Parents Threaten to Sue School for Teaching Kids Yoga

Eye Roll 56

yogaOK, parents, question time. Do you send your kid to school so they can learn? Have their minds broadened? Or would you be one of the parents threatening to sue your kid's school if they introduced a yoga program?

If you're the latter, get thee to California! You can get in on the ground floor and join the parents who are all aflutter because their little snowflakes are being subjected to a conditioning and strengthening workout they say is really a cover for indoctrination into Eastern religion. And get this: it's not even taxpayer funded!

The real crux of the problem seems to be that the Encinitas Union School District has accepted a $533,000 grant from the Jois Foundation, a nonprofit that specializes in spreading ashtanga yoga around the globe. The father and lawyer (because, of course) spearheading the protest insists that this is a violation of freedom of religion, and he will sue if they don't put a kibosh on all that Omming in the gymnasium.

Considering I've yet to meet a religious zealot who practices yoga to keep the belly fat at bay, I'm not surprised that the district insists that this program is totally devoid of religion. In fact, it's being taught by district staff. The only thing the Jois folks have done is put up the money and trained the staff to be yoga teachers.

Sounds good enough to me. Especially in light of the childhood obesity crisis they're always yammering on about. I'd like to see alternate forms of physical education, especially something like yoga that appeals to kids who aren't your prototypical jocks.

We need to give our kids options. And yoga is something kids can do anywhere, any time. It's something they can take with them and continue after they've graduated. Which I always thought was the point of physical education in schools to begin with: to create a life-long love of movement.

Learning, in fact, is why I wouldn't care if my kid DID learn that yoga was rooted in Eastern religions. I wouldn't want her being "indoctrinated" either, but I think it's fair to say that there is a difference between the two. Most of us send our kids to school to have their minds blown wide open, to have them find out more about the world, not just their backyard.

Where do you stand on this? Would you be joining the lawsuit or glad to see a school trying to expand kids' minds? 


Image via tomas sobek/Flickr

family, issues, school


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nonmember avatar quadognut

This is a bunch of crock. Yoga is great to have in the school systems as an alternate form of physical education. It's a form of meditation and maintaing balance physically, mentally and spiritually. "Many studies have tried to determine the effectiveness of yoga as a complementary intervention for cancer, schizophrenia, asthma and heart patients. In a national survey, long-term yoga practitioners in the United States reported musculo–skeletal and mental health improvements." (Birdee, Gurjeet S. et al. "Characteristics of Yoga Users: Results of a National Survey." Journal of General Internal Medicine. Oct 2008, Volume 23 Issue 10. p1653-1658)

Sheila Talbitzer

While I agree with the above comment, please do not use the word "retarded".  My children attend Montessori and know that language is hurtful.  The Montessori my kids attend are looking for a Yoga instructor for their after school program because it is fun and good for their body and spirit.  I attend a Yoga class weekly and feel fantastic afterward.  In fact, whenever I consider not going my husband insists since I am apparently "much nicer" the rest of the day.  It helps with stress, focus, empowerment, and strength.  While my instructors have discussed the origins of the poses never once have I questioned about my religious beliefs.

Sabri... SabrinaMBowen

Yoga, like Tai Chi and other spiritually motivated exercises, are often taght against in various religions. And therefore having a child participate in Yoga can, and does, violate their right to freedom of religion - as well as their parents right to religious freedom. Public schools have a DUTY to their children to create an environment where they can be safe and participate in class without ever violating their own faith or without making themselves a target because they can't participate. It is just as easy to alter the cariculum so that it does not involve spiritual activities (like Yoga) and include everyone - and it should be done!

Christine Harrelson

Kids are being indoctrinated all the time. Funny thing is, I've never been to a yoga class that tried to convert me or even mentioned religion.

nonmember avatar Elizabeth

This is definitely one of the dumbest lawsuits I've heard of. Unless the instructors are incorporating reading religious documents into yoga, it's not violating freedom of religion. Where's the proof that it's indoctrinating children into Eastern religion? This guy's a lawyer, he should know better. I'd be thrilled if my son's school introduced yoga. It provides core strengthening and is a form of exercise.

nonmember avatar Jill

Yoga is NOT religious. It is used in religion, but that is like saying that wine (or juice, depending on your church) and wafers are religious.

mello... mellowknees

@SabrinaMBowen -- Yoga is a form of exercise, just like aerobics, jogging, basketball or doing sit-ups.  It is not religious in the slightest.  If you've ever been to a yoga class, you would realize this.  Just because it focuses on mindfulness (i.e. paying attention to what you are doing) and breathing does not make it "religious".

Blues... Blueshark77

Yoga has always been a great form of exercise and stress relief for this atheist. Religion has never been brought up in any classes or videos I've followed. If stretching and deep breathing rock the foundation of your own personal beliefs then maybe your foundation isn't strong enough to begin with. 

Jessica Lewis

@SabrinaMBowen - Schools teach children TONS of things that go against their religion, no matter what it is. Cafeterias serve pork and often pair dairy with meat; should someone of the Muslim or Jewish persuasion SUE so that NO ONE can have these items? The thing I don't understand is WHY idiot parents have to ruin things for everyone, just so they can delay actually having to TALK to their precious little flower about the fact that not everyone believes what they do.

Gregory Wahl

My two kids (3 and 5) are taught yoga in school.  The only thing they seem to have been indoctrinated into is a cult of being able to balance on one foot for long periods of time.  Blasphemy!

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