Should Encinitas Schools Teach Yoga?

In the last few months there has been much debate over whether or not Encinitas schools should be incorporating yoga into their physical education programs. As an Encinitas real estate agent and resident I think it is important that you have all of the facts of this issue covered without bias so that you can come to your own conclusion, and I hope that you will share your opinion with me in the comments section of this blog.

The state of California requires physical education instruction for a total of 200 minutes every 10 days and in order to incorporate this state mandate many schools in Encinitas have had to rely on their classroom teachers instead of a dedicated physical education instructor to meet the requirement.

Starting in 2012, the EUSD (Encinitas Union School District), received a $533,000 grant from the Jois Foundation to incorporate yoga into their PE curriculum. Based on this grant it is expected that all schools will be teaching their students yoga by the spring.

While some parents, students, and community members have embraced the yoga program, others believe that it indoctrinates children due to the religious nature of the particular form of yoga that is being taught.

There are many different types of yoga, but the grant provided to EUSD specified that Ashtanga yoga be taught to the children. The Jois Foundation is named after K. Pattabhi Jois, a man who dedicated his life to the teaching of Ashtanga yoga and popularizing the form. Ashtanga yoga has roots in Hinduism and this is where many parents and community members take issue with this form of yoga being taught in schools.

Dr. Timothy Baird, superintendent of the EUSD, stated that, “only the physical component of yoga is taught” and that any “cultural elements” had been taken out of the yoga program. Some parents feel that the inherently religious connection of Ashtanga yoga is at issue and that at it’s nature it is spiritual.

Many other parents and students feel that the program has been exceptionally helpful and provides not only a calming effect on the children that allows them to focus, but also helps them stay healthy and in shape. At a recent informational session parents and members of the community were able to voice their opinions on the topic.

So what do you think? Should Encinitas schools be teaching Ashtanga yoga? Should they be teaching yoga at all? Do the benefits far outweigh any potential spiritual implications? Let me know what you think.

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