By Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

You have experienced the benefits first hand, and decided to become a Yoga instructor. Now you want to spread the word about the benefits to children in public schools. After all, children are not getting enough physical education, they are very stressed out, and they are bigger than ever.

It seems like a perfect fit, but there are obstacles, which you should be aware of. Most people are educated enough to realize that Yoga will improve any child’s health and well being. However, there are some exceptions in the case of religious fundamentalists, who insist that Yoga is clearly a religious instruction.

Granted if Yogic philosophy were part of a class, it would result in a deeply moral and spiritually connected practitioner, but even in this case, religious instruction is a rarity in a Yoga class. You already know that Yoga does not exclude any group, because of religion, gender, age, color, ethic background, or social status.

Yogic philosophy does not preach intolerance, judgment of others, or that everyone else is going to hell, because they are not one of us. What a stark contrast to fundamentalism, which preaches intolerance, judgment of others, everyone else is going to hell, and in some extreme cases fundamentalism preaches, “It is justified to kill anyone who does not believe the same thing.”

Granted there are some people who you cannot reason with. Especially, those who believe they can commit crimes against humanity, and also believe, they will go to heaven for it.

So, how do you explain the benefits of Yoga for children in public schools? If two thirds of the adult population in the west has never practiced Yoga, you must assume that you have to thoroughly explain what you are teaching.

Before you talk to anyone to promote Yoga in public schools, please take the time to film your children’s classes. In this way, you will be able to demonstrate exactly what you do. It might be wise to have a duplicate DVD prepared; so that educators can show it to the school committee, other teachers, and concerned parents.

Do not be surprised if your Yoga classes are monitored closely to make sure you do not discuss Yogic philosophy or meditate. In the US, we live at a time when a different form of fundamentalist has successfully worked to ban Christmas trees, decorations, and carols, from pubic schools and government buildings.

Whether you feel it is right or wrong; this is only the “tip of the iceberg,” as the US government has “bent over backwards” to prove there is a separation between any religion and the state.

Therefore, if you teach Yoga in public schools demonstrate posturing (Asanas) and breathing (Pranayama) only. This will help you avoid being drawn into the “gray area” of debate.

© Copyright 2007 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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