Austrian primary school bans yoga

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Austrian primary school bans yoga
Children in India practising yoga. Photo: APA/Sanjeev Gupta

A primary school in the town of Dechantskirchen in Styria has banned yoga from gym classes after a mother of one of the students protested against it for religious reasons.


“All I heard was that according to the Bible yoga should not be allowed and it would lead the children in the wrong direction,” yoga teacher Ingrid Karner told the Kleine Zeitung.

She was disappointed as her monthly yoga classes had proved to be a success with both parents and children.

“We introduced children’s yoga and concentration exercises into gym classes. I presented the project to the headmistress and the district school inspector in advance and they were both happy with it,” Karner said.

“In Germany yoga has long been a part of the curriculum for children,” she added.

Headmistress Maria Hofer confirmed that she and other parents had been happy with the inclusion of yoga exercises in gym classes but that since one mother had complained and said that “she did not want her child coming into contact with yoga for religious reasons” it has had to be stopped.

Many parents are outraged that their children can no longer do yoga. "What happened to tolerance and democracy?” Siegfried Kogler said. He added that his daughter’s performance at school had improved after doing the yoga exercises.

District school inspector Helga Thomann said that in principle she thought children’s yoga was a good idea but said that “anything from the Far East that touches on the esoteric has no place in schools”.

She said that drawing and painting Tibetan mandalas had also led to protests from parents.

Historically yoga was an ancient spiritual practice with connections to Hinduism and Buddhism, but there are many different forms of yoga, some of which are more overtly religious than others.


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