Parents Sue School District for Offering Yoga Classes

February 22, 2013  |  
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We’re big fans of yoga here at MommyNoire, so we were pretty surprised to hear that parents of two elementary school students are suing the Encinitas Unified School District for offering it. According to Reuters, the parents feel the program promotes Hinduism, therefore violating separation of church and state. They also feel there aren’t sufficient physical education options available for children who exercise their right to opt out, and when they do opt out, they get bullied. They are not seeking any monetary compensation.

The parents filing the suit are specifically concerned the namaste greeting, posters they feel details Hindu beliefs and certain poses they say worship Hindu deities.

The school district, located near San Diego, began offering Ashtanga yoga classes in September as part of their physical education program, thanks to a $533,000 grant from the Jois Foundation. Their program dedicates 60 of the 100 weekly minutes of phys ed to yoga.

The National Center on Law and Policy filed the suit on behalf of the parents. One lawyer says the schools’ yoga program is rooted in religious practices and therefore illegal for a public school; he also recounted a tale of a little girl who was told her parents were stupid for prohibiting her from participating in yoga. The school’s lawyers argue they worked closely with parents when developing their program and that they are not forcing children to believe anything. The primary focus is helping children focus in class and reap the numerous health benefits of yoga.

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  • Gaviney

    It’s the xenophobic people who have preconceived notions of things without ever bothering to research or check it out themselves.

  • it originates in Hinduism. it’s a form of meditation and exercise combined. One does not have to be HIndu to practice and enjoy the health benefits. There are many levels of yoga. Do what is right for you and don’t let your pastor dictate your life. btw, I am an Indian Christian and my clergyman would be in class w/me. I hope this clarifies your dilemma.

  • Lala

    When I started a regular Yoga practice years, my pastor told me that I should consider stopping because it was tied to a religion that was not ours…..hmmm….how exactly is yoga tied to religion? I wasn’t praying to anyone, nor was I chanting or offering worship to someone else’s ‘god’ – the total opposite, I learned how to sit still and mediate, and how that opened me up spiritually – I started to heal my body from the inside out, which no medicine was ever able to do – and my mind/body/soul connection was ridiculous – clearly things that I didn’t achieve when I was worshiping ‘god’ as I was being taught. So I’m giving this up because? Yeah, o.k. Can we please stop the foolishness people!! When you bring me spiritual or scientific proof that I am insulting ‘your god’ by practicing yoga, I may consider stopping……Ignorance I tell you.