Chillax, breath and stretch, uptight California anti-yoga parents (UPDATE: Criss-cross applesauce)

Update – see below.

Yes, this again. In an update to this story about a lawsuit about yoga in schools, the trial resumes this week.

Is yoga instruction religious? San Diego court case may decide | Religion News Service.

In this upscale, seaside suburb just north of San Diego, parents have filed a lawsuit arguing the Encinitas Union School District should do away with the yoga elective because the discipline is inherently religious, and the teaching of it in the public schools violates the First Amendment.

This “represents the clearest case I have observed of the government advancing, endorsing, or promoting religion,” said Dean Broyles, president of the National Center for Law and Policy, a nonprofit based in Escondido, Calif., dedicated to defending religious freedom, traditional marriage and the sanctity of life.

“In America we do not allow the government to pick religious winners and losers, especially when you have a captive audience of very young and impressionable children as we do in our public schools,” he said.

But David A. Peck, a lawyer with Coast Law Group LLP, a firm based in Encinitas, said “the folks who are against the yoga program are conspiracy theorists.”

Peck represents families of more than 150 students who want the yoga program to stay. Together they’ve formed a nonprofit called “YES!” or Yoga for Encinitas Students.

Trainer Brynne Caleda says the program ensures the yoga curriculum meets guidelines set by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, a nonprofit organization that sets the standard for best practices in physical education.

Isn’t there anything else worthwhile to sue over? This is incredibly silly that this could not be resolved by other means. These parents need to chill out and relax. Maybe they need a yoga class.

UPDATE: Judge rules yoga is OK.

A judge is allowing a San Diego-area school district to teach yoga, rejecting the claims of disgruntled parents who called it an effort to promote Eastern religion.

Yoga is a religious practice, but not the way that it is taught by the Encinitas Union School District at its nine campuses, San Diego Superior Court Judge John S. Meyer said in Monday’s ruling.

Meyer said the school district stripped classes of all cultural references including the Sanskrit language. He noted that the lotus position was renamed the “crisscross applesauce” pose.

Check out this clip of Debbie Berebichez talking about her yoga class. (3:51)

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  12 comments for “Chillax, breath and stretch, uptight California anti-yoga parents (UPDATE: Criss-cross applesauce)

  1. spookyparadigm
    June 26, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    Something tells me that after today’s Supreme Court decision, they have bigger fish to fry.

  2. June 26, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    Perhaps the yoga instruction in that school was benign and unconnected to religion, I don’t know, but I do know that there has been an awful (I use that word purposely) amount of abuse by yoga gurus and institutions. Dahn Yoga, for example, is controversial for numerous cases of abuse yet operates in hundreds of US schools. See the following article, and especially the numerous links at the end of it, for numerous examples of abuse related to yoga:

    http://religiouschildabuse.blogspot.ca/2011/03/texas-jury-finds-hindu-guru-guilty-of.html

  3. RDW
    June 26, 2013 at 8:04 PM

    If there’s some kind of religiosity connected to the yoga , I’d have to side with the weirdos on this one. (Christian) If it’s just exercise, I’d say, kids need to exercise, and Yoga is a great way to improve concentration and get a good workout.

  4. Chris Howard
    June 26, 2013 at 8:09 PM

    Yeah, it seems like they could, easily, teach the yoga exercise component with out the teaching the religious component.

  5. Chuck Walworth
    June 26, 2013 at 10:06 PM

    Yoga is a religion? Sounds like a stretch to me!

  6. June 27, 2013 at 3:27 AM

    I think the whole attraction of yoga is that it’s wrapped up in mysticism. There’s so many other ways of getting your exercise that’s not wrapped up in nonsense. There’s a whole world of activities to choose from.

    That said, If you can separate the nonsense out of yoga, I think you’d end up with something resembling ordinary stretching anyway. I’ve read that there’s actually little benefit in stretching beyond like 5 or 10 minutes prior to actual physical activity. So do your stretching, then do some running or walking or swimming or riding or using the machines at the gym, or whatever. Have an instructor there so people don’t get injured.

    But if they are really upset about the instructor, don’t sue, complain, get someone in there who’s qualified as a physical education instructor instead of one who’s spouting nonsense about energy flow and chi and whatever other mystical concepts are being taught.

  7. Pete Attkins
    June 27, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    There are many forms of yoga, most of which should not be taught in schools due to the spiritual disciplines. I imagine the dispute is over the modern westernized form of hatha yoga, which focuses on the physical exercise aspects:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatha_yoga
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoga

    Even so, it is based on chakras, shakti (sacred force), nadis (channels), mudras (symbolic gestures) and other mystical things that some people do not want their children influenced by or associated with.

    Adults have the ability to detect and avoid mysticism, children generally don’t (especially when it’s taught in their school).

  8. Nos482
    June 27, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    “defending religious freedom, traditional marriage and the sanctity of life”
    Sooooo, basically the same people that say, atheism is a religion? OK maybe it’s just me, but this kinda sounds like your average christian right… “We are all for religious freedom, as long as it’s our religion. And you’re free to join.”

  9. Warren
    June 27, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    I hate to admit it, but in this case I really have to side with the parents. There is no scientific evidence that the particular postures used in yoga have any special significance. There is enormous evidence that the postures were chosen for religious reasons.

    I really tried to fund a website that gave any evidence of being non-religious, but even excluding words like “chakra” and “chi” turned up websites that talked about positions which “done with intention will bring joy to your heart.”

    Even the NIH web page on yoga calls it an eastern philosophy, not an exercise. If they want the kids to stretch, great, but I would fight anyone tring to teach my kids that a particular stance will “align their life energies” just as much as I fought my son’s teacher when she started on vitalism in health class.

  10. Allan Z.
    July 4, 2013 at 8:02 AM

    I like to do yoga. I am an atheist. I only do yoga for the physical fitness aspect of the practice. The program I watch when doing yoga does not talk about chakra or anything like that . Most of the common stretches done in gym class or athletic practices are yoga poses or variations on them. It does depend on how the program is set up.

    I believe that a yoga program at a school can be setup to have NO religious aspects what so ever. However. I would need more details on what is being taught to know for sure in this case.

  11. dcon34@gmail.com
    May 12, 2014 at 11:08 PM

    Yoga is way of spirituality, not a religion! Furthermore, spirituality does not mean any there is a belief attached to it. You can be agnostic and practice Yoga, because this type of spirituality is only concerned with that finding the essence of existence, not assuming it can prove the origin. In this way, it is a technology. Neverthless, it can be taught in a way that maintains its essence without imposing anything. If you do an asana, you are not required to believe anything. Even if you meditate or breath a certain way, you are not required to believe anything. Yoga is a form of seeking something beyond limited awareness, it is not a conclusion about anything. In this way, it differs from religion entirely, and altogether.

  12. Haldurson
    May 13, 2014 at 9:58 PM

    Spirituality, spiritualism, anything having to do with spirits, period (other than alcohol) — all imply a belief that rests outside of evidence-based reasoning. You may not link it to a specific mainstream religion, but yes it is a belief system and is not evidence-based. I’m not saying that there isn’t something of value in Yoga, just that when you clothe it in words about spirituality, you are talking nonsense. I have no idea what that even means, and I’m betting that most people don’t. That’s because Spirituality is a poorly defined word that means whatever the person who uses it intends it to mean (and yes, sometimes it does have to do with religion). It’s a really badly defined and loaded word and we ought to stop using it.

    Physics REALLY is concerned with finding out everything it can about existence (I don’t know what you mean by ‘essence’, but I’d assume that ‘everything’ encompasses it). I trust Physics more than I trust spirituality because I actually know what physics means and that it’s evidence-based.

    If what you are trying to say is “Yoga makes you feel good”, then that’s what you should say. I’m sure that’s true for a lot of people, and it’s certainly verifiable simply by asking. But to call it spirituality is not really meaningful.

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