Yoga is still causing problems in school. Actually, we’ll restate that. Yoga is still causing problems for some conservative Christian parents worried that the meditation and “namaste”ing is soiling their children’s beliefs. An elementary school in Georgia is currently putting out religious-related fires between concerned parents, their children and the school’s mindfulness program.
Bullard Elementary in Kennesaw, GA, about an hour outside of Atlanta, is nothing special (no offense) in that they’re offering mindfulness and yoga to their students. Plenty of other schools across the country have adopted such curriculums to improve their student body’s focus, manage stress, and, in some cases improve fitness and well-being. These all sound like great things, but Bullard Elementary is also not alone in getting some push-back from parents worried there’s some sort of “scary” evil-doing going on without their knowledge.
To squash any fears, Bullard administrators recently held a meeting to address the “many misconceptions” that “created a distraction in our school and community,” principal Patrice Moore wrote in an email to parents, according to The Atlanta-Journal Constitution.
“While we have been practicing de-stressing techniques in many classrooms for years, there have been some recent practices associated with mindfulness that are offensive to some,” the email states.
It seems to have all come to a head when parent Christopher Smith wrote on Facebook, “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,” Raw Story reported.
Oh, boy. The principal was forced to dignify this with a response in her email stating that although teachers “never used nor taught about crystals having healing powers during these breaks, we understand it has become a belief. Therefore we will ensure that nothing resembling this will be done in the future.”
While we agree parents ought to know what their children are being taught in schools, as parents, we’d likely be more concerned about our kids learning the facts about U.S. history, climate change and evolution than whether or not they’re meditating on crystals.
Overall, though, the school probably handled it the best way they could. Conversation and discussion are a good way to quell fears, include everyone, and avoid trial. Some of us will remember the now famous California court case in which conservative Christian parents fought against the school district’s optional yoga and meditation program. The judge eventually ruled that the program did not violate religious freedoms and that it was being provided for wellness purposes. Yoga has been so Westernized that it’s hard to believe people are still scared their kids are absorbing some kind of Satan-stirring, demon-summoning evil rituals.
In the case of Bullard Elementary, we’re optimistic these folks can come to a compromise.
Might we suggest they get their hands on a copy of the Yoga Service Council’s Best Practices For Yoga In Schools?
- Bringing Best Practices To Yoga In Schools — An Interview With Jennifer Cohen Harper and Traci Childress (Part 1)
- Kindergarteners Teach Us A Thing Or Two About Mindfulness In ‘Just Breathe’ Short Film
- In-School Yoga Classes Do Not Violate Students’ Religious Freedom, Appeals Court Rules