California Parents Want Yoga Banned From Schools (Because It Teaches Hinduism?)

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A school district in California is doing a great thing: They are including yoga classes into the schedule for the kids to get some movement, stretching, and focus before diving into their studies. The problem is, a group of parents want yoga banned from school because they believe it teaches hinduism (which, for the last time, it does not).

According to NPR, some parents from the Encinitis, CA school district don’t want their children participating, as one mother, Mary Eady, explained to NPR:

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.

These things, she believes, are spiritual teachings that reflect the Hindu religion:

It’s stated in the curriculum that it’s meant to shape the way that they view the world, it’s meant to shape the way that they make life decisions. It’s meant to shape the way that they regulate their emotions and the way that they view themselves.

Eady is so upset over yoga in her son’s school that she and a group of parents are actually working with Dean Broyles, president and chief counsel of the Escondido-based National Center for Law and Policy. Broyles also equates yoga to religion:

And then the question becomes — if it is religious, which it is, who decides when enough religion has been stripped out of the program to make it legal? I mean, that’s the problem when you introduce religion into the curriculum and actually immerse and marinate children in the program.

To aid in their fight, the group of parents opposed to yoga in the classroom have launched an online petition that has roughly 260 signatures.

It’s puzzling, really, that parents don’t understand what yoga is all about. Sure, there are parts of this practice that allow us to focus on our world and our surroundings, being grateful and being present in our daily lives. But does that make this a religion? Hardly.

It seems to be the people who don’t practice yoga are the ones opposed to it. Have they even tried it themselves? Do they even understand how beneficial this practice can be for the mind and body? Kids, in particular, can really benefit from this. They are forced to sit in an indoor classroom for six or more hours a day, being told to sit still, pay attention and do their work. Without adequate time to relax, de-stress and calm their bodies and minds, this is nearly an impossible task (just ask any elementary school teacher).


Luckily, not all parents are opposed to yoga in school. The ones who are for it responded with their own petition, which now has over 2,700 signatures.

Tell us what you think. Should yoga remain in the schools?



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    • AStewart

      I think you have missed the boat slightly in that, while it might not be religious, it is deeply spiritual as it teaches you to open this, and connect with that, and that doing these positions will help with this. It is an experience entirely removed from thr modern Christian viewpoint, for example my aunt is still not happy for me to do it (I’m in my twenties) as she doesn’t agree with opening your mind as it could let the devil in.
      I don’t necessarily agree with these parents (my own view is that you should keep it spiritual or just do stretches, not the commercial rubbish you get in between), but I appreciate their point.

    • Anita

      Wow, this is idiotic. I’m HIndu and my practice of yoga has nothing to do with my religion. It can, should I choose it to, but I do not. It’s like meditation…you CHOOSE your focus in meditation, be it God or innner peace or even a feeling (alot of people meditate on positive thoughts, not religious at all). As for thanking the sun, why not? Does it have to be religious? Whatever you believe, there are scientific benefits to the body of the sun, trees, water, etc., what’s wrong with saying that you for the benefits? Instead of banning yoga altogether, why don’t parents do their jobs and talk to their children about what they are learning, and how it may or may not apply to their familial beliefs? My parents weren’t comfortable with me learning sex-ed in the third grade (teaching that to an 8-year old is ok, but YOGA is a problem…talk about messed up priorities), but they allowed it as part of the curriculum, and spoke to me about our own beliefs about sex, love and marriage. When I was in school, I had to get up and sing “Our father” everyday. I didn’t grow up to change religions, I grew up to be more inclusive of all religions. Let your kids learn different points of view, and teach them yours too…they won’t abandon the values they learn in an open and loving family, they’ll just learn to treat the differences between us with respect.

    • Kimbery Cool Cat Campbell

      this is pretty ridiculous, yoga is a beautiful practice and it’s taught me a lot about myself and how to treat others and how to respect the world and the universe. I wish that I had learned what yoga has taught me at a younger age, and I don’t know why any parent would not want their child to learn to respect their dwindling environment for what it is and learn to respect those around them- plus be able to sit in silence with themselves- can no one see the benefits to all of these helpless kids on ADD medication because they’re “out of control”?

      Not to mention that having and believing in a power/something bigger than yourself is HUGLY beneficial for children to help them realize that they are not the center of the world. Yoga doesn’t force you to believe in Buddha but it connects you to the “god”/higher power in yourself- helping you realize that you are capable of anything on your own.

    • FV

      The little girl in the picture should consider bending her elbows a little and rolling her shoulders away from her ears. This will strengthen her back muscles and open up the chest muscles. This prevents slouching and will allow her to have a nice effortless posture throughout her life.

      If she closed her eyes and took slow deep breaths, this will create a body/mind state that is exactly opposite to stress. This way she will be less stressed throughout her life.

      If she tuned-in to the sensations in her body with a calm and patient awareness, these qualities will also manifest later in her life, like a Pavlovian response.

      The implications of just this throughout this little girl’s life are profoundly beneficial to her and all those around her. However, with a calm and attentive mind, she will notice more. An examined life is a natural threat to unexamined belief patterns and outdated world views. This unstated concern is understandable.

    • Jill

      It is illegal to require a student to stand during the Pledge of Allegience because the very act of standing is a degree of participation and kids must be allowed to be non participants. It is illegal to have a moment of silence at the start of the school day because this practice could be construed by some as encouraging prayer. As long as these are the standards, then yoga should not be permitted. I am a Christian who enjoys and benefits from yoga, but it is ingenuous to state that there is no spiritual “angle” to the practice. Those who rushed to ban every remnant of religion from public life should not whine when the same standards are used against practices with which they agree.

      Yes, kids would benefit from the yoga, IMHO, but then I also believe that they would benefit from a moment of silent meditation at the beginning of the school day. The rules have to apply equally to right wing Born-Agains and to Liberal Humanists. It is too late to argue for common sense to prevail; the rules and standards have already been established, and guess what? It sure wasn’t traditonal Christians who drove these standards into existence.

    • Christie Bevis (scsu student)

      As a college student, I have had
      many chances to participate in yoga activities during this school year. Yoga
      can be incorporated into fitness class, social events, and fundraisers. Times
      change very often, along with fads that
      are thrown in and out of our culture. Yoga is currently a very popular fad, yoga had
      become common within schools and gyms. Yoga is a great way to perform physical
      exercise while enjoying your time. Yoga is relaxing but also keeps the body

      Recently parents are trying to ban
      yoga from school because they deem it a religious act. It’s true that yoga has
      a Hindu background but that does not mean that everyone who practices
      associates it with religion. The outlook of yoga is very different from person
      to person. It would be unconstitutional for the government to restrict yoga from
      school because of its previous religious stand point. I do not believe that
      yoga should be banned from school because some may see it as a religious act,
      the majority of people do not so it would not be accurate to make a law for a
      small percentage that is against yoga.

    • Erua

      Of course, yoga has to remain! Too bad they don’t do this in my own school. I am sixteen years old, and I want to start yoga classes, but my parents don’t let me because they are being as ridiculous as these parents were.