Religious Law

Yoga class at public grade school is akin to dodgeball and not religious, judge says


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A San Diego judge has rejected a challenge to yoga classes in Encinitas public schools, equating the classes to exercise programs like dodgeball.

Judge John Meyer said yoga may be rooted in religion, but the classes in Encinitas are taught without references to Hinduism and they have a secular purpose, report the Associated Press, Fox5 SanDiego and the Los Angeles Times. Meyer said the classes are akin to exercise programs such as dodgeball and there is no government establishment of religion.

The classes teach respect, proper breathing and posture, and “there’s nothing religious about that,” Meyer said.

The classes were funded with a grant by the K.P. Jois Foundation. The National Center for Law & Policy, which sued on behalf of objecting parents, saw a problem with the funding. In a press release, the National Center had emphasized that “the stated goal of the Jois Foundation is to promote the ‘gospel’ of Ashtanga (Hindu beliefs and practices), a deeply religious form of yoga, worldwide.”

Meyer had some concerns about the funding, but said it doesn’t create excessive entanglement with religion because the schools, rather than the foundation, supervise the yoga instructors.

Meyer also said some opponents of the program have apparently gotten inaccurate information off the Internet, according to the Los Angeles Times account. “It’s almost like a trial by Wikipedia, which isn’t what this court does,” Meyer said.

Hat tip to Pat’s Papers.

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