THE YOGA AS A RELIGION CONSPIRACY IN GRADE SCHOOLS

This post is in regards to the latest “yoga controversy” in the news. Have you heard about the parents who are suing a California school for offering yoga classes, because yoga is “religious” and the “doctor” they have backing them up stating that “yoga is a “conspiracy” and should be removed from school curriculums because she agrees, it is a “religion” and “unhealthy?”

Have you not read the article…here is the link:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/05/22/california-judge-weighs-whether-yoga-is-considered-religion/?test=latestnews

Now for my opinion.

First of all, I am so happy yoga classes are slowly making their way into school curriculums across the nation. Awesome.

Then this nonsense.

If you haven’t heard “doc” (side note: this is referring to the so-called Dr. Candy who is testifying in this case that yoga is a religion) yoga is way of uniting our body, mind and soul. It alleviates stress, increases energy, aids in concentration, builds strength and the development of the body. For decades, people have been practicing yoga and enjoying its benefits. So…do kids require yoga? Rhetorical.

Kids are the most important part of our society. Healthy kids will grow up to become healthy adults. Keep reading.

My friend Shereen Bernaz ( kids yoga teacher) captured this pic of 75+ kids in down dog. They all seemed to enjoy it!!!
My friend Shereen Bernaz, RYT & kids yoga teacher) captured this pic of 75+ kids in down dog at school. They all seemed to enjoy it!!!

Let us not forget the stress that surrounds kids today. The competitive environment, academic pressure and the stress to perform hampers the personality of the kids. It is very common to see kids facing loss of confidence (“Will I get picked last for the kickball game?, “If I don’t get a A in math, my parents are going to ground me,”) sleepless nights, bad health (obesity, diabetes) less concentration (ADD/ADHD) and poor memory. In addition, most kids from the age 5+ even have smartphones. Many kids text message constantly, Instagram, play video games. They develop have tunnel vision due to this technology. A lot of kids confine themselves to their rooms. You don’t need to go outside to use Facebook do you? There is less activity, and this leads to monotony and downfall of personality. In addition, urban areas, such as Newark, NJ, have developed programs to help inner city children find what they have deemed their bright- light, helping them feel good about doing well in school. These urban children on the other hand are not worried as much about being picked for the “kickball team” per say, but their worry instead is from the sounds of gunshots from neighboring gangs during the night, and whether they will go to bed or sent to school hungry the next morning.

Shereen Bernaz, RYT and kid’s yoga instructor in New Jersey and mother of 3 children, has shared with me her thoughts on this topic. Shereen stated, that “Personally, I think it is ridiculous that they want to remove yoga from the public schools.” ” Yoga is a mind-body connection and not a religion.” She continued to share her observations as a kid’s yoga teacher. “I think children learn how to calm down and relax with yoga.  I think it is amazing that their favorite part in all my classes is shavasana, it just shows me how tired kids are from running around from school to activities and how they need the time to just relax.  It also keeps them flexible and just aware of their body.”

I also contacted my dear college friend Christine Doyle M.S.Ed., who has been teaching in downtown Philadelphia schools for the past 8 years. When I asked her about yoga programming, she stated, “We don’t offer yoga to students, but I think it would be good to teach them certain breathing exercises or simple movements to calm themselves.” “Anything like this could be incorporated into daily classroom procedures…even if it is 5 minutes a few times a day, it would be great to teach at a young age.” Asked whether she considers yoga religious, she said, “No, I consider it calming and spiritual.”

One of the best solutions to all these problems is yoga. Yoga keeps the children fit, makes them flexible, keeps them active, builds self-esteem, makes them calm and peaceful, helps them to relax, teaches them to accept themselves, make them creative and much more.

Seeing the enormous benefits of yoga, many schools have already introduced yoga classes for very young children. During the class, kids enjoy each other’s company, learn to be non-competitive, hear soothing music, drive off their fears and stress, learn about the origin and history of yoga, learn to respect each other and the surrounding and most of all realize that yoga is actually a fun-filled activity. As these kids grow old, they become more responsible, patient and stress-free. Yoga actually becomes a part of their life.

During the yoga sessions for children, more than concentrating on the perfect posture, one should concentrate on their inner development. Children are flexible and they quickly learn to do different poses of yoga, however, they might not do it very properly. They don’t need to be perfect, obviously, but alignment is key. We don’t want them to feel uncomfortable. The basic idea should be to make everything “happy and joyful” as my teacher April Martucci, RYT, LMT does. Teach kids yoga in the form of interesting songs, stories, laughter, games and animal poses. Yoga poses mainly imitate the nature like animals. Kids love animals, heck, who doesn’t like animals!

If parents understand yoga, schools will understand yoga. There will be a need. A demand. An understanding. It will spread. Parents will see a difference. Kids will feel one. “I asked Molly, my 11-year-old neighbor, she said, she felt a “new energy,” after I taught her on my front porch this rainy afternoon.Love it!

molly lesson 2
Yogini Molly practicing Dancer pose after school with me.

And hey, “doc”, besides your issue with yoga being religious, which it is not; think about this benefit…not all children participate in extracurricular activities outside of school, i.e, soccer, camps, cheerleading, music, etc., for whatever reasons (money, lack of interest by child, lack of interest by parent); so, is it not better to incorporate more programs such as yoga into the school day? The more programming for kids the better! Besides exercise, children are developing self-awareness, mindfulness, and breathing techniques.

Also, how good do you feel after a yoga class? Most of the time, pretty darn good. Had a bad day at work? Nervous about a meeting the next day?, Had a fight with your husband and are feeling anxious? As mentioned above, yoga can help you understand your emotions, accept them, and shake off negative energy. “Doc”, have you ever taken a yoga class? My neighbor Faith did, see below…does she not look happy? Does she care if it has traces of religious roots, which you are so clear it does? No, she said “It makes her feel good.”

Happy as a clam pulling her bow. Faith practicing Bow pulling pose!
Happy as a clam pulling her bow. Faith practicing Bow pulling pose!

Why not give this gift to our children? The meaning of yoga is to join, and unite. With all the problems in the schools these days with bullying, discipline, and worst of all crime; why not try to encourage our children to unite and appreciate one another and learn a couple meaningful life lessons that are often shared in yoga classes, such as the importance of gratitude and compassion.

You are right “doc” that yoga traces back to ancient hinduism, but it is pretty darn sad that this is being covered in the news. So let’s compromise. Keep yoga in Encinto, CA. schools and instead of the teacher saying “bring your hands in prayer position,” they will simply say”bring your hands to your heart,” Neutral, non-religious. Right? Let’s end this nonsense.

Comments please.

Namaste, or shall I just say “Peace”…is that less religious?

Andrea

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