Debating the Role of Yoga in Schools: 10 Reasons for Caution

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

We are constantly hearing about the benefits of Yoga for children and adults alike. Many people have been suggesting that Yoga should be taught to children in school. However, some parents just do not feel the same – why? It can be quite a controversial subject that seems to have dredged up mixed opinions on both sides. 

What is the argument on the other end of the scale? Are there any valid reasons why Yoga should not be taught in schools?

10 reasons why Yoga should not be taught in schools:

  1. Yoga can be seen as a spiritual belief system or religion,
  2. In some States, teaching meditative arts in schools is banned,
  3. Yoga does not encourage competitiveness,
  4. Yoga is not high intensity and provides little cardio workout,
  5. Children can become addicted or pre-occupied with Yoga,
  6. Incorrect Yoga poses/practice can lead to injuries,
  7. Yoga can exacerbate existing injuries,
  8. Yoga does not inspire teamwork,
  9. An intense Yoga session can lead to dehydration,
  10. The risk of inexperienced Yoga instructors.

We often read about the advantages of Yoga. So much so that it is sometimes difficult to imagine that there are any disadvantages. 

We already know that Yoga is great for boosting self-confidence and self-esteem in children (and adults, too). It is also good for building muscle strength and providing children with a healthy outlet for stress and frustration. On top of that, Yoga is an all-inclusive activity, which means that no kids feel left out, but you probably know all of that already. What you do not know much about is the disadvantages of teaching Yoga in schools. 

While the advantages seem to outweigh the disadvantages, the reasons why Yoga should not be taught in schools cannot be overlooked. Let’s take a closer look at each of these reasons so that you can decide how you feel about Yoga being taught in schools for yourself.

Valid Reasons Why Yoga Should Not Be Taught at School.

Imagine this…Your child comes home from school only to announce that soon Yoga will be a class that they can take instead of a regular gym class. You know of the advantages of Yoga being taught in schools, but what are the disadvantages? How do you feel about your child being exposed to Yoga teachings? Do you even know enough to form an opinion either way?  

It is best to be in the know, and this is the very reason why so many parents and teachers seek out information on both the advantages and disadvantages of Yoga. In my time practicing Yoga, I have heard the debate come up time and again; is Yoga really appropriate in a school environment?  

Below are just 10 reasons why it is not a great idea to teach Yoga in schools.

1. Yoga should not be taught in schools for religious reasons. 

In some States, Christian schools have boycotted the notion of teaching Yoga to school children. The belief is that Yoga promotes a non-Christian way of life. Besides, in many schools, any form of religious schooling or studies is no longer allowed. 

It stands to reason that if you are Christian or of another faith and believe that Yoga is a spiritual teaching, that you might not want your children being taught it in school. Many schools and parents argue that because Yoga is considered a religious concept, it has no place in a school classroom. 

2. Yoga classes in schools is banned in some states.

According to the Alabama State Board of Education’s Administrative Code, Yoga cannot be taught in schools. It is not just Yoga that cannot be taught in schools. The code also disallows the teaching of any other guided imagery or meditative practices to school children. 

According to the ban, it is not legal to teach children any form of dissociative mental states and techniques. Yoga was listed as an inappropriate form of physical education, and some states across the US follow suit. For this reason, Yoga might not be possible at your child’s school.  

3. There is a lack of competitiveness in Yoga.

Competitiveness is actually quite a controversial topic in the schooling world. Some parents believe in promoting competition in order to drive students to achieve more and to develop strategic teamwork skills. However, other parents oppose competitiveness and feel that children should be encouraged to participate, despite the outcome. 

For parents who place importance on competition, Yoga might not seem like a good idea. Yoga is a practice that can be done as a group, but individuals work at their own pace and without comparing their progress to others. It is all a personal experience and journey with Yoga, and children are not required to be remotely competitive with each other in order to participate. 

4. Yoga provides kids with little cardio workout.

Gym classes and extramural sport activities for children are typically aimed at providing some form of cardio workout. This is to keep the heart healthy as well as to help children maintain a healthy weight. Yoga does provide a full-body workout, but it is not considered cardio. 

The focus of Yoga poses and stretches is to strengthen and tone all major muscle groups. While weight loss or maintenance is possible, it is not as effective as cardio. The argument is that schools should focus on introducing children to cardio workouts for gym classes.

5. Yoga presents a risk of becoming addicted or pre-occupied.

There is no denying that Yoga is a fun activity for children, and often they become quite addicted to the practice. Children starting out with the basics are typically engrossed in practicing until they can master certain poses or progress to more difficult or complex poses. 

Some teachers and parents may think that this could pose a risk to student’s concentration levels. Some might even fear that instead of doing homework or after-school sports, children will become fixated on practicing their Yoga poses instead. 

6. Incorrect Yoga poses can lead to injuries.

The reality is that kids can get hurt while practicing Yoga. Much like any sport, doing things incorrectly can lead to injury. Because Yoga involves unusual poses and stretches (movements that the body is not used to), doing them improperly can lead to muscle strains. Children can also lose balance and hurt themselves during Yoga practice. Some parents and teachers worry that children might become injured or hurt while practicing.

7. Yoga presents the risk of exacerbating existing injuries.

Unfortunately, while Yoga has a plethora of health benefits, it can also contribute to exacerbating existing injuries. 

The trouble with teaching Yoga in school is that kids might not realize that an old injury can return if they are not careful. Without careful instruction and modification of certain poses, Yoga can cause old injuries, aches and pains to “niggle”. Yoga is a full-body workout, and if children have pre-existing injuries, this may exclude them from practice or put them in a position where their injuries are exacerbated.

8. Yoga does not promote team work and socializing.

While most school sports and physical education classes are focused on improving fitness and building teamwork, Yoga is not. 

Yoga is a practice that can be done as a group, but it really focuses on the individual. Children in classes will not need to interact or work with other students during practices. In some schools and households, it is believed that teamwork should be promoted and that children should be encouraged to socialize while participating in sports. This can result in much debate about whether or not Yoga is ideal for the school environment. 

9. The risk of dehydration.

It is fairly easy for children to get dehydrated while practicing Yoga as they might not notice that they are exerting themselves as much as they are. Encouraging children to bring water bottles to class and to hydrate continuously might prove challenging. Some parents and teachers might worry that children might suffer dehydration if they overexert themselves in a Yoga class

10. The risk of inexperienced Yoga teachers.

There is a general fear that schools might incorporate Yoga in the school day and make use of existing gym teachers and sports coaches to teach Yoga. Yoga should only be taught by a certified and experienced instructor to ensure that injury risk is minimized and that the real essence of Yoga is fully understood. This might be difficult or even costly for schools to ensure that instructors are available for each grade and class with access to Yoga training. 

Last Word

It really comes down to parents and school officials (and laws, of course) to determine if the art of Yoga will add value to children’s life or not. While some parents do not seem to see the harm, others are outspoken about it being against their beliefs. As a result, many schools do not offer it as an option. Anyhow, we hope this article helps you have a more informed opinion on the matter.

JC Franco

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He mainly focuses on content about faith, spirituality, personal growth, finance, and sports. He graduated from Mercyhurst University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business, majoring in Marketing. He is a certified tennis instructor who teaches in the New York City Metropolitan area. In terms of finance, he has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.