Although I am not inherently opposed to the practice of Yoga, I am certainly no fan. You would understand why had you ever had the unfortunate opportunity to watch me struggle in a yoga class. To witness my attempt to contort into the various shapes and forms required by this fitness regime would be painful for innocent bystanders to endure. With that being said, I was somewhat taken aback by a news story I recently ran across.

Lawsuit to Stop Yoga in School

The parents of two California students of the Encinitas Unified School District near San Diego have sued to enjoin the teaching of yoga classes at their children’s school because of the Eastern religious values the practice supposedly promotes. The school district has assured parents that the Ashtanga yoga taught at their schools does not promote or teach any religion, and it was simply a means to expand the District’s present physical education curriculum.

The yoga program came about when the district received a $533,000 grant from the Jois Foundation which would allow the school district to allocate 60 minutes of physical education time per week to a yoga class to be taught by a Jois foundation certified instructor. The foundation appears to stand for health and wellness principles, and their website doesn’t mention anything about religion.

Ashtanga Yoga

That being said, Dean Broyles, head of the National Center on Law and Policy and attorney for the parents filed the lawsuit Wednesday asserting “Ashtanga yoga is a religious-based yoga, and if we are separating church and state, we can’t pick and choose religious favorites.”

Though this seems a bit of a stretch to me, it appears that parents nationwide are taking issue with separation of church and state in schools and lawsuits are popping up over issues such as evolution being taught in the classroom to student prayer groups.

As mentioned above, this particular lawsuit is not seeking monetary compensation but instead seeks to eliminate the yoga program. Apparently the parents take issue with the actions of instructors such as greeting students with “Namaste” and teaching poses which are said to represent forms of worship to Hindu deities.
The school has allowed for children and parents to opt out of the program though allegedly those students that choose not to participate have been subjected to bullying. It seems to me that this is a problem for parents to resolve amongst one another instead of using the court as a venue to air their grievances.

After weighing both sides of the argument, I have to agree with Superintendent of the District in that this suit seems unfounded. In a time when many parents would rather give their child a video game or a movie to watch instead of encouraging them to get out and ride their bikes, I praise an educational establishment that is willing to go outside of the box in order to provide students with an exercise regiment that may be more appealing and fun than the traditional P.E. class that I remember being forced to take