Yogic Religious Agendas? Bit Of A Stretch…


You really can’t get any more paranoid than this…

Evangelical Christian group helps sue California school over yoga classes

A group of California parents are campaigning for the withdrawal of school yoga classes, believing the activity promotes Hinduism.

In an effort to promote student health, a school district in Encinitas incorporated the yoga classes into its wellness curriculum this week. But a vocal minority of parents, spurred on by an evangelical Christian group, are calling for the program to be dropped.

The parents are backed by the National Center for Law & Policy, a Christian civil liberties organization that advocates for religious causes. The NCLP, a non-profit group, said it is considering suing the school because it claims yoga is inherently religious.

A Christian civil liberties group? Are you joking? All the Christians do is take liberties. And from what I’ve seen, these folks think the ACLU is anti-Christian anyways.

After the yoga classes were introduced, the NCLP released a four-page document listing reasons why it believes the school district is promoting a religious form of the activity.

Many of the NCLP’s claims center on the Jois Foundation, an Encinitas non-profit created in memory of Krishna Pattabhi Jois, who popularized the Ashtanga school of yoga. The district received a $533,000 grant from the foundation and also receives support from University of Virginia and University of San Diego, which are measuring the effects of yoga on children’s health.

Timothy Baird, the school district superintendent, told Encinitas Patch that the district selected instructors and designed the program so there is no religion element to it it.

“To be unconstitutional, we would have to be promoting religion and religious instruction in our program. That just isn’t happening,” Baird said. “What we are promoting is physical activity and overall wellness.”

Jon Gans, a member of the board of directors for USA Yoga, a body that promotes yoga in the US, said he has never been in a yoga class where people were encouraged to believe in a religious practice. “Yoga is a set of exercises to improve your body and your mind. It can be applied to anything you want; it is not in and of itself a religious practice,” Gans said.

The NCLP insists that the Jois Foundation is a religious institution and that the Foundation’s promotion of Ashtanga form of yoga is inherently religious.

Eugene Ruffin, the director of the PK Jois Foundation, who had a Catholic upbringing, denies that the student yoga classes promote religion. Ruffin told local Encinitas radio station KPBS: “They provide you with the exercise and the motivation for children and then they give you character exercises, thou shalt not steal, thou shall be honest, thou shall be respectful to adults.”

Ann Gleig, the editor of Religious Studies Review and assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Central Florida, said in an email that two groups have continually asserted that yoga is inherently religious – evangelical Christians, and some Hindus who want to preserve the practice’s religious influences.

Leave it to the whackos to brew a tempest in a teapot. It’s a sad state of affairs that these crackpots react with their typical xenophobic idiocies.

And they’re not alone:

The Vatican’s former chief exorcist says yoga and Harry Potter are tools of the devil.

“Practicing yoga is Satanic, it leads to evil just like reading Harry Potter,” Father Gabriele Amorth said this week.

Those seemingly “innocuous” Potter books convince kids to believe in black magic, he said.

“In Harry Potter the Devil acts in a crafty and covert manner, under the guise of extraordinary powers, magic spells and curses,” said Amorth.

As for yoga, it leads to Hinduism and “all eastern religions are based on a false belief in reincarnation,” the 86-year-old priest said.

Boy howdy, the things that make the news these days.

Since yoga is far more efficacious than prayer, of course these nimrods are in an uproar. A quick glimpse at a wiki page tells us that:

Long-term yoga practitioners in the United States have reported musculoskeletal and mental health improvements, as well as reduced symptoms of asthma in asthmatics. Regular yoga practice increases brain GABA levels and has been shown to improve mood and anxiety more than some other metabolically matched exercises, such as walking. The three main focuses of Hatha yoga (exercise, breathing, and meditation) make it beneficial to those suffering from heart disease. Overall, studies of the effects of yoga on heart disease suggest that yoga may reduce high blood pressure, improve symptoms of heart failure, enhance cardiac rehabilitation, and lower cardiovascular risk factors. For chronic low back pain, specialist Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs has been found 30% more beneficial than usual care alone in a UK clinical trial. Other smaller studies support this finding. The Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs programme is the dominant treatment for society (both cheaper and more effective than usual care alone) due to 8.5 fewer days off work each year. A research group from Boston University School of Medicine also tested yoga’s effects on lower back pain. Over twelve weeks, one group of volunteers practiced yoga while the control group continued with standard treatment for back pain. The reported pain for yoga participants decreased by one third, while the standard treatment group had only a five percent drop. Yoga participants also had a drop of 80% in pain medication use.

And the evidence just keeps mounting, year after year. It’s sad that this modality, much like martial arts, is infected by all those New Age snake oil salesmen (or –women, or –persons, or whatever ridiculous PC garbage substitutions everybody uses these days), who deal Tarot cards, read the ‘stars’, or promote some vacuous ‘psychic exercise programs’.

So it’s not too much of a stretch (pun intended) to suggest that many of us would actually benefit from this sort of regimen – so for those of you who actually did write up a resolution list for this New Year, it is definitely worth looking into.

Till the next post, then.

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19 Responses to Yogic Religious Agendas? Bit Of A Stretch…

  1. I have practiced yoga since the mid-eighties and always feel better when I work out than when I don’t. I am a chronic low back pain patient with a number of pain control mechanisms: biofeedback, massage, yoga, medicine, vaporized cannabis, exercise, physical therapy…

  2. BeyondRedemption.... says:

    Chritianity…… the religion for the Obtuse

  3. Brooklyn Boy says:

    I find it interesting that these yahoos claim that yoga promotes religion while claiming that creationism does not. but then, moral hypocrisy seems to be a requirement for being an evangelical.

  4. Woody says:

    More than once it has felt to me that religious belief is, to an extent, a paranoid state.
    Has anyone else felt that?
    I’m keen to know what you think.

  5. keddaw says:

    I’m on the side of the Christians here. Yoga is a spiritual endeavour and, as such, has no place being teacher led in a public school.

    So don’t call it yoga, call it neo-calisthetics, eastern stretching, or something where the first line in wikipedia doesn’t say spiritual!

  6. KA says:

    Ah keddaw, ever the contrarian.
    You realize it’s possible to be spiritual WITHOUT being religious? You may want to look the word up.

  7. keddaw says:

    Never one to allow myself to hold wrong opinions where possible I did a quick search of “spiritual”, here’s what I found:
    1. Of, relating to, consisting of, or having the nature of spirit; not tangible or material. See Synonyms at immaterial.
    2. Of, concerned with, or affecting the soul.
    3. Of, from, or relating to God; deific.
    4. Of or belonging to a church or religion; sacred.
    5. Relating to or having the nature of spirits or a spirit; supernatural.

    Now, It strikes me that only the first (and at a push the fifth) is borderline non-religious, but even then it sure as shit ain’t materialistic, scientific or real.

    Please let me know why you think it’s okay for teachers to lead students in rituals relating to their immaterial, supernatural spirit. Or why you think any system could not be stripped of the mystic bullshit while retaining the benefits? Would it be okay for the teachers to teach tarot cards, astrology, crystal healing, aura reading? They have no official religion behind them if yoga doesn’t.

  8. Jesse Cayen says:

    Like all religions, this old ideology will die out. These a reason no one preaches about Seth or Zeus anymore.

  9. KA says:

    Please let me know why you think it’s okay for teachers to lead students in rituals relating to their immaterial, supernatural spirit.

    Ah grasshopper – snatch this pebble from my hand!
    Firstly, as we all know (or should know) – context is granular, not simply confined to simple definitions.
    Here’s a nice link:

    Would it be okay for the teachers to teach tarot cards, astrology, crystal healing, aura reading?

    Let’s not let the fact that Yoga actually works and is prescribed by doctors get in the way of comparing apples to oranges, shall we?

  10. Can’t we just call it stretching and exercise? Whilst I am not ‘with’ the Christians, there is a point to be made that yoga is a religious ritual, and therefore is in violation of the US constitution when sponsored by the state. However, with that said, isn’t this the pot calling the kettle black? Christianity and Hinduism both have their obtuse and pernicious beliefs, can’t we just fucking exercise?

  11. keddaw says:

    “with a belief that everything in the universe is mutually dependent.”

    Sounds like a frigging religion to me!

    So yoga works? Well, actually, resting, introspection, breathing exercises, stretching etc. work. But hey, prayer also works to lower blood pressure and reduce stress levels (only for the person praying, obviously), being religious also leads to generally happier people – so why not allow school prayer, or encourage people to be religious?

    So, as I originally suggested, and Eilif concurs, get rid of the quasi-religious woo label and call it what it is – stretching and breathing. Or teach them tai chi* instead?

    *Which is not without its own issues, but at least it’s mainly philosophy based rather than religion.

  12. KA says:

    Whilst I am not ‘with’ the Christians, there is a point to be made that yoga is a religious ritual,

    It is most assuredly not a religious ritual. Parts of it are used in physical therapy, & if either of you actually take a class, chances are good you’ll not hear a peep about ‘gods’ or ‘goddesses’.

    Or teach them tai chi* instead?
    *Which is not without its own issues, but at least it’s mainly philosophy based rather than religion.

    Excuse me, but I’ve been playing Tai Chi for 21 years – you’ll need to explain these ‘issues’ to me.

  13. keddaw says:

    Well, it’s historical links with taoism for a start.

    Also, good luck persuading Christian parents that something espousing, or in some way linked to, Confucianism isn’t trying to take their special little ones away from Jesus.

  14. keddaw says:

    its, not it’s. Idiot.

    Also, I was referring to its (see I can do it right sometimes!) issues with the Constitution if it was to be taught in public school rather than any other issues you might have been imagining.

  15. KA says:

    Well for 1 thing, Taoism isn’t a religion – some shamanism got into it in later years – Confucianism is a form of humanism anyways. Comparison of the East and the West get confused. It’s a difference of mindset.
    The yoga thing – its roots are religious, but it doesn’t have to be anymore. Most of the good instructors won’t broach the ‘religious’ nonsense. But the bad ones use it to market themselves.
    (I almost did the ‘it’s’ thing myself – so you’re forgiven;) )

  16. Woody says:

    I wonder why the supposed revelations of Jesus don’t include a similar kind of activity for the exercise and health of his flock. Or do they?

  17. Keddaw, I agree Yoga is a religious ritual, in fact is has a deep history in esoteric Hinduism, it literally means ‘yoking body with spirit.’ I have been to yoga classes, and yes I have been told about the faiths behind the exercises during these classes. Can’t we just exercise and stretch?

  18. Yoga is “a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline” according to the dictionary.

  19. DBK says:

    “all eastern religions are based on a false belief in reincarnation,” unlike Christianity, which is based on the belief that Jesus died and came back to life, which isn’t reincar…oh. Wait a minute.

    Never mind.

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