Curriculum Integration: All basic curriculum areas are addressed, as well as classroom management, test preparation, fitness, and environmental and multicultural education.
But it’s more than just physical education and relaxation. In this report from WTVJ channel 6, Miami, kids are being taught some fascinating immune system woo:
Some of the yoga poses have actual health benefits, according to DeWitt. "The Tarzan thymus tap in particular, where they're tapping their chest and tapping the glands in their bodies, that helps stimulate and helps the immune system function better," she said.
Although yoga has been catching on in many school systems it is not without controversy. According to an MSNBC report, some parents are concerned that teaching it in the public schools violates the establishment clause:
Tara Guber and her staff demonstrate a typical session where she teaches the teachers in her home in Los Angeles. When Guber created a yoga program five years ago for a public elementary school in Colorado, she never fathomed her proposal would provoke a crusade by some who argued that yoga's Hindu roots possibly violated the separation of church and state.
But proponents of Yoga in the public schools argue that it is merely a form of exercise, or that it is scientific. Well, that's not only woo but another example of a common guise under which Eastern religions are repackaged for the West. We’ve seen this sort of repackaging not only of Yoga but also of other traditions such as Zen Buddhism (as illustrated by the writings of Alan Watts).
Perhaps the best example, and one which provides precedent for an establishment clause challenge, is Transcendental Meditation, a tradition based on Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s brand of Hindu faith. For a time TM was promoted in the West as the “Science of Creative Intelligence” (SCI) and introduced into the New Jersey public schools. With support from the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, teaching of “The Science of Creative Intelligence” was challenged in court. On December 12, 1977 the U.S. District Court of New Jersey ruled that due to the religious underpinnings of SCI its teaching was in violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment. The New Jersey public schools were thereby enjoined from teaching TM.
I wonder if the case might provide precedent for an establishment clause challenge against the teaching of Yoga in public schools. For that matter, given the religious origins of many forms of woo taught in medical schools, at least those that receive government funding, there may be basis for legal challenges at that level as well.