The government of Nepal is making sure its children get their daily dose of mindfulness by requiring schools to teach yoga. Next month, yoga will be incorporated into the school curriculum, with thousands of schoolchildren from grade four to eight now enrolling in the new weekly course that previously had only been an elective.
The new curriculum will train students not only in yoga practices, but also in the history of yogic thought and classes on the self-healing principles of Ayurveda and naturopathy.
Giriraj Mani Pokhrel, Nepal’s education minister, said, “Yoga is our ancient science. We want students to learn it, and we think this is the right time.”
Nepal’s Muslim community, however, has vowed to oppose the mandatory program if the yoga classes include Hindu religious practises like the 12 poses of the sun salutation, which is dedicated to the Hindu god Surya, or chanting “om.”
But the Nepali government insists that there is no hidden Hindu agenda and that the classes will promote a healthy and active lifestyle. Ganesh Bhattarai, the director of Nepal’s Curriculum Development Center, explained that students can choose to skip chanting “om” and the sun salutations if they wish.
Nepal would be the first country in the world to make yoga a mandatory subject in schools.