Parents stressed out over school yoga class

Parents considering legal action over school yoga

A group of parents is bent out of shape by free yoga classes at schools in this San Diego County beachside community, fearing they are indoctrinating youngsters in eastern religion.

“There’s a deep concern that the Encinitas Union School District is using taxpayer resources to promote Ashtanga yoga and Hinduism, a religion system of beliefs and practices,” the parents’ attorney, Dean Broyles, told the North County Times.

The lessons are funded by a $533,000, three-year grant from the Jois Foundation, a nonprofit group that promotes Asthanga yoga. Some schools began classes last month and others will begin holding them in January.

The classes involve traditional eastern breathing techniques and poses. The district chooses teachers and sets the curriculum while the foundation trains the teachers.

The district has removed any religious content from the twice-weekly classes, Baird said.

Jois Foundation Director Eugene Ruffin denied the group is religious and said the board of directors includes people from various faiths.

Is this part of the physical education or the “spiritual” education. I would guess this would be something  kids should do in their own time, not that I’m against stress relievers but this is a bit weird.

And, darn if it doesn’t reinforce that hippy, New Age, California stereotype.

  14 comments for “Parents stressed out over school yoga class

  1. Kate
    October 23, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    This one makes me laugh because lots of parents are concerned about that we’re doing something religious when we bow in and out of martial arts class, or when we meditate at the end. Not once in 5 years has either of those things been explained to me in religious or spiritual terms. We bow to show respect to the instructor and each other. We meditate at the end of class when the instructor thinks we need to. As a student I don’t usually know why we’re meditating, but I’ve been the one who needed a minute enough to know the value of it.

    So when I read this story I wonder where the truth lies…. how weird is Astanga Yoga vs. how paranoid are the parents.

  2. October 23, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    Let’s be honest. What is the chance that this isn’t a bunch of evangelical Christians? You know, the folks who want their creation and flood myth taught in schools.

  3. October 23, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    Oh look, what’s not in the Yahoo story

    “Broyles is president and chief counsel for The National Center for Law & Policy, a nonprofit law firm that focuses on “the protection and promotion of religious freedom, the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, parental rights and other civil liberties,” according to its website.”


    As suspected. He was mentored as a student of Jay Sekulow, Pat Robertson’s favorite lawyer and at least back in the day, near daily guest on the 700 Club.

    This is part of a larger dislike of yoga by right-wing Christians, who see it as promoting devil worship. See this for comparison of kundalini with the serpent in the Garden of Eden

  4. October 23, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    Very interesting. Thanks for digging into this. THAT’S the kind of comment I love.

  5. One Eyed Jack
    October 23, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    Yoga is the devil.

    I’m amazed that a foundation exists for the purpose of promoting yoga. We have schools that can’t afford books and here is a foundation tossing around half a mil to teach people to stretch and meditate. Wow.

    Yes, it really does feed into that New Age, out-of-touch-with-reality, California stereotype.

  6. Chris
    October 23, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    Oh, wow. That reminds of the videotape my brother and his evangelical wife sent us about twenty five years ago. It warned us about the dangers of yoga and playing Dungeons and Dragons. Then my brother suggested I read a book by Frank Peretti, which also showed how yoga summoned the demons:

    It is all very silly.

  7. Moose McNuggets
    October 23, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    My wife has practiced yoga for over two decades and remains devoutly secular. She sure is limber, though.

  8. Moose McNuggets
    October 23, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    I should add that I practiced Tai Chi for many years as well, and never got told to become a Taoist. What did finally put me off the organization was teachers telling me I could “reverse the aging process.” What a bunch of moose nuggets. What you can do is exercise (no pun intended) control over your health as you age. There’s plenty of evidence for that. Eat well, stay mentally and physically active, control your vices, etc. There’s always the curve balls nature can throw at you, but you can still do plenty to keep yourself in good shape right into old age. But reverse the aging process? Someone in my Tai Chi organization had spent far too much time listening to Deeppockets Cheatya.

  9. October 23, 2012 at 4:23 PM

    I like yoga too but I’m beginning to see it has broad varieties.

  10. Am_Sci
    October 23, 2012 at 11:55 PM

    Don’t set up the false dichotomy of yoga vs. books. I have no idea whether yoga, specifically, offers any benefits to students; but, lots of extracurricular activities really do. If an organization donated money for the baseball team, chess club, or model U.N.; would you be criticizing them, too?

  11. eximius apparata
    October 24, 2012 at 3:22 AM

    i actually this is a great idea. as i see it, getting kids used to using their bodies more (even if-or ESPECIALLY indoors) is a win no matter what. having taught some particularly hyperactive kids myself, i think a break in the middle of the day where young people can “safely” (as in, without ridicule) calm down, and perhaps even reflect on their day or something would be helpful.

  12. Brian
    October 24, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    Yoga is evil, say christians who lie, cheat, steal, and treat anyone not in their exclusive little club like trash- and then go on to tell people they will go for eternal torture in a place that was invented some time back to keep the followers in line.

    Wow- news to me! 😛

  13. G
    October 24, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    When schools are cutting PE out of their curriculum because they have to cut *something*and they’re afraid to cut academics…

    It sounds to me like a private foundation funding teachers for ANY kind of exercise is a good thing. Kids need to do more at school than sit at desks, both for their physical and mental health. So the private foundation has its own monetary sources and it’d rather pay for yoga than anything else; so what? That’s what it does. They’re paying for kids to take PE. Let them.

  14. Mr. B
    October 24, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    I’ve met many yoga teachers who are full of light and love and
    non judgement and who only want to serve others and to
    help others to find peace in the body and mind. Yoga can do that.
    It removes stress. It is a HEALTH practice. Not a religion.

    Many Fundamentalist Christians, it seems to me are
    living in fear and feel threatened by something
    that might be more useful and helpful to finding peace.

    Belief systems are violent as people feel compelled to
    defend them. Hence all the religious wars.

    Totally ignorant to say yoga is evil.
    There is NO evidence for that.

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