left biblioblography: Yogic Religious Agendas? Bit Of A Stretch…

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Yogic Religious Agendas? Bit Of A Stretch…

Cross posted at the Atheist Oasis
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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