January 12, 2007
A bit of a stretch
A fine Christian mother exercises her right to right her son’s exercises:
Chelsea Brears’s son came home from school the other day and showed his mom what he learned in class.
The Grade 6 pupil clasped his hands together in front of his chest, stretched into a yoga pose and chanted. The 10-year-old had learned about yoga in his Kersley Elementary School just outside of Quesnel that day. He thought it was simply stretches. His mother thought differently.
Mrs. Brears said yesterday that, as a Christian, she believes that yoga is a religion and, if Christianity is not allowed to be taught in school, neither should any other kind. She has requested that the local school board and Education Minister Shirley Bond look into removing the yoga stretches from classrooms.
“Yoga isn’t just a stretch,” she said. “It’s an ancient Hindu religion that has been practised for a few thousand years. There’s a strong spiritual belief which accompanies these stretches or poses.”
Mrs. Brears said she finds it offensive that Christ has been taken out of Christmas concerts and no one is allowed to say prayers in schools. Yet yoga teaches reincarnation and being in a trance-like state.
“If this isn’t spirituality or a religion then I am really confused as to what it is,” she said. “Each yoga posture is supposed to represent something spiritual.”
… Sue Ellen Miller, superintendent for the school district of Quesnel, said the poses are intended to help students become strong. They are imitations of animals such as a turtle, where students are crouched down, and a mouse, which involves placing the forehead on the ground, and a tree, with hands in a prayer motion on the chest or lifted high. In one of the poses, students can say the word namaste, which is a greeting in Hindi.
“Yoga is not a religion. It’s a program that teachers can implement to keep kids moving throughout the day. It may be a 10-minute activity. Children don’t have to participate in the program and it’s important that parents don’t believe we’re teaching this as a religion,” Ms. Miller said.
… Audrey Cummings, who holds a fellowship meeting each afternoon at her Quesnel area ranch, said she hopes more people write in to convince school officials that yoga is a religion.
“When we kicked God out of schools, there was no absolute standard of right. Now there’s only relativism,” said Mrs. Cummings, whose children were home-schooled. “This is not right to bring it in and not advise parents we’re introducing an Eastern religion into our schools.”
… Dedicated Christians do worry that yoga will replace the Christian practice of prayer, said Eleanor Stebner, an associate professor of theology at Simon Fraser University.
Prof. Stebner, an ordained minister, said while yoga is part of a religious practice, in itself it is no more of a religion than jogging.
But at least jogging doesn’t let the Devil in.
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