Last Wednesday's civil rights lawsuit against the Encinitas Union School District in San Diego County is aimed at putting a stop to teaching yoga in Public Schools on the grounds that yoga represents religious indoctrination and a violation of the first amendment.
Does teaching children yoga promote Hinduism?
The goal of yoga for kids is not to convert children to Hindu philosophy and beliefs, but rather to help our youth develop a healthy lifestyle early on in their formative lives.
Yoga is as modern as it is ancient, and is one of the most widely practiced forms of exercise in the world; yoga for kids is merely part of an effort to teach children the benefits of exercise and breathing, and to show them how to incorporate a healthy activity into their daily lives.
Indeed, yoga for children has surged in popularity, and numerous schools across the nation, including Pacific Palisades, California are including yoga in their physical education curriculum with successful results.
Children who practice yoga in school are learning skills that will help them in every day life, such as staying calm while coping with anything from tests to peer pressure.
Amid the turbulence of our modern technologically advanced society, yoga for kids is the ideal way for children to naturally unwind and obtain physical activity at the same time.
The yoga program taught at the Encinitas Union School District follows the Presidential Fitness Standards, and there is no dispute as to the physical and mental health benefits of the yoga program taught there.
Rather, the issue revolves around the question of separation of church and state.
Underlying the controversy is the source of funding for the Encinitas yoga program.
It is supported by a grant from the Jois Foundation, a non-profit organization founded in memory of the father of Ashtanga yoga, Krishna Pattabhi Jois.
Thus, the real concern is whether the partnership between the Jois Foundation and the Encinitas School District could involve the State of California in the endorsement of religious beliefs and practices, which is forbidden under California and Federal Law.