On the contrary, the school received numerous complaints from parents who were concerned about just what kind of mindset yoga was imposing on their children.
Whereas you might associate yoga with being a trendy, healthy way to exercise the body and mind, some parents felt that it was forcing non-Christian beliefs upon their children.
Parents were especially upset with students saying the word “namaste” in and out of the classroom, a common Sanskrit greeting that means “the light in me sees the light in you,” according to yoga teacher Cheryl Crawford.
The school quickly apologized to the parents and pledged to eliminate parts of the mindfulness program. Saying “namaste” and centering the hands in front of the heart were the first to go.
One parent said, “Some [schools] don’t even say the pledge of allegiance, yet they’re pushing ideology on our students. Some of those things are religious practices that we don’t want our children doing in our schools.”
Another said, “Now we can’t pray in 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 very scary.”
What’s scarier? Students practicing aspects of different cultures in class, or the parents who seriously think yoga is dangerous?
Aside from the fact that yoga, which does originate in Ancient India, has become sensationally appropriated by mainstream American culture since the ’80s, it’s really awful that these parents think a healthy lifestyle habit could undermine their Christian beliefs and harm their children.
It’s one thing if the teachers went into details about the disputed Buddhist and Hindu origins of yoga, or if they tried indoctrinating students with beliefs pertaining to the religion, but simply trying culturally exotic mindfulness techniques should not be something parents are afraid of. After all, what’s in a word? Namaste isn’t hurting anyone.
Sounds like these parents could use some yoga themselves. Ommmmmm.