Thesis: The question of whether yoga is religious or secular when placed into a public school setting is a highly discussed topic with two different views. I. Yoga comes from one of the six schools of Hindu Philosophy in India a. Yoga is methods, postures, breathing and exercise practiced to control mind and body b. Description of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga which include abstinences, observances, postures, breath control, sense withdrawal, concentration, meditation, and contemplation II. Background of Yoga Education c. Tara Guber, developer of Yoga Ed first purposed idea in 2002 d.
Over 100 schools have overcome protests regarding the issue III. Parents and community members that are against Yoga in Encinitas School District e. Jennifer and Stephen Sedlock file a lawsuit in California saying public school is violating the constitution f. Attorney Dean Broyles for the lawsuit discusses the Separation of Church and State g. Our government allows public schools to recognize religion but not practice it IV. KP Jois Foundation h. Jois Yoga relation to Ashtanga Yoga i. Sri. K Pattabhi, founder of Jois Yoga j.
The amount of the grant received for the Yoga Education classes to be given in the Encinitas District V. Encinitas School District in favor of Yoga Ed k. Promoting Yoga Ed in order to make physical activity more interesting for the children l. Received a grant that allowed them to do so VI. Teachers and School officials that believe Yoga is strictly fitness related m. Jackie Bergerson allows observation in the classroom n. Superintendent Tim Baird promotes physical and mental well-being o. Provided an opt out clause for students who believe yoga is being taught for religious purposes VII.
Pittsburgh Public School also brought Yoga Education into the Physical Education program p. School constructed their curriculum around five components q. Five components include, body composition, flexibility, muscular, strength and cardiovascular endurance, which all directly relate to yoga ed VIII. Superintendent, Tim Baird supports yoga program by making statements that directly relate to the parents ideas of the purpose of these programs r. Yoga program broadens and promotes children’s physical and mental well-being s.
Provided an opt out clause that allows students to spend the time given for yoga doing something else Our nation has established twenty seven amendments in our constitution. As our nation changes overtime new additions and modifications may need to be made and the amendments allow us to do that. The first amendment is one of the most important and deals with the freedom of religion. The amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. ” This amendment raises issues when it comes to practicing yoga in public schooling.
The question of whether yoga is religious or secular when placed into a public school setting is a highly discussed topic with two different views. Yoga comes from one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy or schools of thought in India. Hindu Philosophy indicates that yoga includes breathing, exercises and a series of postures that can be practiced to achieve control of the mind and body. According to Annie Pace breathing, postures and a gazing point help to maintain the “senses and deep awareness” of an individual. These all help lead to discovering “fullest potential on all levels of human consciousness. (Pace) The type of yoga in which is being taught in elementary schools in Encinitas, California is Ashtanga Yoga. Ashtanga Yoga is a type of yoga that refers to eight limbs which include, abstinences (Yama), observances (Niyama), postures (Asana), breath control ((Pranayama), sense withdrawal (Pratyahara), concentration (Dharana), meditation (Dhyana) and contemplation (Samadhi). (Pace) Founder of Ashtanaga yoga, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois focuses on breath. Breath is an important component because “breath feeds action, and action feeds posture, each movement becomes gentle, precise and perfectly steady. (Pace) All eight limbs require a full development of each before proceeding to the next and in each step strength will develop and allow higher levels to be accomplished. The first four external limbs can be done by everyone, but the last four limbs will come overtime because they are internal. Yoga has been practiced for several hundreds of years in order to achieve a peace of mind through these methods. Yoga practitioners specifically focus on Hindu religion. Hinduism is a common religion in India and is practiced daily.
The controversial issue that is present is whether or not yoga is being placed into public schools for religious purposes or strictly for the physical and mental health aspects of children K-6. Reporter Rachael Konrad for the Los Angeles Times interviewed Tara Guber a woman who developed a program for public schools that incorporated yoga techniques into the curriculum. She proposed her program in 2002 to an elementary school in aspen Colorado, but was rejected. Around five years later “100 schools in 26 states have adopted Guber’s Yoga Ed” and have overcome protests in regards to promoting religion.
Schools specifically in the Encinitas School Districts have started incorporated these Yoga Education classes in order to promote a healthier lifestyle. In addition the parents in the Encinitas School District believe that school officials are using yoga as a gateway for bringing religion into the school system. One specific case that gives insight into the issue has brought upon a lawsuit in California. The parents of two children in the District filed a lawsuit against the school in regards to the Ashtanga Yoga classes that are in the curriculum.
It was reported by NBC Los Angeles News that parents Stephen and Jennifer Sedlock stated, “The school district is not complying with the California’s Constitutional right of Free of Religion. ” These parents believe that the school is violating the constitution. The lawsuit has opened the eyes of the community along with the parents of the children enrolled in the district. Dean Broyles the attorney for the case believes that the yoga classes are a violation of church and state. (Tilak) The separation of church and state refers to how religious beliefs either organized or private can’t be controlled by the government.
The citizens of the United States have the freedom to believe any religion they choose and to attend the church they wish. This allows people to express freedom of religion within some means. Our government says we can recognize religion in public schools but prohibit the idea of practicing it. The attorney for the case hopes to get rid of these classes and “restore traditional physical education” (NBC Los Angeles News, 3). The lawsuit filed is currently in the fore front and the outcome is yet to be determined. Charles C. Haynes states that the ourts will have to “determine if a school’s yoga program explicitly conveys religious teachings or messages. ” However, these fitness classes that incorporate yoga into the curriculum are funded by a nonprofit organization in memory of Krishna Pattabhi Jois, the founder of Ashtanga Yoga. The KP Jois foundation awarded a grant to the Encinitas district with an amount of $533,720 to support the yoga instructors in the area. (Carless, 2) This program is considered by the school officials and teachers to promote health and wellness in times of academic under performance.
According to the programs website, Jois Yoga is part of the Ashtanga philosophy which was developed by Sri. K Pattabhi, the founder. These yoga classes are incorporated in order to help children focus and create a positive lifestyle. Although they may say this, Dean Broyles has reported to the New York Times that there was a quote stated by the KP Jois foundation that contradicted the actual purpose. The quote stated that “There is a transparent promotion of Hindu religious beliefs and practices in the public schools through this Ashtanga yoga program. This quote means that the foundation may have thoughts of promoting and putting religion into public schools through means of giving grants to the Encinitas school district for Yoga. The Paul Ecke Central Elementary School in Encinitas, California has incorporated yoga classes into their curriculum as a different way to teach children about fitness. Teachers and school officials have provided necessary information regarding the issue that shows that these yoga classes are strictly fitness and can be helpful. According to Charles C.
Haynes “school officials insist that yoga classes are for physical fitness. ” By doing this it has drawn religious protests from several of the parents and community members. Jackie Bergeron allowed for observations in her first grade class where she started teaching her students how to do yoga. Will Carless, reporter for the New York Times reported while observing her class that the yoga had a calming effect on the children. Mary Eady, parent of a first grader in the elementary school disagrees. She stated that the “classes were rooted in the deeply religious practice of Ashtanga yoga. Many of the parents believe that the yoga instructors are teaching more than just poses, they’re teaching how to meditate and find peace without themselves. In addition to the Encinitas School District incorporating yoga into the physical education curriculum a Pittsburgh Public School has also done the same. The Pittsburgh Public School has done this because they construct their curriculum around five components, “body composition, flexibility, muscular, strength and cardiovascular endurance” and the school believes “yoga has a direct impact on all of them, says Jerri Lippert, the school districts academic officer. (Rujumba) Ashtanga Yoga have benefits that can directly affect one’s health and mentally and physically. Furthermore, public schooling does not support religious instruction but the parents feel as though school officials are trying to direct the children towards Hinduism. Tim Baird, the superintendent of the school has defended the yoga program because he believes it broadens and” promote the children’s physical and mental well-being. ” (Carless, 2) He believes that this program is helping the children in the elementary to become more focused and physically fit.
Exercise is an important key to leading a positive lifestyle and yoga can help reduce tension and energize the body. Tim Baird disagrees with the view the parents have on what purpose of Ashtanga Yoga is in the school. The idea that parents believe the teachers are teaching these young children Hinduism is incorrect, stated Baird. (New York Times, 1) The school officials have provided an opt-out clause. If the parents believe yoga is solely based upon a religion, or the faith of the parents is so strong that they choose not to have their children participate the thirty minutes can be used towards something else.
A comical statement made by Tim Baird when interviewed by Will Carless stated that “If your faith is such that you believe that simply doing the gorilla poses, you’re invoking the Hindu gods, and then by all means your child can be doing something else. ” Mr. Baird trusts strongly that these yoga poses, and exercises being done in class are strictly for promoting health and wellness. Mr. Baird states that the yoga instructors removed the “cultural connections, so we don’t use Sanskrit words. ” He also says that “what you have kids doing is stretching, moving and breathing.
That’s not religious. ”(NBC Los Angeles News) Even the White House has begun to encourage yoga as a healthy way to stay physically fit and has used it as a “program to make the U. S healthier. ” (Tilak, 1) The first amendment was established to protect the rights of the citizens of the United States. Religious Freedom is a right that is guaranteed to our country and is recognized every day. This amendment when placed into public schooling refers to the idea that any one faith is not above another. For many individuals Works Cited: Carless, Will. Yoga Class Draws a Religious Protest. ” New York Times. 15 Dec. 2013. Proquest, Web. 16 Apr. 2013. Ashtanga Yoga has drawn religious protests from two of the parents of children in the Encinitas School District. Parents believe yoga classes are a violation of the First Amendment. Tim Baird, a superintendent defends the program to promote children’s physical and mental-well being. This article shows ones who against Yoga Ed and those for Yoga Ed. Grieco, Sarah. Elena Gomez and Melissa Pamer. “Lawsuit Filed to End School Yoga Program, Claiming It Is a Religious Practice. NBC Los Angeles. NBC Los Angeles, 21 Feb. 2013. Web. 16 Apr. 2013. This newspaper article discusses the lawsuit filed to get rid of the Yoga Ed Program because it is said to be a religious practice. The superintendent and the attorney for the case discuss their different views on the issue. Haynes C. Charles. “Battling over yoga in public schools. ” First Amendment Center. First Amendment Center, 7 Mar. 2013. Web. 16 Apr. 2013. This article is where I first got the idea of writing on whether yoga is secular or religious.
It explains how the outcome of the lawsuit in Encinitas, California will affect all public schools around the nation who want to incorporate yoga into the curriculum. Karamagi, Rujumba. “City Stretches Phys Ed Curriculum Pittsburgh Public Schools using yoga to diversify students’ gym experience. ” Pittsburgh Post- Gazette. 19 Apr. 2010. Proquest, Web. 15 Apr. 2013. Pittsburgh Public Schools have also started incorporating yoga into the phys education curriculum. The Pittsburgh Public Schools build their phys education programs based upon five components.
The components of Ashtanga Yoga also meet the requirements of the five components of the school. Konrad, Rachael. “Yoga in public schools useful but controversial; Some Christians say the practice tempts youths to explore Hinduism. Supporters say it aids focus and makes exercise interesting. ” Los Angeles Times. 4 Mar. 2007. Proquest,Web. 4 Apr. 2013. Tara Guber describes her Yoga Ed program created to enhance physical fitness in public schools. This article also shows the two different sides to the issue.
Christians say yoga practices tempt children to explore Hinduism. The supporters say it focuses on making exercise easier and interesting. Pace G. Annie. “Ashtanga Yoga in the Tradition of Sri. K Pattabhi Jois. ” Ashtanga Yoga. Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois. Web. 23 Apr. 2013. Annie Grover Pace is a yoga instructor that worked for the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute under the founder Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. This article provided the information that explained the eight limbs and methods which is used for practicing Ashtanga Yoga.
This document is my primary source because Sri K Pattabhi Jois is the foundation that provided the grant for the Encinitas Disctrict. Tilak R. Visi. “The White House Gets Behind Yoga. ” India Real Time. India Real Time, 15 Apr. 2013. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. India Real Time is Newspaper written in India where Ashtanga Yoga was first founded. Reporter Visi R. Tilak discusses how The White House encourages Americans to practice yoga in order to make the U. S Healthier. The violation of Church and State is also discussed by Dean Broyles.