Some parents at a Georgia elementary school are balking at yoga exercises they believe violate their Christian beliefs.
Administrators at Bullard Elementary School hosted a meeting with parents to address what they said were misconceptions circulating on social media about the yoga practice, reported the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
The school’s principal also sent out an email to explain the exercises and point out to parents that some elements — such as the “namaste” greeting and other Hindu customs associated with yoga — will not be used any longer.
But that has not calmed fearful parents, who warned against “mindfulness indoctrination.”
“Now we can’t pray in our schools or practice Christianity but they are allowing this Far East mystical religion with crystals and chants to be practiced under the guise of stress release meditation,” said parent Christopher Smith on Facebook. “This is all without parents knowledge or approval. This is very scary. Parents beware of what your children are being taught without your knowledge.”
Another parent, Bekka Miller Fedusiv, complained that “rogue teachers” singled out students and taught them “how to pray” over crystals and given books on Buddhism.
Principal Patrice Moore, however, said students have never been taught that crystals have healing powers, although she said some students have come to believe that, so those will no longer be used during the exercises.
Yoga-based classes have become more popular in school systems, as the practice becomes more mainstream and less connected to its spiritual roots in Asia.
Many schools use yoga and breathing exercises to help students deal with stress, increase classroom focus and get physical exercise as recess and physical education is curtailed.
But the practice has drawn suspicions, especially among Christian parents who see a double standard because prayer and other religious activities are prohibited during class time.