Downward Dogma: The Hindu Threat
Islamophobia is so 2010.
To meet the more current threat totally not facing our nation, one must travel to the town of Encinitas—located on the California coast between San Diego and Los Angeles.
Encinita’s local school district has received a $533,000 grant from a local yoga studio enabling students to learn about healthy eating, cultivating small gardens, and… (*cue shrieking violins from Hitchcock film*) Ashtanga yoga. Elementary school students in the district began taking yoga for 30 minutes, twice per week. Parents can opt their kids out of the program, but only 3 to 4 families at each school have chosen to do so.
You already know where this is going. A handful of local yahoos freaked out and conjured visions of their wee ones being indoctrinated with exotic Hindu hatred of Jesus. Words that begin and end in a vowel are not to be trusted.
What’s amusing about their phobia is that yoga couldn’t be more mainstream at this point. Approximately 22 million Americans practice it, and it’s a good bet that the majority of them have never read the Bhagavad Gita—Hindu’s 700-verse sacred text.
Eugene Ruffin is a Catholic who runs a Highway 101 yoga studio near Encinitas.
“It’s hard to know how to respond to someone who says if you touch your toes, you’re inviting the devil into your soul,” Ruffin told the LA Times, adding that those who go to his yoga studio are predominantly Christians and Jews.
Ergo, the militant Hindu uprising appears to be a massive failure on par with the surging tide of Sharia Law imagined by your crazy uncle.
Sara Whitney is the vice president of Rainforest Yoga in Juneau, Alaska, and a certified yoga teacher. She’s also the mother of two young school kids, so I asked for her perspective on the Encinitas YogaGate controversy
“Yoga is not a religion—it’s a system of self-care that can be practiced by anyone with any belief system, regardless of the culture from which it arose,” Whitney explained to me. “It teaches children a lot about their bodies and how to calm themselves, and helps them develop self-control as well as strength and all the general benefits of exercise you’d expect.”
So it’s like gym class?
“It’s more than just exercise. Giving kids the mental space to be quiet and pay attention to their breath during the day will help them focus in school and probably get along better with each other, too. Kids need stress relief just as much as adults, and it’s a shame that misconceptions about what yoga is might prevent these kids from benefiting from an opportunity like this.”
In the aftermath of Sandy Hook and other school tragedies, it seems perverse that this is what some would seek to vanquish in court.