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Judge: yoga instruction in public schools does not violate 1st Amendment

July 02, 2013

A California superior court judge has ruled that instruction in Ashtanga yoga in a public elementary school does not violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

Students “were being taught to thank the sun for their lives and the warmth that it brought, the life that it brought to the earth and they were told to do that right before they did their sun salutation exercise,” said a parent who was part of the lawsuit against the Encinitas Union School District (EUSD).

Judge John Meyer ruled that although yoga is rooted in Hinduism, the program was constitutional because religious references were removed from the program, making the yoga instruction akin to a physical education class.

Some students, said a University of Indiana religious studies professor who testified on behalf of the plaintiffs, “stayed in the program and chanted Om, used ‘praying hands’ and ‘wisdom’ gestures … that symbolize union with the divine, and used Sanskrit terminology--such as Namaste, or ‘I bow to the god within you,’ even after EUSD administrators ordered instructors to stop teaching some of these practices in response to parent complaints.”


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  • Posted by: garedawg - Jul. 02, 2013 7:52 PM ET USA

    I took a yoga class after back surgery, and it was great. At least in my class, there was nothing in conflict with Christianity.

  • Posted by: Defender - Jul. 02, 2013 10:36 AM ET USA

    At least one Jesuit university (LMU) has a Master of Arts in Yoga Studies graduate program and how about Tai Chi is a Jesuit high school?