Health Controversy: California Parents Want to Ban Yoga in Schools

by Sarah Jio, Glamour

Downward dogs, oms, deep breathing may seem like a healthy move to you and to me, but to a group of parents in Encinitas, California, well, not so much. Let's discuss the surprising controversy...

As the Los Angeles Times reports, some parents of children in Encinitas, California, aren't happy about a local yoga studio's $533,000 grant to teach yoga in nearby public schools (the grant would also teach nutrition, healthy living principles and even gardening). The sticking point? The opposing parents say that adding "the ancient practice of meditative exercise to the school curriculum is tantamount to religious indoctrination into Hinduism."

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While school officials have promised that there is no religious angle to the program, cited yoga's many (many!) health benefits, and agreed that parents can pull their children out of yoga classes if they'd like, that wasn't enough for a group of outraged parents who hired attorney Dean Broyles to reportedly attempt to remove yoga from the school district entirely.

"I think school officials are confused about Eastern mysticism," said Broyles. "If this were a program letting children sit silently and engage in Christian prayer, the district would never allow it."

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Most people associated with the controversy are scratching their heads. "It's hard to know how to respond to someone who says if you touch your toes, you're inviting the devil into your soul," said Eugene Ruffin, chief executive of Jois Yoga Corp, which made the grant possible.

What do you think of this controversy?

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