Parents in a California community are considering legal action over the constitutionality of a form of yoga being taught to their children, which they claim is introducing religion into public schools.
Last month, students attending classes in San Diego North County began taking Ashtanga (Sanskrit for "eight-limbed") yoga for 30 minutes twice per week.
Concerned parents have now retained a constitutional first amendment attorney who says that Ashtanga yoga is a religious form of yoga, and that religious aspects have been introduced into the schools.
"The poses and positions are acknowledged by Ashtanga and Hindi yoga as forms of worship and prayers to Hindu deities," "They have a spiritual and religious meaning behind them."
Broyles said that although he was at first skeptical that there were truly religious belief and practices being taught to kids, the more he investigated and spoke with parents, the more he realized it was a constitutional issue….
The yoga…is being funded by a grant from a nonprofit that promotes Ashtanga yoga across the world.
All of the instructors teaching the students are certified and trained by the Jois Foundation in Ashtanga yoga.
The district's program will be studied by the University of Virginia and University of San Diego to look at benefits of Ashtanga yoga...
"The study will look at the way that public school systems can impact student learning, health, positive relationships, and overall wellness through the implementation of a holistic approach to student wellness," Baird said in the letter. He says that parents are now not only questioning Hindu religion entering their schools, but the validity if this study being undertaken.
"We think that children are being used as guinea pigs," he said. "Following the money, you see what's going on … It would be like a charismatic Christian organization funding classes in worship and praise, and also funding a research center at a public university that is studying whether this is an effective form of exercise."
Broyles says that it has been argued that the in-school yoga programs have been stripped of their spirituality. But he says that kids are being exposed to Hindu thought and belief within the school.
"On the wall there was a poster that showed the Ashtanga, or 8-limbed deity. There are words showing what the limbs are," he said. "The ultimate goal is to be absorbed into the universe, which is called (deity name removed). They had a poster depicting that. Fundamentally it is a Hindu religion being taught through Ashtanga yoga."
Children are also being taught eastern meditation techniques to calm themselves, where one clears the mind of all thoughts, poses that were imparted by Hindu deities, and in one class were trained in drawing mandalas, according to Broyles.
…."If we were introducing Christian worship of bowing, there would be outcry in the community," he said…