Over the last few years, yoga has become increasingly popular across the United States. The top three reasons people do yoga involve the overall enjoyment of yoga itself, as well as the health and stress relief benefits.
“Yoga is really effective because it’s so tangible,” said Jessica Mei Gershen, a certified yoga instructor and founder of Yoga For All Needs. “Learning physical postures builds confidence and strength as well as the mind-body connection.
Since yoga is seemingly so full of positive advantages, schools are beginning to implement brief yoga sessions throughout the day.
Though a few minutes of yoga in schools sounds harmless to most parents, there are some parents who are wholeheartedly against it for religious purposes.
According to USA Today, an effort by a Maryland elementary school to incorporate daily yoga-based programs has lead to an outcry by some religious parents.
Buckingham Elementary School in Berlin, Maryland, announced last month that they will begin daily “Mindfulness Moments” to help calm students both physically and mentally. According to the school’s Facebook page, each morning, students will participate in a mini mindfulness and yoga session (between six and 10 minutes), to help start off their day in a positive way.
Maryland parents with strong religious ties, however, are not as accepting this new program.
“THIS IS COMPLETE LAST DAYS DECEPTION!,” wrote Linda Hostelley on the school’s Facebook page. “There is nothing wrong with stretching, or being still to focus on your day, but yoga takes it another step further. There are spirits invited in by focusing on things not of God… there is an unholy Spirit behind it. If this is allowed in school, than Jesus must be allowed to be enjoyed in school also.”
Carrie N. Sterrs, coordinator of special programs and public relations for Worcester County Public Schools announced that the district is in communication with parents who have concerns. Some people still associate yoga with evil spirits or the worshiping of false gods, but yoga is supposed to help people learn how to achieve mindfulness.
“I’ve never heard any mention of God, or gods, or anything like that in yoga,” said Monika Lupean, owner of Salisbury Yoga and Wellness Center. “Never been in a class where any God was mentioned.”