Guru's Breathing Exercises Taught in Public School

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's organization is spreading his message to children

NBC Bay Area Local News, California/December 7, 2009

While many in the Bay Area wouldn't want their children lured into religious practice in a public school classroom, they may have their blinders on when it comes to the efforts of Youth Empowerment Services.

The organization has been reaching out to students at Overfelt High School in San Jose in order to introduce children to yoga and special breathing techniques.

And while you might not think that yoga is a spiritual practice, as it has been so effectively commercialized and assimilated into the materialistic yuppie lifestyle, it has its roots in Hindu religious practice.

And YES is a division of the International Association for Human Values founded by Indian guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

The organization reaches out almost exclusively to vulnerable populations, such as disaster victims - like Scientology, it descended on New York City in the wake of the September 11th, 2001 tragedy offering free training in its spiritual practices.

Another population vulnerable to suggestion? Children, especially children suffering from the affliction of poverty and environmental violence.

Back in 2004, the San Francisco Unified School district ceased a program by well-known Scientology front organization Narconon to teach children about the dangers of drug abuse -- and the wildly unscientific methods that the church recommends to combat it, such as multivitamins and trips to the sauna.

So while area civil libertarians might cluck in disapproval over evangelical Christians trying to invade classrooms in the flyover states, they might also look a little closer to home where the new age fervor for eastern spiritual practices gets a free pass.

Jackson West doesn't doubt that the IAHV has done some good things, he would just prefer that they don't proselytize to children on the public dime.

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