Saying there’s yoga news out of California is like saying there’s a ripe stench wafting from a sweaty Bikram studio, they just belong together. But this less than favorable story of parents looking to sue over free Ashtanga yoga classes at Encinitas elementary schools is a bit shocking.
Did you catch that? Encinitas. Encinitas of all places! The land of Paramahansa Yogananda where the seedling of yoga in the West was planted, where studios of varying styles flourish today and the site John Friend had chosen for his lost Anusaraland. Do you mean to say, there are people in Encinitas that do not like the idea of yoga? Tell us no!
And the parents are miffed for what you might have guessed:
“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.
Goodness gracious (again). The classes provided to the kids are funded by a $533,000, three-year grant from the Jois Foundation, the nonprofit arm of Pattabhi Jois’s Asthanga yoga, which, judging by the half million dollars, seems to be doing ok with its new direction. The twice weekly classes taught by school teachers that the foundation trained (how cool is that?) only started last month for some schools while others will start offering them in January.
Despite the fact that the district swore on their bibles that any and all religiousness (spirituality) has been removed and the focus is on breathing techniques and poses, the parents have declared the yoga program “unconstitutional” as stated in an Oct. 12 email from Broyles to district superintendent Tim Baird, who has probably retreated to his own version of kurmanasana in hopes it will all blow over.
But Baird says only a few parents have been moved by the spirits of paranoia to pull their kids so far and the classes will likely continue.
“Our goal is that kids get a really healthy workout, that they get a chance to relax and reduce stress and yoga’s perfect for that,” Baird said.
“Yoga is a worldwide exercise regime utilized by people of many different faiths,” he said. “Yoga is part of our mainstream culture.”
You needn’t have to convince us of that. You also don’t have to convince us yoga is helpful to kids for things like reducing stress, increasing focus and building self-esteem. Did you think that only worked for adults? Yoga on little ones.
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