Judge: Yoga Not a Threat to Church-State Separation

He sides with San Diego County district, says yoga not always religious

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 2, 2013 8:38 AM CDT

(Newser) – San Diego County parents are just going to have to live with their kids being taught yoga in school, thanks to a Superior Court judge's ruling yesterday. The California parents were suing the Encinitas Union School District to stop the practice, arguing that yoga is inherently religious and thus should not be taught in public schools. But Judge John S. Meyer explained, for almost two hours, that while yoga does have roots in Indian philosophy, the district was careful to remove all cultural references (instead of the lotus position, students learn "crisscross applesauce").

And then there's this colorful detail: The judge said that many of these parents had come to their opinions about yoga via Internet searches, making the proceedings "almost like a trial by Wikipedia, which isn't what this court does." Ultimately, Meyer sided with the district in deciding that yoga isn't always religious and can, as in this case, be taught for the simple purpose of promoting strength, flexibility, and balance. An attorney for one set of parents says he will likely appeal, the AP reports.

In this Dec. 11, 2012 file photo, students hold their position during a yoga class at Capri Elementary School in Encinitas, Calif.
In this Dec. 11, 2012 file photo, students hold their position during a yoga class at Capri Elementary School in Encinitas, Calif.   (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)
In this Dec. 11, 2012 file photo, Yoga instructor Kristen McCloskey, right, leads a class of third graders at Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School in Encinitas, Calif.
In this Dec. 11, 2012 file photo, Yoga instructor Kristen McCloskey, right, leads a class of third graders at Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School in Encinitas, Calif.   (AP Photo/Gregory Bull,File)
In this Dec. 11, 2012 picture, A class of third graders wind down with the lights out at the end of a yoga class at Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School in Encinitas, Calif.
In this Dec. 11, 2012 picture, A class of third graders wind down with the lights out at the end of a yoga class at Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School in Encinitas, Calif.   (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
In this Dec. 11, 2012 picture, fourth grader Miguel Ruvalcaba holds a pose during a yoga class at Capri Elementary School in Encinitas, Calif.
In this Dec. 11, 2012 picture, fourth grader Miguel Ruvalcaba holds a pose during a yoga class at Capri Elementary School in Encinitas, Calif.   (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
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