and Professor Robert D. Riggs are Chancellor and Music Department Chair respectively of UM, whose “philosophy” includes: “Nurtures excellence in teaching, learning, creativity, and research”.
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. 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.
Meanwhile, distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada today, commended UM for making yoga available to its public performers, calling it a step in the positive direction. Zed urged all US universities and colleges to provide yoga in their campuses so that the students, faculty, other employees and public could explore various benefits yoga offered.
Rajan Zed further said that yoga, although introduced and nourished by Hinduism, was a world heritage and liberation powerhouse to be utilized by all.
Yoga was the repository of something basic in the human soul and psyche, Zed added.