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Legal Battle Over Encinitas Yoga Continues

— The legal battle over yoga in Encinitas public schools isn't over.

Aired 11/1/13 on KPBS News.

This summer a Superior Court judge ruled the yoga program is not religious and can continue but an Escondido-based attorney filed an appeal.

Third-graders at Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School in Encinitas, Calif., perform chair pose with instructor Kristen McCloskey in December 2012.

The attorney opposing the program has filed an appeal. He and the Encinitas parents he represents argue the program is religious and shouldn't be part of the regular school day.

This summer San Diego County Superior Court Judge John S. Meyer ruled the Encinitas public schools yoga program is not religious and can continue.


Judge's Yoga Decision

Judge's Yoga Decision

Judge John S Meyer found that many of the poses in Encinitas yoga classes are identical to those in Ashtanga yoga. He ruled, however, that the program is still not religious.


But Dean Broyles, president of Escondido’s conservative National Center for Law & Policy, points to the judge's recognition in his decision that some poses used in the classes are identical to those in a form of yoga called Ashtanga.

“So if you’ve got yoga is religious, Ashtanga yoga is itself religious. And then they’re teaching Astanga yoga poses. Then there’s a problem obviously,” he said.

The program started last fall with a $533,000 grant from the Jois Foundation, now called the Sonima Foundation.

School officials have said the classes were designed by district staff and do not have religious content. The school district received a second $1.4 million grant this year to expand the program.

The foundation also gave The Monarch School in San Diego, which serves homeless students, a $62,000 grant last month to start a yoga program of their own.


Avatar for user 'shellymichele54'

shellymichele54 | October 31, 2013 at 10:23 p.m. ― 2 years ago

What on earth is wrong with these parents? Haven't they ever been told 'Tough,' yoga's in and your out...

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Avatar for user 'dialyn'

dialyn | November 1, 2013 at 8:19 a.m. ― 2 years ago

I don't get their faith so fragile and meager that they think a few stretching exercises is going to contaminate their holier-than-thou selves? Aren't there more important things to worry about?

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Avatar for user 'casualobserver'

casualobserver | November 1, 2013 at 9:50 a.m. ― 2 years ago

I guess football should be banned from the schools too since coaches routinely instruct football players to kneel when they are on the sidelines.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | November 1, 2013 at 9:51 a.m. ― 2 years ago

Should we forbid kneeling because genuflection is religious?

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | November 1, 2013 at 9:52 a.m. ― 2 years ago

Wow, same thought as I had Casualobserver.

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Avatar for user 'casualobserver'

casualobserver | November 1, 2013 at 10:52 a.m. ― 2 years ago

Must be that great minds thing benz72.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | November 1, 2013 at 11:01 a.m. ― 2 years ago

Just call it stretching instead.

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Avatar for user 'Abe A'

Abe A | November 1, 2013 at 11:27 a.m. ― 2 years ago

If you read the judge's opinion, the parents sound like real nutjobs.

I had a little laugh reading that part. It starts on page 18, line 18.


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Avatar for user 'DelMarDude'

DelMarDude | November 1, 2013 at 12:32 p.m. ― 2 years ago

Anyone who thinks that having classes for yoga to gain exercise and increase flexibility constitutes a religion is off their rocker. Even the mental aspects of "focus" that Yoga can bring, is not inherently religious. I highly doubt the teachers are bringing anything religious into class, but if they are, then get that on tape.... otherwise, get real, get a life, drop the suit, and let the kids get some exercise instead of mental focus instead of following the rest of American youth down the video game, A.D.D., sedentary unfocused lifestyle leading to diabetes and poor focus at work as an adult.

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | November 1, 2013 at 12:39 p.m. ― 2 years ago

the whiners should learn about it before getting their undies in a bunch

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Avatar for user 'radiofree'

radiofree | November 1, 2013 at 1:45 p.m. ― 2 years ago

Now they've got me paranoid!

It's easy to dismiss this bogus "yoga is religion" complaint as yet another example of religious fanaticism but I suspect there is another facet to this complaint. It could be part of their strategy. When they lose their court case, they will complain about liberal judges supporting foreign religious beliefs over their American Christian traditions. Perhaps it'll be a fundraising campaign aimed at other conservative and religious fanatics asking them to protect Christian beliefs before the liberal judges further erode our way of life.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | November 1, 2013 at 4:03 p.m. ― 2 years ago

DelMarDude - anyone that thinks yoga was not originally religious is totally ignorant. I doubt they are telling these kids to worship gaia, but yoga most certainly has a religious foundation.

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Avatar for user 'wyattskpbs'

wyattskpbs | November 6, 2013 at 1:34 p.m. ― 2 years ago

"Yoga" (asana included) does have religious linkages. However, neither Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, or the Gita verses require, or direct people to worship any particular "God", and even specify that each of us can choose our own sense of higher being, even "science". Attempts to remove religion from yoga, mainly in the US, has spawned a whole spectrum of problems. There has been a systematic removal of the other 7 limbs of classical Patanjali/Ashtanga Yoga, focussing exclusively on the physical (asana). This has made asana into nothing more than stretching, or a sport for some people, which is sad, and dangerous. All of the limbs of Ashtanga Yoga are designed to support each other, and create opportunity for "Self"-growth. Even if you are a Catholic, a 7-Day, or an atheist, I fail to see how this could possibly be bad for youth, or unfair politically to Christians or others.

This issue is part of a political tactic that is connected to a larger sociological tug-of-war. Religious zealots and their political headmasters are losing the tug :)

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Avatar for user 'TailfinNutjob'

TailfinNutjob | November 20, 2013 at 9:27 p.m. ― 2 years ago

Even if the physical practice is used as part of some religion, there is still nothing inherently religious about it. In some religions basic shapes hold religious meaning, but we still teach geometry.

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