Irate parents in Kennesaw, Georgia, complained to a local elementary school that their yoga practices were forcing Hindu beliefs on the students.
Bullard Elementary School has been using yoga in their school to help get their students focused and to de-stress throughout the day. Parents became aware of the practice and complained that the word “Namaste” and putting one’s hand over their heart endorses non-Christian beliefs and forces their children to accept and believe Hindu customs.
“No prayer in school. Some don’t even say the pledge, yet they’re pushing ideology on our students,” Susan Jaramillo, one of the mothers offended by the yoga practices, told USA Today. “Some of those things are religious practices that we don’t want our children doing in our school.”
As a result of the complaints, school officials gathered parents and other school personnel to meet about the yoga issue. Following that meeting, the Bullard Elementary School principal, Patrice Moore, sent a letter to the parents of children attending his school.
NBC affiliate 11 Alive published the letter from the school principal.
In the letter, the principal agrees that the word “Namaste” and the act of putting one’s hand over their heart would no long be a part of the yoga practices in his school.
He also mentioned that, although teachers had never actually taught anything about healing crystals, he would make sure that was never a part of the school curriculum in the future. Finally, the principal states that during “brain breaks” at the school, when the children color, the teachers would make sure that none of the pages used would involve a Mandala design.
“Good evening Bullard Families,
I’d like to thank those of you who attended ‘Coffee and Conversations’ yesterday. I am truly sorry that the mindfulness/de-stressing practices here at Bullard caused many misconceptions that in turn created a distraction in our school and community. While we have been practicing de-stressing techniques in many classrooms for years, there have been some recent practices associated with mindfulness that are offensive to some.
As a result, we will pull the following out of our school: When yoga moves are used in classrooms, students will not say the word ‘Namaste’ nor put their hands to heart center. When coloring during ‘brain breaks,’ Mandala coloring pages will not be used. Although teachers have never used nor taught about crystals having healing powers during these breaks, we understand it has become a belief. Therefore we will ensure that nothing resembling this will be done in the future.
As we move forward and begin the healing process with the staff, we’d like to form a committee of parents to work with us as we explore research-based techniques and ideas for the classroom. The purpose of this committee is to get community input on a variety of topics, including mindfulness, curriculum practices and ways to increase our CCRPI score. If you are interested in sitting on this committee, please send an email to me by Wednesday as I’d like to hold the first meeting prior to spring break.
Have a great weekend!
The letter did not state that the school had any intention of ending the yoga program.
A yoga expert, Cheryl Crawford, was consulted by the Atlantic Journal-Constitution about why yoga was so important in a school setting.
“[Yoga] is a way to get children aware of their breath patterns, their tendencies and habits,” Crawford said. “Often times they’re focused outwardly, they’re not focused inwardly. [Yoga] helps them if they’re very worried…and too use that energy to do something else.”
[ Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images ]