Yoga In Schools: Asking the Wrong People

Yoga In Schools: Asking the Wrong People March 28, 2016

There’s been a rash of articles recently making fun of parents in a Georgia school district (for non-U.S. readers, that’s a state in the “Bible belt”) for being upset about yoga being taught at school. The parents apparently called it “anti-Christian propaganda.” The liberal circles in which I run immediately called them stupid and ignorant.

And while I do agree that yoga is not “anti-Christian” or “propaganda,” I have to wonder why no one in any of these articles has ever asked Hindus what they think about this.

Personally, and I know not all Hindus will agree with me on this, I think the parents have a point. We have a policy of not bringing faith and religion into our schools. Yoga is not “just exercise.” And the eye-rolling about the parents’ concerns tells me that yoga has really and truly been fully co-opted by non-Hindu Americans.

It’s strange to me that the very people who are usually so quick to point out cultural misappropriation don’t notice this blatant case right in front of their eyes.

Yoga is a part of a religion. It was created by Hindus and has a spiritual purpose. I think it is wrong to separate those things. I’m also not okay with the poses being used but calling it something else. Yoga poses were created to align body, mind, and soul. The discipline is meant to develop you spiritually.

So that’s my point of view on it. But again, the biggest problem I’m having is that no one is talking to Hindus about this. Non-Hindu Americans are speaking for yoga and that’s what’s scary to me.

https://unsplash.com/photos/w5SgojGZooI Pic by Patrick Hendry
https://unsplash.com/photos/w5SgojGZooI Pic by Patrick Hendry
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  • Amar

    right Ambaa, and when people say it’s “ani-Christian propaganda”, they actually heart our sentiment, and suspect our integrity, because there isn’t anything like “conversion”in Sanatan Dharm, we share our knowledge only for the betterment of society.

  • Robert Petkus

    The Yogini that I practice with, Lesley Fightmaster, says, “it’s your yoga.” What is religious to some is exercise or treatment for another. It is all about the intention. If the intent is to calm the kids and get them some exercise (in whatever form) there is no religious context.
    Growing up, we had wine with communion, served as the blood of Christ, yet having wine with dinner has zero religious context.
    While originating as part of a religion, I doubt the founders of yoga realized all the benefits both physical and mental that yoga offers as their focus was on the spiritual side (this is a general statement going back to my point about intention).
    Yoga loses its beauty, though, of being calming and grounding when we bicker over what yoga is, whose it is and how it should be practiced. It is your yoga. Do it as you like, as it works for you.
    My guess is that most Hindus practicing yoga within their religion could care less about the spandex clad Westerners, until Power Hatha is on their worship schedule.
    Namaste!

    • Kumar

      Western civilization makes such a big deal about giving credit to where it is due. But all this big deal disappears when it comes to appropriating eastern philosophies. Of course you can practice yoga in the way you want. All Hindus want to make sure that the credit is given where it is due. It is your yoga only for you, for the world it is a gift of Sanatan Dharma.

      • dr.viraj pradhan

        Kumar,please read my comment and you will realize we Hindus ( or Sanatanis) do not care for credit and distribute knowledge freely.That is our greatness.If it’s appropriated,distorted or exploited the responsibility rests only with that person or group of persons.I have no knowledge whether Yoga as and in its original form has ever been trademarked or patented and I don’t know if it should be either.Any thoughts on that?

        • Kumar

          Incorrect. If that were true then Patanjali would have never cared to right his book nor would have BKS Iyengar (or the 100s of other books that have been written by Hindu gurus). They would have simply passed on their knowledge to their disciples and then tried to attain moksha. Those who get knowledge through their hard-work know that they have a responsibility to maintain it. Only those who get knowledge without the hardwork, do not love it and they treat it as a ‘ghar ki murgi daal barabar’. True gurus never agreed with such an attitude.

  • HARRY

    I agree with the parents who said that it should be banned. It is religious concept and there is no two ways about it.

    • Robert Petkus

      Harry – have you ever done or do you practice yoga?
      My guess is both you and the parents pushing the ban have not, but would benefit from doing some.

      • HARRY

        What difference does it make on what I do . The point I was making was, What is the point of teaching religious concept when they don’t want their children to learn. And for your information it is a religious concept before you say it’s an exercise when you and I clearly know it isn’t.

        Yoga is spiritual tradition and every Hindu knows it. By you calling it exercise not only you have made the concept cheap but in reality you insulted the very concept and at the same time you insulted all the practising Hindu.

        • Robert Petkus

          By not practicing yoga, you don’t have no basis to tell anyone what it is. Yoga can absolutely bring you closer to God and Jesus, if that is your intent. Just like the ostrich with its head in the ground, you only see what the others are seeing. Get on a mat and practice some yoga, then lets talk.
          Yes, yoga is rooted in Hinduism, but that doesn’t mean that all people who practice yoga are Hindu, nor are they tarnishing the religion by practicing it for other reasons or benefits. None of the 10 commandments were broken in my yoga practice.
          In a world of narrow minded, obese people, more should get on the mat and learn what it is, what is isn’t and what I can be, before chiming in.

          • HARRY

            And you came to this assessment from? And no I don’t think it will ever bring me closer to either.

            And you know all this and other things because you do yoga. lol

          • HARRY

            BTW You need to read Kumars comment at the bottom before you proceed.

  • dr.viraj pradhan

    Yoga has nothing to do with any religion.It’s a spiritual practice and is also mentioned in Christianity as under:-
    John 3:14,Galatians 4.19,John 4:32,Job 28.10,Mark 4:39,Psalms 46:10,Mathew 6:22,,I.Corinthians 15:3,Exodus3:14

    If one reads Yogananda’s Second Coming Of Christ and God Talks With Arjuna.
    It’s just that very few people really know how to interpret scriptures.Hence,the belief that Yoga is Hindu.We all have souls and this is soul science.What is generally taught as Yoga is just the tip of an iceberg.

    • Samester

      wow.. now it is gonna be appropriated and packaged as Christian-Yoga.. already been done by missionaries in India

      • dr.viraj pradhan

        All that needs to be done is to understand and acknowledge that there is only one truth and it emerges every now and then and in every part of the world as also the means to reach the same.The point here is that no religion is superior and conversions are a big joke apart from being political in nature.Hindus never convert because of this profound understanding.

        • OmLove

          Sadly, Hindu’s convert to Christianity all the time. I know missionaries who go to India seeking to convert people and I have met Hindu’s here in the States who have converted to Christianity.

          • Growl

            Thanks,OmLoveSomehow we don’t convert others to our religion and people don’t find anything appealing about our religion.No Hindu knows the meaning of idol worshipping or Hinduism and so can’t impress people.Very sad.In the U.S ,I think people convert to be part of the mainstream,thinking that would improve their life and no one will harass them.What’s your opinion and experience?Missionaries come to India because they can’t get back Christians who convert to Islam and many Christians in the U.K. and U.S.A are atheists.

          • OmLove

            Oh but that is not true at all. I have seen many people convert to Hinduism and Buddhism. Im so confused by your statement. I guess our experiences are just different. We have seen and experienced things differently. xo

          • Growl

            Thanks.OmLove for your reply.

            Where have you seen them? Buddhism is known to draw many but somehow ( I feel and I could be wrong,hence the query) Hinduism with it’s myriad symbols( which are interpreted as these many Gods. by some). I read elsewhere that 33 million Gods are not Gods at all.The number 33 stands for our 33 vertebrae in the spine.Million only denotes many potentialities.This symbolism needs to be understood.Bihar School Of Yoga books with the main Yogi ( no more now) have probably given this or somewhere else.

  • classyoga

    Please go to the coast news. com and search for the article “New Age Yoga; Old Age theft and surrender.” Fact: Real Yoga is all about the Hindu religion. What we have is simply spurious yoga.