Desi Bartlett M.S., CPT, Fitness, Yoga & Dance Expert, Mom & Spokesperson.

Posts tagged: Children

Kids Yoga

Recently I read an article in the LA Times about some folks in Encinitas who took a strong stance against Yoga being taught in their schools, and basically thought that there was an agenda to convert children to Hinduism. I felt pretty strongly about this being more than a little disturbing, and wanted to share my open letter to the editor. Namaste, Desi

photo by Natiya Guin

Dear Tony,
As someone who has taught Yoga in an LAUSD school, I can tell you that the criteria for these types of programs is required to be in alignment with the guidelines for physical education for the state of California’s State Board. With funding being cut for physical education all of the time, these types of programs help to develop physical awareness, strength, coordination, and mental focus, as well as increasing self esteem in a non competitive setting.

As a long time Yoga practitioner and teacher, I am obviously aware that Yoga originated in India, and that it is steeped with the tradition of that beautiful country. However, if the lawyer in your piece did a little more research, he would find that Yoga is not a religion, and does not require a specific belief in any deity, nor does it have a worship service, ordained clergy, institutional structure, membership procedure or church. Some of the beautiful stories in the Indian tradition and mythology have led to names of poses like Warrior pose. This can be equated to Westerners in the gym doing a preacher (bicep) curl. There is a recognition of a shape, form or quality, but that does not make it tantamount to organized religion. When I am practicing a preacher curl, I have no litigious inclination to sue the gym for imposing their religious beliefs on me.

I think that the confusion comes in because Yoga can absolutely be part of someone’s spiritual practice, but it is in no way required. There is no hidden agenda to convert everyone to Hinduism, and great Yogis like Yogananda, who built a spiritual center in Encintas, recognized the beauty of all religions living in harmony with one another. To be clear, Yoga is not a religion, and those who practice any religion, or no religion are welcome to practice Yoga.

Now that my son is of school age (see attached picture), I am elated to see him involved in a preschool Yoga program, and how much he enjoys singing songs like, ‘This Little Light of Mine,’ and barking in down dog, or moo-ing in cow pose. For those who are concerned about mantras or statements made in children’s Yoga classes, I can share the mantra from the class that I taught through the P.S. I Love You Foundations and the Yoga 1.2.3. program;
I am happy to be me
I take Yoga 1.2.3.
I take Yoga for my health
I can always change my mood
Life improves with attitude!

During these storms, both literal and figurative, may we all have the ability to remember that our lives improve with a positive attitude.
Desiree Bartlett MS CPT YT
photo by Natiya Guin

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