Elementary School Yoga Ed Becomes Church and State Issue

August 29, 2002

Source: The Denver Post

On August 29, 2002 The Denver Post reported that Aspen Elementary School's plans to start a pilot program called Yoga Ed has stirred up a controversy over separation of church and state. The report states, "several parents have objected to their little ones participating in what they see as something bordering on a mystical religious practice. The school now plans to hold a meeting for parents next week to explain the program. 'I wish I could just change the name of this to 'stretching and breathing' and call it good,' said exasperated school principal Barb Pitchford, who doesn't practice yoga herself. Yoga Ed was developed by Los Angeles yoga teacher Tara Guber and is practiced in the Los Angles Public School system, as well as in  public schools in Seattle, San Francisco and Columbus, Ohio. The program involves various yoga stretching poses and deep breathing techniques performed for about 25 minutes once a week. Nancy Ferguson, executive director of the national Yoga Alliance, said the link between yoga and religion is a misconception. 'Yoga is a practice or a discipline that grew out of Hinduism 5,000 years ago. But it's not a religion,' she said. 'It's a physical practice.'"