(WaPo) — “We need to direct our attention inward and connect to the breath,” yoga instructor Rachel Brathen writes in her New York Times best-selling book about the practice. “Focusing on our breath keeps us present, calms the mind, and allows us to develop the awareness of the body we need to practice with care and compassion.” Since the ancient discipline with roots in Hinduism and Buddhism became a popular exercise in the West, yogis have inundated popular culture with their pursuit of that elusive “calm” in a rapidly spinning world. “Mindfulness,” the meditative state associated with yoga, has likewise been adopted as a way to clear the mind. So when administrators at Bullard Elementary School in Kennesaw, Ga., implemented yoga and other mindfulness practices in the classroom to reduce students’ stress, they probably envisioned peace and relaxation in their future. Instead, they received a flurry of complaints — from parents who felt yoga represented the encroachment of non-Christian beliefs. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Bullard’s principal, Patrice Moore, sent parents an email last week announcing changes to its yoga program. “I am truly sorry that the mindfulness/ de-stressing practices here at Bullard caused many misconceptions that in turn created a distraction in our school and community,” Moore wrote. “While we have been practicing de-stressing techniques in many classrooms for years, there have been some recent practices associated with mindfulness that are offensive to some.” Among the elements of the program that will be eliminated: the Sanskrit greeting “Namaste,” placing hands “to heart center” and coloring pages with the symbol of the Mandala (a spiritual symbol in Indian religions representing the cosmos). Moore noted that a rumor had also spread about using or teaching “about crystals having healing powers.” “We will ensure that nothing resembling this will be done in the future,” she said.
So Twitter is going a little haywire over this today about how it’s ridiculous, or something. Totally, totally agree. Banning yoga from class is idiotic, especially when it’s used for mindfulness and relaxation. But let’s not pretend that it’s Eastern religion that’s under attack here or anything. You can’t say the Pledge of Allegiance before class because it has “God” in it, you can’t say “Merry Christmas,” or color drawings of Easter Eggs. I mean just kneeling and praying is a good practice for mindfulness and relaxation too, and that was banned like a century ago. Banning stretching because it has roots in eastern religion is dumb as shit, but so is forbidding a kid from telling someone, “God bless you,” after they sneeze. Everyone’s an idiot. Let’s just leave it at that. Remember that in life and everything’s fine: everyone in the world, except you, is wrong and a moron.