Yogo In Schools – Excercise or Religious Teaching?

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30th Oct 2012

The School’s goal is to promote health by providing a great workout while students also get a chance to burn calories, improve flexibility, relax and reduce stress.  The mandatory yoga classes meet twice a week for 30 minute sessions.  Can you sit Indian style?  I cannot.  In any event, part of the session involves meditation and breathing aligned with a series of poses designed to increase mental focus, circulation and sweating however, it is precisely the spiritual overtones in yoga which are objected to.  Since Yoga has its formation in eastern mysticism and Hinduism, there is an acknowledged connection with religious and spiritual beliefs and again, this is what the parents are objecting to and threaten with litigation.  “Some” parents claim the program is unconstitutional by using taxpayer funds to promote Ashtanga yoga and Hinduism.  A non-profit foundation named Jois Foundation funded the project with $500K plus and this foundation is also alleged to have a religious mission which seeks the protection and promotion of religious freedom, the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, parental rights and other civil liberties.  2 families have pulled their children from the program and 2 is not significant.  I would not want to be the Superintendant of this school.  Dicey issues at best and we have discussed over the years the separation of church and state especially when public funds are being used – see recent discussion of Jesus Cheerleaders.   Seems if the classes are toned down with any religious rhetoric, the program will survive.

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