Yoga-inspired practices have been used in schools before but usually as dumbed-down versions of the ancient practice. Under known aliases such as quiet time, transcendental meditation or consciousness-based education, some schools don’t debate over the benefits of practicing mindfulness, but calling it ‘Yoga’ has some in a storm.
Two New York teachers were in the process of developing a district wide program to assist students in dealing with pre-exam stress when they were shut down after concerned parents and community critics blamed the Yoga for indoctrinating students in Hindu rites.
While the teachers have backing from board president, Julie Reagan, the opposition from parents claims making the program mandatory is causing additional stress on their children.
Board of Education president Reagan told USA Today she doesn’t think there are any hidden agendas of Hindu indoctrination.
“If the school board felt there was any hidden religious activity behind the motives of our two instructors, we certainly wouldn’t allow that,” she said. “There is absolutely none of that. The teachers are well intended and trying to offer an aspect of fitness in the classroom that relaxes and readies the children for better learning.”
The benefits of Yoga have been long noted, but so has the opposition for the practice in schools. First reports of Yoga debates date back to 1993 in Alabama, where religious leaders prohibited the teaching of Yoga in schools, citing connections between the practice and Hindu religious training. In 2002, a school in Aspen, Colorado tossed out their Yoga program from the curriculum when parents petitioned for the overthrow.
The fate of the New York debate is yet to be determined, but the program has been temporarily suspended for now.
Rev. Collin Lucid of Calvary Baptist Church in Massena, New York has said [they] are not opposed to the benefits of the program but are opposed to the philosophy behind it.”
Source: by Jordann Rawls, for Examiner.com – August 10, 2009