Yoga class in school is not the same as teaching religion, California judge rules
A California judge refused on Monday to block the teaching of yoga as part of a public school’s physical fitness program, rejecting parents’ claims that the classes were an unconstitutional promotion of Eastern religions.
Judge John Meyer acknowledged that yoga “at its roots is religious” but added that the modern practice of yoga, despite its origins in Hindu philosophy, is deeply engrained in secular U.S. society and “is a distinctly American cultural phenomenon.”
He also said the Encinitas Unified School District had developed its own version of yoga that was not religious but distinct and separate from Ashtanga yoga.
“A reasonable student would not objectively perceive that Encinitas School District yoga does advance or promote religion,” he said.
While school district officials were pleased by the ruling, the lawyer for the parents said they probably will appeal.
“If yoga is a religion and has religious aspects, it doesn’t belong in the public schools,” said Dean Broyles, who represents Stephen and Jennifer Sedlock, whose two children opted out of yoga for physical education. “There is a consistent anti-Christian bias in these cases and a pro-Eastern or strange religion bias.”