A California legal group says a school district may be violating
the First Amendment in teaching children yoga related to Hinduism
and Eastern mysticism.
Parents of children attending Encinitas Union School District
say schools are teaching their children Eastern mysticism during
physical education. Parents are concerned that the school district
is using taxpayer funds to promote Ashtana yoga and Hinduism. The
parents expressed their concern during a school board meeting.
Dean Broyles is the president of the National Center for
Law and Policy. He describes how the schools have made the yoga
exercise the primary part of their P.E. program.
"Unfortunately, in San Diego
County, schools have replaced about 60 percent of their P.E.
program with Ashtana yoga," he says. "Ashtana yoga is a deeply
religious form of yoga that has its roots and formation in Eastern
mysticism, specifically Hinduism."
School officials say they have removed religious practices out
of the classroom, but Broyles tells OneNewsNow that the yoga
incorporates many religious elements.
"There have been meditations going on, to our understanding," he
explains. "They're also being taught to say Hindu sayings to each
other, like 'Namaste,' which means, loosely translated, 'The divine
in me,' or acknowledges 'the divine in you.'
"They've been drawing mandalas in art class, which is a Hindu
symbol; they've been doing a lot of the Hindu poses, which are
understood to be worship or prayer."
Parents say they fear their children will not get the physical
exercise they need if they opt their children out of the yoga