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Legal Battle Over Encinitas Yoga Continues

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

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

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

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.

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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.

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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.

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