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Concern Over Yoga in Schools Is Resolved

Simply eliminating Sanskrit terms and chanting practices from yoga classes can be enough to ease concerns that yoga could have religious overtones.

Some instructors wanting to teach yoga in public schools have faced
resistance from worried parents, reports the Associated Press. According to yoga instructor Tara Guber, Christian fundamentalists and secular parents lobbied the school board of an Aspen, Colorado, elementary school in 2002, after she offered to teach yoga to young students. Parents protested that yoga’s Hindu roots conflicted with Christian teachings and that practicing the discipline in school might violate the separation
of church and state.

According to Guber, she resolved the issue by creating a “Yoga Ed” program that eliminated chanting and used “kid-friendly” English. For example, “bunny breathing” described yogic breathing and “time in” described meditation. Guber’s curriculum is now taught in more than 100 schools in 26 states. Both studies and anecdotal reports show that yoga programs in schools benefit kids, leading to fewer behavioral problems, better grades and improved fitness.

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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