School bans 'namaste,' apologizes for yoga – USA TODAY

KENNESAW, Ga. — A Kennesaw elementary school issued an apology after some parents complained about yoga in the classroom. They’ve banned the word “namaste,” the move of putting hand over heart, and any talk of healing crystals (which was never actually taught).
A note from the principal at Bullard Elementary School said, “I am truly sorry that the mindfulness/de-stressing practices here at Bullard caused many misconceptions that in turn created a distraction in our community.”
Those distractions include some parents criticizing the yoga instruction via public Facebook pages, saying the practice has religious overtones.
“No prayer in schools. Some don’t even say the pledge, yet they’re pushing ideology on our students,” Cobb County mother Susan Jaramillo said. “Some of those things are religious practices that we don’t want our children doing in our schools.”
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Both the Cobb County School District and Bullard Elementary declined a request for an interview, but the school district did forward a copy of the letter Principal Patrice Moore sent home to parents.
“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,” she said in the note.
Cheryl Crawford has taught adult and children’s yoga in various Atlanta area schools and yoga studios for years, though not at Bullard Elementary.
“Namaste means the light in me sees the light in you. When we teach it in school it’s a greeting in India. It’s a greeting like hello. We tell them that the goodness in me sees the goodness in you,” Crawford said.
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Crawford said eliminating the Hindu greeting is not really a big deal and she’s glad students are getting the benefits from yoga: breathing training, mindfulness and relaxation techniques.
“It helps them focus. If they can focus inwardly, they can focus on what’s being taught,” she said.
The students will still work on breathing and yoga, but not Pranamasana, a move where a person presses hands together and bows. The school is making the changes in hopes that yoga can continue to relieve stress — instead of causing more.
Follow Valerie Hoff and Julie Wolfe on Twitter: @Valerie_Hoff and @JulieWolfe


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