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Kids Yoga in the Public Schools – Introducing Mythology and Science as Subjects for Enlightened Minds
by Sydney Solis

 

 

 

 

Editor´s Note from Brooke Nisbet: This is an interesting piece that makes a case for having yoga in public schools. It discusses the fears many may have if they view yoga as religion, for example. The author assures us that it's not only NOT a religion, but in fact science and therefore, she believes has a true home in the public schools.

 

Holy Wars are erupting all over America! People are dying for their metaphors of the eternal, Joseph Campbell would say. Alternately, let’s introduce mythology and science in public school classrooms to discuss yoga science, hear some great world mythology and educate our youth  in reason, empiricism and enlightenment.

Every now and then somebody with a strong identification with their metaphor for the eternal gets upset about something called yoga in the public schools. As a yoga scientist and mythologist, I can tell where the confusion can come in. We need another age of enlightenment where reason and science can help us clearly understand reality and make practical decisions rather than emotional ones that are based on fairy tales that assuage us in dealing with our anxiety of death, which all religions originally did.

Yoga is a science. It’s a fact that deep breathing will calm the nervous system. It’s a fact that meditation develops concentration. It’s a fact that yoga asana improves muscular skeletal alignment. A string of beads is just a string of beads. You call it a rosary? A mala? A tiglly wiggly? People project names and meaning onto things. They do it to help them cope with the anxiety and overwhelm of life and its chaos. People like to create meaning out of yoga poses, too. That’s a personal preference, and the best way to discuss these preferences is through a mythology class. It’s a great way to learn history and English as well as social studies and geography!

I think every elementary school teacher public or private should be telling lots of myths and stories from other cultures, and middle and high school kids should have full-blown mythology course electives, speech debates and scientific research done on subjects and their mythology of preference. We can examine history for evidences where the mind played tricks on people with false cognition of events, such as the Salem Witch trials. Turned out a mold on wheat produced psychoactive results on its victims, much like LSD! Bring out pictures such as the Rorschach Test to give an example of  psychological projection of the mind and story. Kids can compare and contrast mythological symbols, such as the snake, which in Christian mythology is evil, but in Hinduism is not necessarily, or in Western ideas the dragon is evil, while Eastern a dragon is a bringer of luck. They can  discuss how religions are similar, such as many cultures around the world have myths of a virgin birth or savior king. One can through the science of yoga practice benefit from the physical and scientifically proven aspects, supplemented by a good anatomy class, and use empiricism to make up one’s own mind about the philosophy or meaning behind the practice and its results. Everything else is just reality open to interpretation!
The best part of all that is when one starts to recognize and become aware of these symbols through reason, it becomes a vehicle for self-awareness and higher levels of intelligence and evolution. The Second Enlightenment is coming!

A lot of people, Christians, Jews, Buddhists and others, understand this and don’t have a problem with yoga in the public schools. Here’s an article I appeared in the Denver Post about kids yoga, and it features Regis Catholic School teaching yoga!

Here is an excerpt from a Blog Post I wrote March 8, 2010 during a school residency in which parents were upset about yoga in school where I was artist in residence.

Typically, a few parents are misinformed that yoga exposes their children to Eastern religion and had them pulled from class. I gave the teachers this response to give to parents.

Dear Parent,

I understand your concern about unfamiliar concepts being taught in your child’s school.

Storytime Yoga is a firm supporter of the first amendment and separation of church and state.

The dictionary definition of religion is:

 * the belief and worship of a super human controlling power, especially a personal God or Gods
 * details of belief as taught or discussed
 * a particular system of faith or worship

None of these definitions apply to Storytime Yoga and what your child will be doing in school.

Storytime Yoga is an educational program based on scientific and factual methods of exercise combined with the art of storytelling intended to improve children’s health and literacy.
Any meaning that an individual creates about the stories and postures and projects onto these factual methods is up to him or her.

We invite you to come and observe or participate for yourself to better understand these facts and the benefits your child will receive from experiencing Storytime Yoga.

best wishes,
SYDNEY SOLIS

 

 

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About the Author
 
Since 2000, Sydney Solis has been spreading the joy and wisdom of kids yoga and story with Storytime™ Yoga, the pioneering kids and family yoga program. From her children's show on PBS featuring her award-winning DVD The Peddler's Dream, to Kids Yoga Camps at Kripalu, Sydney enchants audiences of all ages. A widow, she lives with her two children, four dogs and  72-year-old Puerto Rican farmer mentor on her Yoga Farm in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. (Also find her at www.storytimeyogaforkids.com.)
 
 
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