Are yoga and mindfulness in faculties religious?
The number of U.S. Youngsters age four to 17 training yoga rose from 2.Three% to 8.Four% – or from 1.3 million to four.9 million – among 2007 and 2017, federal facts display. The number of youngsters meditating rose to three.1 million all through the identical period.
The rise is due in component to greater yoga and mindfulness programs being set up in America’s faculties. A 2015 study located 3 dozen special yoga agencies presenting yoga packages in 940 K-12 schools.
Yoga and mindfulness should become the fourth “R” of public education. But up for debate is whether or not the “R” in this situation stands for rest or faith.
As a professor of nonsecular research, I actually have served as an expert witness in four public-college yoga and meditation felony demanding situations. I testified that faculty yoga and meditation programs in shape prison criteria of religion.
In one case, the court agreed that yoga “can be nonsecular in some contexts,” but ultimately concluded that the school district’s yoga instructions were “without any nonsecular, mystical, or religious trappings.” In two other cases wherein I testified, yoga and meditation primarily based charter schools were observed to violate a country law prohibiting public colleges from offering “any spiritual coaching.”
My studies and experience lead me to believe that there are issues with how yoga is being applied in colleges. My intention isn’t always to prohibit yoga or mindfulness from faculty settings. But I trust there are criminal and moral reasons to paintings towards more transparency and voluntary participation in yoga.
A query of faith
Although many Americans accept as true with that yoga and mindfulness aren’t nonsecular, now not everyone accepts that the practices are absolutely secular.
My new ebook, “Debating Yoga and Mindfulness in Public Schools: Reforming Secular Education or Reestablishing Religion?” examines these issues. The ebook argues that integrating yoga and mindfulness into public faculties should violate laws against government establishment of religion.
The Yoga Alliance, an business enterprise that purports to be the “largest nonprofit affiliation representing the yoga network,” argued in 2014 that DC yoga studios must be exempt from sales tax due to the fact the motive of yoga is “nonsecular instead of fitness.” However, when parents sued a California faculty district in 2013 alleging that its yoga software violates the prohibition in opposition to the kingdom establishment of religion, the Yoga Alliance rebutted that yoga is a workout and “not nonsecular.” Thus, the Yoga Alliance appears to take the location that yoga is nonsecular however now not spiritual. Courts have not, however, made this difference.
In a few prison instances, the courts have concluded that yoga and meditation are religious practices. A 1988 Arkansas case called Powell v. Perry, as an instance, concluded that “yoga is a way of training Hinduism.” The 1995 Self-Realization Fellowship Church v. Ananda Church of Self Realization case categorized the “Hindu-Yoga nonsecular subculture” as a “religious subculture.”
The 1979 Malnak v. Yogi case defined Transcendental Meditation as a “faith” and consequently ruled that a non-obligatory high college Transcendental Meditation class changed into unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that public colleges might not recommend religious practices together with prayer and Bible reading, even if children are allowed to “opt out.” The Court dominated that working towards religion within the lecture room is coercive because of mandatory attendance, teacher authority, and peer pressure.