Dear Kids Yoga Teacher,
Place one hand on your heart and the other hand on your belly and take three long slow deep breaths. Visualize yourself as an eagle soaring back in time to capture a bird’s eye view of the landscape of yoga then and to what is to come; notice that in 1976, only 5 million people practiced yoga compared with the 20 million people practicing today-quite a leap! This increase is significant to keep in mind as we take a look at how yoga in schools is growing and being challenged as a violation of the 1st Amendment in cases such as the lawsuit in Encinitas Union District in California and the recent banning of ‘namaste’ at Bullard Elementary in Kennesaw, GA. These two instances have been resolved with sensitivity and respect, and it is our job to continue to teach self-regulation yoga techniques in a public-school friendly way. If you are wondering how to keep yoga in alignment with the 1st Amendment, check out this article called “3 Ways to Keep Yoga Pea-Cey!”
The intention of this letter is to encourage you to stay the course in the kids yoga movement and be reminded that you are plowing a new path for children to learn how to de-stress with their body and brain. With any new movement that grows at rapid speeds, there will be tidal waves, like lawsuits and protests against the very thing that ushers in peace, but don’t lose heart, get defensive or angry because patience and tolerance will unite both sides.
The evolution of acceptance grows at a slow pace, and yoga in schools is at the beginning phase of this process. Let’s take a look how these familiar and frequent terms in public schools don’t make us question the constitution today….
- Olympics– “The Olympics in the 6th century BC was held every four years during religious festivals honoring the god Zeus.” The games were named after Olympia in southern Greece, where the ancient games were played. Today the entire world watches, supports and says the word “Olympics” without any thought to its religious origin.
- Lacrosse– “Lacrosse was a gift to us from the Creator, to be played for his enjoyment and as a medicine game for healing the people. The Haudenosaunee people know that all creatures, no matter how big or small, are significant and have a contribution to make to the overall cycle of life.” Now there are school lacrosse teams nationwide without question to whether or not they violate 1st Amendment.
- Planets and Days of the Week– The planets and days of the week are named after gods. Venus was the Roman God of love and Thursday is named after Jupiter, the thunder god in Latin as well as the Germanic tradition. These words stem from religious origin and are taught in schools, but again, there is no concern of violating the 1st Amendment when learning about the planets and days of the week.
- Yoga– will be just like the word olympics, lacrosse, planets and days of the week in generations to come.
Now bring your attention back to your breath, feel your heartbeat with your hand and feel your other hand rise and fall as you gently breathe in and out. You soar back to right now in 2016 with the awareness that you are right in the middle of the evolution of acceptance. Turn the corners of your mouth up right and smile that you get to teach children to breathe and connect with themselves, as you focus your intention on the “tools” that help children, rather than the “terms” that cause barriers, so that the kids don’t miss out on the gift that yoga brings to the mind and body. Let’s soar above controversy and embrace the process.
From my heart to yours,
Rachel Glowacki–E-RYT, Co-Founder of Kids Holy Yoga and Co-author of Kids Yogaverse Apps