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October 7, 2008

Stretching it?

I read in the Chicago Tribune that parents and religious leaders in Massena, N.Y., are upset that a public school district offered yoga instruction to students. They claimed it violates the separation of church and state.

Two high school teachers introduced yoga to students to relieve stress before exams. Students liked it, so teachers considered expanding the program to the district. But the board of education suspended the program after parents complained that yoga’s origins in Eastern spirituality and philosophy would improperly influence students. Colin Lucid, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, was quoted: “We can understand the benefits. We are opposed to the philosophy behind it, and that has its ties in Hinduism and the way they were presenting it.”

Quinn Kearney, a Chicago yoga instructor said the practice can be traced to multiple religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism, but its roots are somewhat of a mystery. “For some, yoga is all about exercise; for others there is a strong philosophical and spiritual connection,” she said. “The beauty is, it’s whatever you make of it.”

Are they making too much of it in New York?

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