Yoga, most people would agree, can be incredibly beneficial. It has been shown to increase flexibility, lower blood pressure, assist in weight loss, increase energy and vitality, and even contribute to a more positive emotional outlook.
But some parents in Georgia are upset that yoga is being practiced in schools, saying that it directly violates their Christian beliefs.
School leaders at Bullard Elementary School had to hold a special meeting for concerned parents, assuring them that, as Bullard Principal Patrice Moore told them:
‘It’s a way to get children aware of their breath patterns, their tendencies and habits. Often times they’re focused outwardly, they’re not focused inwardly. It helps them if they’re very worried…and to use that energy to do something else.’
One of the outraged parents, Christopher Smith, operating under the mistaken impression that yoga is a form of religion, posted this on his Facebook page:
‘Now we can’t pray in our schools or practice Christianity but they are allowing this Far East mystical religion with crystals and chants to be practiced under the guise of stress release meditation. This is all without parents knowledge or approval. This is very scary. Parents beware of what your children are being taught without your knowledge.’
Yet another parent, Bekka Miller Fedusiv, maintained that a few “rogue teachers” had singled out students and taught them “how to pray” over crystals, even though there has been no evidence to support such an accusation.
Principal Crawford also told parents that a number of students have been helped by yoga-based activities in schools, which are in no way intended to endorse any faith. Yoga, she pointed out, can help calm students, who may be nervous about testing. It may also be helpful to children dealing with anger and bullying issues.
Yoga-based classes have become increasingly common in school systems across the country, but that hasn’t kept some Christians from claiming that the practice of yoga is actually a form of worship, which they both object to and argue is not fair since they believe their children cannot practice Christianity in school. They actually can, but prayer cannot be led by faculty or staff. Yoga is not prayer.
In some high schools, yoga-based activities are offered as elective courses. At lower grade levels, students often do yoga poses and breathing exercises while seated at their desks or in physical education classes.
Is yoga evil? The group that posted this video sure seems to think so: