Last week, the parents of two California grade-school students sued to block the teaching of yoga at a San Diego school district, saying that the stretching program promotes Eastern religions.
Dean Broyles, the lawyer who filed the suit, told Reuters that Ashtanga is a religious-based yoga "and if we are separating church and state, we can't pick and choose religious favorites."
The lawsuit also claims that those students who opt out of the program often face bullying. Based on those two reasons, the parents want to stop children from stretching, breathing properly and learning to manage their stress naturally.
This is happening when many of the country's children are obese and sedentary.
If you allow lawyers to determine what activities are religious, then everything is vulnerable to being redefined.
Martial arts could be said to promote Eastern religions as well -- but wouldn't you want your daughter to be able to defend herself should she ever be challenged? I was once bullied on my school's basketball court; they didn't stop teaching basketball because of it. Learning about yoga and meditation actually helped me to let go of experiences such as these.
There is good in every religion and those axioms of life should make their way into matters of state as well.
The separation of church and state is meant to balance power among institutions. There is no Vatican-like organization representing the interests of the yoga community.
Yoga is used to reach physical and mental well-being. Once that is accomplished, then practitioners are more able to contemplate on spiritual matters.
In my experience, those who pursue yoga as a way of life become more committed to their respective religions. I know yoga practitioners from every religion and walk of life.
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