Parents Pull Children Out of School’s Yoga Program For Fear of Religious Indoctrination
Americans’ deep fear of all things not Western has now resurrected in a Southern California school district. Some parents are now outraged that the Encinitas Union School District has launched a yoga program, calling it religious indoctrination.
"Yoga practices and poses are not merely exercise; they're religious practices," said Marsha Qualls, who, according to the Huffington Post, has a student at one of the district’s schools.
Andy Vick, a father of three daughters who attend the schools, has, along with other parents, removed his children from the yoga classes. Vick claimed that the school was forcing him to “segregate” his children because he didn’t want them “to be indoctrinated by this Hindu religious program.”
Not only are these remarks completely ignorant of the practices of yoga, but they are also just blaringly racist.
First of all, yes, the roots of yoga are based in Hinduism, but the exercise does not consist of prayer. And yoga has been proven to have mental and physical benefits as well as increase academic performance. That’s something you can’t say for the pledge of allegiance, which also has links to religion. But nobody is worried about a Christian, Western “democratic” ritual.
But God forbid (pun intended) another culture comes up with a better way to exercise and deal with stress than us Westerners. Although yoga has become more mainstream in the United States, some still associate it with hippie culture or “strange” Eastern practices. And this underlying fear that the practice just might work challenges Westerners belief in their superiority. The fear also continues to “other” those on the other side of the world while teaching children to do the same — continuing a cycle of racism and hatred.
Fortunately, the school district is standing their ground, although the trustees said they will look into the parents’ concerns. Tim Baird, the district superintendent, said the yoga classes are part of their goal to keep students more active.
Baird said, "Our goal is that kids get a really healthy workout, that they get a chance to relax and reduce stress and yoga's perfect for that."