The Bishop of Waterford has written to primary schools to warn against teaching yoga and mindfulness
“Not suitable for a parish school setting."
Yoga may be a 5,000 year old practice, but it has seemingly never been more popular.
But while this is the case on a global level, in Waterford, Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan has some other ideas about the ancient indian practise – and has taken it upon himself to warn local primary schools about teaching yoga and mindfulness to their young students.
In the letter, dated last week, on October 10th, Bishop Cullinan said that “yoga is not of Christian origin” and was not suitable for a parish school setting “especially not during religious education time”.
Speaking about the concept of mindfulness, Cullinan said that it has been practised in the Christian tradition since the beginning but “Christian mindfulness is not mindlessness but is meditation based on Christ, emptying the mind of everything unnecessary so that we become aware of the presence and love of Christ.”
The Bishop then went on to quote a homily from Pope Francis in 2015 where he reminded people that “practices like yoga are not capable of opening our hearts up to God”
“You can take a million courses in spirituality, a million courses in yoga, zen and all these things but all of this will never be able to give you freedom.”
The Bishop ended his letter by asking teachers and principals at Catholic schools in his diocese to encourage children to “pray the Rosary” and help them spend time with Jesus in “adoration or in quiet meditation” in the classroom.
According to The Irish Times, the Waterford News & Star newspaper contacted a number of schools in Waterford who confirmed that they received the letter and that both the teachers and the pupils practised yoga and mindfulness at times. None of the schools wished to comment publicly about the Bishop’s comments.
We publish the full letter Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan sent to Waterford schools warning about yoga and mindfulness in the classroomhttps://t.co/h0oPR7sjxT
— Waterford News&Star (@WaterfordNS) 18. oktober 2019
In a statement, the Irish National Teachers' Association said the primary school curriculum allows schools a certain amount of flexibility and autonomy with regard to its implementation.
“The INTO believes that schools are best placed to make decisions about how they implement the curriculum, taking into account their school culture and ethos and the needs of their pupils,” the union said.
Interestingly, in many recent studies, yoga and mindfulness have been shown to improve both physical and mental health in school-age children (ages 6 to 12), with yoga proving to improve both balance, strength, endurance, and aerobic capacity in children. And yoga and mindfulness offer psychological benefits for children as well. In fact, a growing body of research has already shown that yoga can improve focus, memory, self-esteem, academic performance, and classroom behavior, and can even reduce anxiety and stress in children.
Sounds like something you want your children to be doing more of? I know.
And get this – emerging research studies also suggest that yoga can help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by improving the core symptoms of ADHD, including inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
Are YOUR children doing yoga in creche or school? Let us know in the comments or tweet us at @herfamilydotie