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Swedish school reported over 'holy' yoga lessons

Swedish school reported over 'holy' yoga lessons

Published: 25 May 2012 12:24 GMT+02:00
Updated: 25 May 2012 12:24 GMT+02:00

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.

Oliver Gee

Follow Oliver on Twitter here

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Your comments about this article

13:01 May 25, 2012 by y2sunil
Just because Hindus use Om does not make it their property. It is universal.

It is like saying since Newton discovered gravitation, gravitation is a jew.

A lot of scientific experiments are done on the influence of sounds like Om on the body. Om is as scientific as gravitation or for that matter any other science.

Hindus discovered Om and used it for their benefit and followed by Buddhists.
13:27 May 25, 2012 by Scepticion
Replace Om with Hmm, the latter is a Swedish invention, works as well to vibrate the body...
13:56 May 25, 2012 by Slash
@Y2sunil....

I guess you did not understand the article..hindus did not complain for using the word 'OM', this complaint was made by someone else who had objection thinking that it is a religious word.....

@scepticion...

I like your sense of humour...lol
14:36 May 25, 2012 by Rishonim
Umm Kulthum was a fantastic singer ;-)
14:40 May 25, 2012 by adelepao
If I invented a religion and chose a fork as a symbol of everything holy, god, meaning of life and what not, would that mean forks should be banned from schools?
15:29 May 25, 2012 by Thebinary1
I hereby declare that "Pizza & Spaghetti" should be banned from school caffeterias because of its close relationship to the daily ritual the Italians practice in their daily activities - which qualifies as a religion.

The same applies to "Kebabs" because of its close relationship to the religion of the Middle East.

Not to mention "Hamburgers & Hot Dogs" - a core feature in the Religion of America.

Förlåt lilla Svensson - igen korv för dig!

On the bright side, its amazing what retards this world manages to produce!
16:14 May 25, 2012 by Youdee
I don't get it. Yoga is NOT a religion. It's a took kit for daily living. Duh...
16:37 May 25, 2012 by Vermaldeehide
@Youdee - You get it, you just don't want to accept that these people are that stupid and I don't blame you.

They say the same thing about the Tao de Ching...
16:56 May 25, 2012 by Puffin
Lucky kids being able to do yoga for gym lesson - beats running around a muddly field being hit with a wooden hockey stick
17:05 May 25, 2012 by engagebrain
3:01 May 25, 2012 by y2sunil wrote 'It is like saying since Newton discovered gravitation, gravitation is a jew'

Newton was not jewish - did you mean Einstein.

The religious problem could be avoided by simply not saying OM when doing yoga.
17:28 May 25, 2012 by Solarsystem
Hinduism is more of a philosophy than a religion . . . . it is a way of life . . . .

Why target OM in yoga . . . . . take the good from the rest of the world, be it any religion or philosophy
17:58 May 25, 2012 by TheWatchman
@Solarsystem

Isn't that Buddhism? I thought Hinduism had multiple gods. I could be mistaken however.
17:59 May 25, 2012 by james_g
How in god's (?) name is saying "OM" religious? I just said it - twice, in fact - and nothing happened whatsoever!
18:23 May 25, 2012 by y2sunil
@engagebrain Well I can rephrase it by saying just 'cos Einstein discovered theory of relativity, it cannot be termed as jewish.

If it is scientific and as well religious then banning it just merely 'cos it religious isn't a right way.

I know many christians say "Amen" instead of "Om" as they sound similar. Atheists shouldn't have any problem as they accept science and they can follow whatever the scientific community establishes.

@TheWatchman In Hinduism u r at liberty to have ur own God also or else u can be a good Hindu even if u don't believe in God as eventually at once stage of ur progress u realize that all urs beliefs are only illusion. It is only the non duality that exists.
18:36 May 25, 2012 by Swedishmyth
Conflict between people's interests are impossible to avoid when force is used. Everyone is forced to pay into the public school system, but not everyone has the same ideas and preferences.
19:39 May 25, 2012 by StockholmSam
Just another in a long list of examples where stupid, ignorant parents push dedicated, caring teachers out of schools. Stop the madness. Recognize yoga classes as a chance for your child to experience something in the world that is beyond gravad lax and dill potatoes. In fact, I cannot think of anything that Sweden has created that is as far-reaching and as popular throughout the world as yoga. And if all the reports of students getting violent or depressed due to all the pressures of studies are accurate, then kids need more exposure to yoga, not less.
20:24 May 25, 2012 by Navras
Karma,dharma,yoga and nirvana(moksha) are larger than religion.

As a hindu and proud world citizen,I feel happy to adopt

biblical,Islamic and jewish traditions

The school inspector have got it wrong this time;he should have done some research on it. Aum is a very soothing frequency mixture which has nothing to with religion..Enjoy the chant .But the students should be consulted if they feel it is against their norms
21:56 May 25, 2012 by dizzymoe33
Gee wiz I thought people raising a stink here in the States about saying "Merry Christmas" instead of saying "Happy Holidays" was bad!!! I still say "Merry Christmas" because that is what the majority of my Country's faith was based on the rest can go back to where they came from if they don't like it!!
21:59 May 25, 2012 by Dazzler
Im starting to think these people that complain about every little thing need to be dragged to town square and curb stomped repeatedly.
22:50 May 25, 2012 by colombianska_tjej
Agree with Dazzler.

Simply cannot believe someone is complaining for this.
08:12 May 26, 2012 by vijay5481
No one can be converted to and from Hinduism, which is basically Sanatan dharma, which is basically a way of living life, which means some thing which was from start of universe,.. it doesn't required to pray all the gods we have.. many Hindus even don't go to temple even then they are hindu.

and for OM read:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Om
08:16 May 26, 2012 by fxrider
@ adelepao : Something that looks like fork is already a religious symbol you got to think of something else perhaps a spoon :)

I wonder if its been scientifically proven if "Om chant works" and that it can't be replaced with anything else for yoga?
08:20 May 26, 2012 by vijay5481
The other point is its not that required for Yoga.. so ppl can be warned for that.. but should continue with Yoga thing.
10:47 May 26, 2012 by Grokh
if it were something islamic then they would label it racism immediately, its never racism when its against other religions.

some equality would be nice, if all religions are to be treated with equal disrespect for being idiotic =D
11:17 May 26, 2012 by Freelife
Yoga can be practiced without those holy chanting, can't it be?

Or.. If a humming of something as a part of mediation is necessary then I don't see it as a problem even it is religious.

Are there equivalents in Christianity, Atheism, Islam etc etc etc which can be used instead of Hindu Om humming?

When I wish to clam myself just say ummmmmmmmm.. :) Oops! is "umm" belong to some religion too? I wonder.!
16:37 May 26, 2012 by entry
@13:27 May 25, 2012 by Scepticion

"Replace Om with Hmm, the latter is a Swedish invention, works as well to vibrate the body... "

Good solution!

If Yoga had ties to Christianity many of the people defending the Yoga inclusive position would be on the other side of the fence arguing that it should be no where near a school.
09:49 May 27, 2012 by scandiland
Millions of people around the world like to meditate. Is the yoga practice part of a particular curriculum taught in the school? Lucky students to learn something interesting...
00:38 May 28, 2012 by Trenatos
If all they did was use the sound while meditating, then nothing to it.

If they were also pushing Indian beliefs with the yoga classes, then that is an issue (Many yoga instructors do, without even thinking about it, which is possible happened here.)
02:41 May 28, 2012 by J Jack
Yoga is best done on Stand Up Paddle boards with hot chicks in warm places .. sounds don't even come into it. No one in India cares about Yoga in Sweden unless there's money to be made. I'm proud that Swedish schools offer Yoga for free.
12:16 May 28, 2012 by Amardeep Mehta
Yoga is good for mental as well as physical health. Saying om isn't religious. It increases your energy inside along with concentration. Om is for peace of mind! Good things should be adopted no matter which religion of country it belongs from!
13:00 May 28, 2012 by Solarsystem
@ The Watchman,

Buddhism is a derivative of Hinduism (Now I don't make any 'claims' for that). Lord Siddhattha Gautama Buddha was a Hindu king. So . . . both the religions have similar philosophy . . . . . with Buddhism being 'newer' among the two.
18:21 May 29, 2012 by Tim Temple
The word "Om" is actually a deliberate misspelling of the god's name "Aum." Look it up. Opening your mind and calling "Aum" is worship. That is a religion.

In Yoga, one of the poses is sometimes called "the Sun salute." It actually is Sun worship and the Sun is supposed to be the god, "Mithra." Again, look it up.

Yoga comes from Shaman worship of Nature as a spiritual power or god. The original Shaman worship was too noisy for city life, so they invented a quiet form of Nature worship. This is still a religion.

Christianity is also supernatural and much more powerful than the demons behind these other religions. We can heal the sick, cast out these demons, cause the blind to see and even cause people to come back to life. And the God who makes all this possible loves us.
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