Swedish school reported over 'holy' yoga lessons
Published: 25 May 12 12:24 CET
The "om" chant featured in yoga lessons at a Stockholm school has prompted a complaint calling for the lessons to be banned because of the term's ties to the Hindu religion.
"Schools should be free from religious compenents, according the the education act," reads the complaint filed with the Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen).
"The law has led the Schools Inspectorate to criticize graduation ceremonies in church, but not when one practices yoga in school."
The complaint cites recent Swedish media reports featuring teachers and students who praised the yoga lessons offered at the Östermalm school in Stockholm and explained how the word “om” creates “physical vibrations in the body”.
During the spring, the school has experimented with the new subject from kindergarten through to grade six.
Once a week, an instructor teaches the students yoga, the ancient meditative discipline which originated in India.
However, the complaint claims that the syllable “om” is the most sacred syllable in the whole of the Hindu religion, and even in Buddhism, and represents the holy trinity of the Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
The complaint also references Hindu literature, which explains that “om” has deeply religious connotations related to thought, knowledge and insight.
As a result, argues the complainant, yoga shouldn't be allowed to be taught in Swedish schools.
“I ask therefore that the Schools Inspectorate examine whether yoga at Östermalm school of Stockholm, and at other schools in the country where yoga is practiced, is a religious component and should be forbidden,” reads the complaint.
The letter also demanded more information about whether the students have a choice in participating, and whether parents are being informed of this “religious component”.
Following the complaint, the agency has sent a request to education officials with the city of Stockholm asking them to look into the matter
Education officials have been given until the May 29th to submit their response to the complaint.
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