Schools spend plenty of time and energy enforcing eye-roll inducing dress codes and punishing ridiculously minor offenses. But the educators aren’t the only ones who get more than a little hyperbolic and out-of-control over really small problems. There’s something about educating children that makes every little thing feel like a hugely important issue for those in the classroom, and those around the dinner table. Still, that doesn’t excuse the idiocy of a group of San Diego parents that are threatening their local school system with legal action for providing free yoga classes to students.
Encinitas Union School District is providing its students with a series of lessons on Asthanga yoga. The cost of training the teachers for these lessons is being covered by a grant from the Jois Foundation, a non-for-profit that promotes yoga education. The classes are held twice a week and teach kids about meditation, breathing techniques and yoga poses. Considering the stress and pressure modern kids seem to be under, I think the idea of teaching them a healthy relaxation technique is really wonderful.
However, an attorney for a group of parents from the school district claim that by teaching yoga, the schools are automatically teaching and endorsing Hinduism to students. Never mind of course that millions of people around the world practice yoga without specifically following the Hindu religion. The school states that all religious aspects of the fitness routine have been taken out of the lessons provided to students.
Personally, I’m a Pilates girl myself. But I think that yoga provides a great set of tools for children who need help learning how to de-stress. It also introduces them to a new means of physical fitness. I would’ve killed for a yoga lesson as opposed to playing badminton or running around a track in my middle school gym class.
The biggest point that seems to be missed from this entire debate, however, is that school is meant to introduce children to different ideas and practices. We aren’t supposed to only teach children about their culture. We’re supposed to open their eyes to new and different ways to thinking. Even if the yoga classes were including information about the Hindu religion, I think it would be a valuable learning tool for students. Frankly, the idea that you have to keep your child ignorant of other people’s beliefs to ensure that they continue to follow your own is a little sad. There is a difference between promoting a religion at a public school and educating children about different religions.
However, that’s not even the case. The religion isn’t even included in these lessons. A school is teaching kids about yoga, a type of exercise that approximately 75% of the people I know have tried at least once or twice. This is not something that calls for legal action. If you’re that worried about it’s influence on your child, pull them out of that class. From the sounds of it, the school system allows for kids to sit the yoga lessons out. If you really can’t get over your anger at the children doing child’s pose, maybe it’s time to look for some relaxation techniques of your own.