Divided Opinions Over Practice of Yoga in Aspen Schools

February 21, 2003

Source: India Abroad

On February 21, 2003 India Abroad reported that residents of Aspen are expressing differing opinions concerning the teaching of yoga in Aspen public schools. "Teaching yoga in public schools not only violates the Constitution, says pastor Steven Woodrow of the First Baptist Church, it also draws young children unwittingly towards Hinduism... As for the contention of Aspen Elementary School principal Barb Pitchford who argues yoga helps children concentrate better and improves physique, Woodrow asks: 'How about teaching them Pilates or aerobics?' The Aspen pilot program for yoga reaches about 400 students. About two dozen parents have insisted on withdrawing their children from the classes, citing their Christian beliefs are being compromised... The opponents of the yoga curriculum in public and private schools in Aspen-- including Baptist pastors, Catholic priests and parents of various denominations-- are convinced it cannot be separated from Hinduism. Woodrow and like-minded critics are not impressed with the fact that a New York court upheld yoga being taught in a Westchester County, New York school two years ago... The controversy has now turned bitter and school principals will decide by the end of the semester if they should continue with the instruction."