Popular Yoga Class Nixed Due to Budget Cuts in Milpitas

By Monica Luhar, India-West, Mar 16, 2012     

The Milpitas Public Library has decided to temporarily eliminate a popular yoga course offered by Yoga Bharati, a non-profit in the San Francisco Bay Area, after the Milpitas City Council voted to reduce library hours and other city-related programs.
The library’s hours will be reduced from 66 hours to 54 hours a week by April 1, according to a 4-1 vote by Milpitas city councilmembers Feb. 21.
Due to the lack of funding, the popular course, Free Tuesday Night Yoga, which has been successfully running at the Milpitas Public Library for over a year and a half, will be eliminated March 27. The decision was made by the library’s management team after assessing and reevaluating the city council’s decision to reduce library hours.
According to Milpitas Mayor Jose Esteves, he opposed the reduced library hours proposed by Milpitas city manager Thomas Williams.
“I opposed the cutting of library hours because it also impacts programs like yoga. The city should first cut all excessive city employee compensation before cutting important city services,” Esteves told India-West via e-mail.
“We are reaching out to the yoga group to see if they can use our other city facilities. Yoga is a great program for our community,” he added.
Ashwini Surpur, director of yoga therapy at Yoga Bharati, told India-West that the non-profit organization has been offering various free yoga courses at public libraries and temples for many years.
“Many people cannot afford exotic yoga classes or gym programs that cost a lot of money,” said Surpur.
Surpur, who is disheartened by the reductions and city-wide cutbacks, believes that the elimination of the course will have a huge impact to the community especially because of the popularity and high attendance rate of the class.
Over the years, volunteers at Yoga Bharati have dedicated their time to teach members of the community the benefits of yoga. “Our goal is to bring yoga in its original form and create harmony and peace. Facilities like temples and public libraries are all community places. Ultimately, money well spent is money saved,” she added.
Lalitha Padubidri, a Free Tuesday Night Yoga instructor and Yoga Bharati volunteer, highlighted some of her concerns regarding the elimination of her course, during a March 6 public hearing regarding some of the proposed reductions affecting libraries and department costs at Milpitas City Hall. According to Padubidri, she has collected more than 40 petition signatures from members of her yoga class. The Indian American added that her course attracted over 50 individuals on a weekly basis.
“Any budget cut to a public library and the cancellation of popular courses such as yoga is a huge loss to our community,” Padubidri told India-West.
“A lot of people are going to be disappointed when they can’t attend the course,” Milpitas community librarian Linda Arbaugh told India-West.
“We have just three evenings a week of auditorium availability for the public. It didn’t seem fair to commit a third of that time to one program,” said Arbaugh.
Another yoga program offered by Yoga Bharati will continue to be available for the public every Friday at 11:30 a.m. at the library, according to McInerney.
The only setback to the second course, according to Padubidri, is its timing. The original class provided a convenient time for working individuals, she added.

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