Judge John Meyer ruled against Christian conservative parents who filed a lawsuit against Encinitas School District, for teaching yoga to students. Parents claimed that yoga is a Hindu religion and it should not be taught in public schools, citing provisions of article I, §4, article XVI, § 5, and article IX, §8 of the California Constitution (my interpretation of their true grievance — Yoga is not in line with their Christian beliefs and should remain outside public schools). After hearing all arguments, Judge Meyer ruled that yoga is non-religious and is allowed to be taught in public schools. Plaintiffs failed to show evidence that yoga classes were nothing more than exercise.
Last February, a complaint was filed on behalf of Stephen and Jennifer Sedlock, by Dean Broyles of the conservative-Christian National Center for Law and Policy. The couple claimed that students who opt out of the yoga instruction are being denied the minimum amount of physical education class time guaranteed under state law and asked for classes to stop. The judge’s ruling could set a precedent for future cases as yoga continues to expand in other schools. Local law firms have offered their services pro-bono to the school district in case there is an appeal.
The yoga program at the Encinitas School District is being funded by a $533,000 grant from the K.P. Jois Foundation and is based in Ashtanga style yoga, which did originate in India. But there is nothing religious in any Ashtanga yoga class I ever went to. There are already studies that show kids practicing yoga are more relaxed and able to focus. The non-profit is also conducting a three-year study on the effects of yoga on school kids.