Sunday, February 24, 2013

Parents Sue Over Religious Roots of Yoga

I wrote this letter in response to this lawsuit I just read about. These sort of lawsuits make me angry, but lately I've been much more proactive and have actually started speaking my mind directly to those who need to hear it the most.
It certainly feels good, and I hope my opinion makes a difference.

I'm a resident of San Diego county, and I wanted to comment on this lawsuit because I'm so ashamed that fellow Americans would be so closed-minded like this. In fact, I hope your client will read my words.

First of all, the children were not forced to participate, so this program is not restricting religious freedom in any way. In fact, since you are trying to get rid of it, YOU are restricting these children from exploring whatever religion they want to learn about or practice.

"The method of practice taught in Ashtanga Yoga relies on the linking of yoga postures through prescribed movements and incorporates deep, even breathing and steady gazing with the eyes." This isn't religious indoctrination, this is FITNESS and WELLNESS. Just like laughing yoga, or would laughing be banned also due to "religious roots"? This yoga practice being taught in the school is basically MEDITATION and physical activity, combined. Meditation is not spiritual or religious, it's a method to become centered and present. It's a mental process to shift focus. Meditation is also scientifically shown to improve memory, reduce blood pressure, increase density of gray matter in the brain, lengthen attention span, and strengthen activation levels in their temporal parietal junctures, a part of the brain tied to empathy. So there is fact that this yoga program WILL increase the overall health of children, and maybe even their ability to learn and function better in schools, while also NOT teaching them any religion. In fact, I would consider meditation and yoga to be HISTORICAL not religious, because it precedes some religions, and many religions have similar roots that used meditation and yoga.

I did yoga in public school and it was a very positive fitness experience, but it had NO effect on my religion whatsoever.

This is America. We are successful because we take the good we see in other places, and apply it here. The Jois Foundation is doing this, but your client is inventing a "danger" that is inherently PART of American culture and history - the introduction of new, and different kinds of people. In any case, most religion is about the same end, but differ in the means.


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