Parents Protest Yoga Being Taught In Public Elementary Schools

Encinitas California Elementary Schools, Student Yoga Practice, Elementary School yoga classes, Parent Protest, Children Physical Education, California physical education, yoga practice for children

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Yoga is revered for its holistic health benefits for the mind, body and soul — but can yoga as an exercise be divorced from its Hindu roots? That’s the question that parents began to ask in Encinitas, California when they learned their children practice Ashtanga yoga during elementary school hours, as part of a comprehensive fitness program. The wellness program is made possible by a $500,000 grant from the K.P. Jois Foundation, who wholeheartedly defend their mission to teach children yoga — and their goal is to expand their yoga classes to the rest of the schools in the area.

Do you think yoga should be taught in school?

  • 677 Votes YES! Yoga is just another form of exercise that teaches flexibility and helps calm the mind.
  • 42 Votes NO! I don't want my child being taught Hindu practices
  • 31 Votes I'm not sure. I see both sides of the story.

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Encinitas California Elementary Schools, Student Yoga Practice, Elementary School yoga classes, Parent Protest, Children Physical Education, California physical education, yoga practice for children

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The controversy began when one parent, Mary Eady, visited her child’s fitness class last year and was disturbed by what she saw. “They were being taught to thank the sun for their lives and the warmth that it brought, the life that it brought to the earth, and they were told to do that right before they did their sun salutation exercises,” she argues. Eady is part of a group of concerned parents who feel that yoga can’t be separated from religion. They want the class to become optional so that those with concerns can remove their children.

Proponents of yoga practice argue that it is simply part of a healthy physical exercise education program, and that doing yoga is just one way in which children are taught to care for their bodies. They also argue that yoga teaches mental discipline, allowing children to learn to regulate their emotions. Encinitas Superintendent Tim Baird explains that in Encinitas classrooms, yoga is only part of a broader curriculum to teach children nutrition, life skills and responsibility.

What do you think? Should teaching yoga in schools be allowed or protested?

via and KPBS

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13 Responses to “Parents Protest Yoga Being Taught In Public Elementary Schools”

  1. lin says:

    How is thanking the sun religious or harmful. Some people. sheesh. I’m guessing/hoping most people don’t actually have an issue with this.

  2. zizi047 says:

    It should definitely be allowed. Yoga promotes a healthy lifestyle for both body and mind. And YES, the class should be optional, but only letting the children decide if they would like to partake. For those who don’t, they can then join an alternative fitness/well-being routine.

    And what’s wrong with thanking the sun for life? Last time I checked, without the sun, we won’t be alive, regardless of religious subscription or not.

  3. carolyncan says:

    Parents need to do what they believe is right for their children & allow other parents to do the same. If Yoga is really contrary to their belief system, then they should be able to request an alternative activity — without making a big issue of it & forcing the school to discontinue the program for everyone. I would be thrilled if my child had the opportunity to practice Yoga at her school. While I respect others’ opinions & beliefs, I expect the same courtesy in return.

  4. mshel says:

    It is a shame that some people cannot see the wood for the trees! What saddens me most is the small mindedness of a few will generally rule over the Liberal viewpoint of majority!

  5. SaffronLikeTheSpice says:

    I think it is essential that children get more physical exercise in schools and that yoga is just one of many ways to do this. Furthermore, yoga provides the opportunity for children to learn how to manage their stress, skills that they can carry through the rest of their lives. While I find it difficult to understand how someone could see thanking the sun as religious, i do appreciate that people are entitled to their own opinions. My question is, why don’t they just take that part out of the yoga practice? Why is it necessary to thank the sun? I have never had to do that in any of the yoga classes I have taken.

  6. diynevala says:

    While I would recommend astanga yoga as an exercise for anyone, I realize that yoga also has it’s spiritual side to it. If the exercises practiced at school did not contain ANY spiritual guidance against other religions or ideals, it should not be called yoga. I would recommend “stretching and relaxation” instead, just like the “merry christmas” is “happy holidays” and “christian values” are “moral and ethics”.

    I am quite sure that the kids were given purely a physical exercise, not a spiritual one, but the problem lies in what the exercise is called.

  7. ljhtg says:

    There are many forms of yoga but they all seem to provide similar experiences, improved flexibility and balance, two things that help in all walks of life and improving mind, body and soul. What are they afraid of?

  8. notascoolasyou says:

    So, based upon a couple of the comments–practices grounded in Hinduism and Eastern mysticism in general are good and liberal and make for healthy, happy kids. Other religious beliefs (We know we’re talking about Christianity here, of course.) are close-minded and bad. It’s a shame that Christianity doesn’t have a hip exercise program or way of breathing/chanting to make it fashionable with the enlightened, cool kids. Maybe they should hire Jillian Michaels to make a DVD, something like Jumba for Jesus?

    Also, for those who missed it: “They want the class to become optional so that those with concerns can remove their children.” They’re not “making a big issue of it & forcing the school to discontinue the program for everyone.”

  9. mapleleaf75cdn says:

    I believe in God. I believe in Jesus. These yoga movements are tributes to Hindu dieties that are considered Paganism. I have respect for other religions but please done confuse my child during their wonder years. I have a hard enough time getting them to mass every Sunday

  10. telegramsam123 says:

    The same people that think yoga is an ‘entry level drug’ to Hinduism are the same ‘Christians’ that are ignorant to the fact that Santa Clause, Christmas and almost every holiday celebrated on the Christian calendar [“ Halloween’] is a link to paganism.

  11. surfinid says:

    Yoga has been around for over 5000 years, and many other classes use the same poses, stretches and movements, without calling it “yoga”. If I ask someone to do a “runner’s stretch” by bringing one ankle under the opposite leg and stretching through the hamstring and glute, it’s the same as if I ask a yoga student to perform “pigeon”. In neither case are we worshiping anything – just enjoying the stretch, focusing our breaths, and tuning into our own bodies and their abilities and limitations. It will not confuse your child, just help their flexibility.

  12. gncarlson says:

    Mary Eady is obviously an idiot.

  13. amyp93 says:

    I think what freaks most people out including myself before I started my practice is it looks like you are worshipping another Idol but yoga is meant for you to connect with your body and your environment and the higher power you seek. It is entirely possible to leave out the higher power part of taught in a public school but overall I wish I would have had this outlet when I was in school. There is far to much bullying in the world and to teach little ones to leave their egos behind and respect their environment, their bodies, and the people around them can’t possibly be a bad thing to engrave into our world

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