Mary Billard, “In Schools, Yoga Without the Spiritual” NY Times, 10/7/2011

This article is about yoga classes and programs being taught in schools and how the religious aspect of yoga is not supposed to be involved at all.  One specific example given in the article is called Bent on Learning; this ten year old program is offered at New York City public schools as an instruction in yoga and meditation to students.  The yoga is meant to reduce stress and improve concentration of students and does not have a religious element to it.  One of the founders of the program said, “No om. No prayer position with the hands. Nothing that anyone could look in and think, this is religious.”  Even though most of the article is about non-religious yoga in public schools, there a few paragraphs right at the end of the article that mention private schools with after school yoga programs that are more religious in nature.

This article is from the opposite point of view than my last blog post (Western instead of from a Buddhist point of view).  The tone of the article is positive towards yoga in general, but emphasis the fact that the yoga done in public schools is not religious whatsoever (showing separation of church and state).  Even though it was mentioned in the article that some private schools that do teach yoga incorporate religious aspects into the programs, this was not emphasized at all.  For instance, one charter school with yoga as an elective class included ringing a singing bowl. “Such a bowl is sometimes used in religious ceremonies, but here it (in the yoga class) had the secular goal of quieting rambunctious children and focusing their attention.”  Therefore it is shown that despite the attempt to include religious aspects in yoga, in the Western world this combination of yoga and religion is not as coherent.  Overall, this clearly shows that Western point of view of yoga and its purpose is not necessarily of a religious background, but used to relax oneself and reduce stress.