Parents of students at a Georgia school that uses yoga to reduce children's stress complained about the religious connotations, forcing the school to drop the Sanskrit greeting "Namaste" and the practice of placing hands "to heart center."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports
an apologetic principal at Bullard Elementary School in Kennesaw, Ga., announced the changes last week in an email blast.
"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," principal Patrice Moore wrote, the newspaper reports.
"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."
The school has now nixed saying "Namaste," in yoga class, and having children place their hands "to heart center." Also banned: coloring pages with the Indian religious symbol of the cosmos, called the Mandala, and any talk "about crystals having healing powers," she wrote.
The flurry of parental criticism aired on social media, and television.
"No prayer in schools. Some don't even say the pledge, yet they're pushing ideology on our students," parent Susan Jaramillo told NBC's Atlanta affiliate, WXIA. "Some of those things are religious practices that we don't want our children doing in our schools."
Bullard parent Christopher Smith was similarly stressed, taking to Facebook to complain about the encroachment of "this Far East mystical religion."
Cheryl Crawford, who trains faculty and students in yoga-based practices, insists the techniques aren't an endorsement of any religion.
"It's a way to get children aware of their breath patterns, their tendencies and habits," she tells the newspaper. "It's a physical act, but you're using your mind and your breath. It's linking body and mind through the breath."
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