Beyond 'Namaste': The benefits of yoga in schools

Story highlights

  • Some parents have protested schools' yoga programs
  • Yoga can have benefits for any child, regardless of faith, instructor says

Dana Santas is the creator of Radius Yoga Conditioning, a yoga style designed to help people move, breathe and feel better. She's the yoga trainer for the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays, Tampa Bay Lightning and dozens of pros in the National Football League, National Hockey League, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and Professional Golfers' Association.

(CNN)It's increasingly common for office workers to integrate yoga techniques into their workday as a means of countering prolonged sitting and of refreshing their ability to concentrate. But religious concerns have caused ongoing controversy about schoolchildren, who also spend many hours sitting each day, leveraging the benefits of yoga.

Most recently, the issue was raised by parents in Georgia whose children attend an elementary school that implemented yoga in the classroom. Although yoga is not a religion in and of itself, it is a philosophy, rooted in Hinduism, composed of a system of various practices designed to heighten spirituality.
However, what the concerned parents probably don't realize is that the popular Americanized version of yoga being taught in schools is a secular form of mind-body exercise focused on mental and physical benefits, not spirituality.
    In 2013, a judge in Encinitas, California, ruled against a suit initiated by parents seeking to end a yoga program at their children's school, stating that the school was not teaching religion through its yoga classes.
    5-minute morning yoga to seize the day