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Parents Don’t Want Yoga Taught in Schools

By Susan Brinkmann Staff Writer A high school in upstate New York has agreed to delay the implementation of yoga classes after a group of parents and religious leaders complained the program indoctrinates children in Hindu rites and is a violation of the separation of church and state. “I never thought this would be such a controversy,” said Julie Reagan, president of the Massena Board of Education to the Oneida Dispatch. “If the school board felt there was any hidden religious activity behind the motives of our two instructors, we certainly wouldn’t allow that. There is absolutely none of that. The teachers are well intended and trying to offer an aspect of fitness in the classroom that relaxes and readies the children for better learning,” she said. The two teachers, special education teacher Martha Duchscherer and a Spanish teacher, Kerry Perretta, began using yoga in their classrooms last year to relieve stress before exams. They were in the process of developing a program for the whole school district when parents and local church leaders spoke up. "We are not opposed to the benefits,” said Rev. Colin Lucid of Calvary Baptist Church in Massena. “We can understand the benefits. We are opposed to the philosophy behind it and that has its ties in Hinduism and the way they were presenting it." While many yoga instructors in the U.S. say the discipline is not a religion but a mere exercise program, the fact remains that yoga is one of six branches of classical Hindu philosophy with the ultimate goal of yoking the practitioner to a Hindu god. In fact, most practitioners are completely unaware that common yoga positions were designed as positions of worship to Hindu gods, such as the "salute to the sun" posture, which shows worship to the Hindu sun god and the "cobra" position which is designed to worship the snake god. In addition, the word “namaste,” which is often said at the end of a yoga class, means “I bow to the god within you.” The “om” chant used in many classes is meant to bring students into a trance so they can join with the “universal mind.” Parents and religious leaders in Massena are not the only group to protest the inclusion of yoga in schools. In Aspen, Colo., parents were successful in demanding the removal of yoga from the local curriculum in 2002. In Alabama, religious leaders pushed for a 1993 law prohibiting the teaching of yoga in schools, citing connections between yoga and Hindu religious training. The Massena school board has decided to halt the program until the two teachers can demonstrate yoga's breathing and relaxation techniques at the next board meeting scheduled for  Oct. 14. © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly/Women of Grace. Yoga is not as innocent as it appears. Get the facts in “The New Age Counterfeit” by Johnnette Benkovic, available in our store at