Yoga Banned at Georgia Elementary School ; Parents Fear for Possible Religious Indoctrination

A Georgia elemantary school has officially banned the practice of yoga on its grounds amidst, as has been documented by Inquisitr, a recent groundswell of complaints from parents.

Administrators at Kennesaw, Georgia’s Bullard Elementary School have been forced to say good day to Namaste as a relaxation method in the classroom, MSN reported, following a number of documented reports of concerned moms and dads who feel that it represents the growing tide of non-Christian beliefs.

“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,” said Bullard principal Patrice Moore in an e-mail to parents in which she announced the change in Bullard’s policy toward yoga in the classroom.

“While we have been practicing de-stressing techniques in many classrooms for years,” she continued, “there have been some recent practices associated with mindfulness that are offensive to some.”

Yoga, which has its roots in Hinduism and Buddhism, has become an increasingly popular and more practiced form of meditation and excercise for U.S. culture in recent years, primarily due to what most of its practitioners call its calming effect on the mind.

In particular, yoga’s mindfulness, or its associated meditative state, is used with increasing frequency for its perceived usefulness in helping clear the human mind of distractions, de-stress, and, in general, help yoga-ites lead happier lives.

Diamond Dallas Page
Yoga has become increasingly popular in today's society, as evidenced by former profesional wrestler "Diamond" Dallas Page, whose brand of DDPYoga has become one of the more well-known schools. Page's brand focuses on physical and mental healing. [Image by Jason Kempin/Getty Images]

Bullard Elementary School specifically will eliminate both the phrase “Namaste,” a Sanskrit greeting in which followers place their hands “to heart center” and the use of Mandala, an Indian spiritual symbol that represents the cosmos.

Principal Moore also addressed rumors that certain teachers were telling students about mystic crystals that are reputed to have “healing powers,” noting that the school would “ensure that nothing like this will be done in the future.”

Parents’ concerns seem to mostly center around this mystic, spiritual yoga origins.

“They’re pushing ideology on our students. Some of those things are religious practices that we don’t want our children doing in our schools,” said Cobb County’s Susan Jaramillo, who has a child enrolled at Bullard Elementary, to NBC affiliate WXIA, also per MSN. “[There’s] no prayer in shools. Some don’t even say the pledge of allegiance.”

Yoga Religious Ties
Yoga's close relationship with Far East religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism has drawn criticism from Bullard Elementary School parents. [Image by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images]

Likewise, Bullard father Christopher Smith told the news outlet that the yoga concepts being taught are a form of “mindfulness indoctrination.”

“We can’t [even] pray in our schools or practice Christianity but they are allowing this Far East mystical religion with crystals and chants to be practiced under the guise of stress meditation,” he continued. “This is very scary.”

Many of those who practice yoga, however, see it as more of a harmless way to blow off some steam – a method for calming anxious students who are concerned with academics, bullying, anger, or any number of other issues that come up.

In other words, many of yoga’s followers actually view its practice as the opposite of endorsing any specific creed or faith.

“[Yoga is] a way to get children aware of their breath patterns, their tendancies, and their habits,” countered Cheryl Crawford, a local yoga instructor at several Atlanta-area schools, albeit not at Bullard. Crawford’s comments were delivered to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, also per MSN.

“Often times they’re focused outwardly, they’re not focused inwardly,” she added. “It helps them if they’re very worried … It’s a physical act, but you’re using your mind and your breath.”

Crawford and others of a similar mindset, therefore, see the act of performing yoga poses and stretches as the ultimate form of stress relief for the young children dealing with academic pressures.

In that respect, it may actually be the protesting parents of Bullard Elementary school students who are actually the ones wasting their breath.

[Image by Harry Benson/Getty Images]