Meanwhile in Zurich, Switzerland: The high court has ruled that parents of a kindergartener overreacted when they claimed their son’s school yoga class was interfering with their Christian beliefs. See? The Swiss, which we might have assumed would remain rather balanced on the issue, are just like us and go to court over yoga in school!
Once again it was an issue of church and state and paranoia, a topic that gets ever more confusing and blurred. The parents said the school should not be allowed to provide yoga classes because they did not want their son to partake in a “Buddhist activity.” But the judge did not agree and maintained that “everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” Kidding, that was famous Swiss psychotherapist Carl Jung, and author of the little known book, The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga.
Things could have been different though.
Had the teacher burned incense and provided religious chants or music, the situation might be different, the court ruling says, but teaching children to relax, to warm up and to take part in rhythmic movements has no religious connotation.
While to some of us yoga for kids makes perfect sense, we can empathize with the concerned parents. Teaching kids to think, relax and manage their emotions for themselves is a scary thing. Almost supernatural. Steve Benen at The Maddow Blog may have captured the situation best when he commented on the similar battle going on in Encinitas, CA where parents of the religious right are declaring that a free and optional school yoga program is unconstitutional and are suing the school district.
These folks can believe the separation of church and state is a communistic principle intended to undermine religiosity or they can believe the separation of church and state is a bedrock legal principle that guarantees and protects religious liberty for all. They cannot believe both.
Recently a panel of kids yoga experts got together to discuss the Religion/Yoga/School issue – you can listen to the full discussion over on Yoga In My School.
This sensitive topic requires invitation and understanding. Teaching yoga in schools assists children with their learning, self mastery, stress reduction and so much more. It’s great to see the Swiss Judge understanding the benefits.
PS. Love the Yoga Cows!
Thanks for referencing Jung’s book on yoga. Besides his idea that ‘no Westerner can properly practice yoga,’ it’s a pretty great read.
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