It is strange, but yoga bullies in school have led to a lawsuit against a California school, according to a Feb. 23 Inquisitor report. A school yoga program seems innocent enough. However, in one San Diego-area district parents are fighting back calling it an infringement on their children's religious freedom.
Attorney for plaintiffs Stephen and Jennifer Sedlock Dean Broyles said,
"EUSD's Ashtanga yoga program represents a serious breach of the public trust. Compliance with the clear requirements of law is not optional or discretionary.This is frankly the clearest case of the state trampling on the religious freedom rights of citizens that I have personally witnessed in my 18 years of practice as a constitutional attorney."
Apparently, Ashtanga yoga is a central tenant of Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist religions. However, yoga can be more than a religious practice. In fact, yoga is a healthy exercise that does not have to have anything to do with religion. Superintendent Timothy B. Baird said that the district is the first in the nation to have full-time yoga instructors at school. The program is funded by a grant from the Jois Foundation.
Those students who have opted out of the yoga classes in the Encinitas school district have had to deal with yoga bullies in school making fun of them for not participating making this a case of not only religious freedom, but also of instances of bullying in schools.
Apparently the other yoga bullies in school include the yoga instructors themselves, according to the lawsuit. It seems they are leading students in Ashtanga yoga, which is a religious based practice of yoga.
It seems that the solution here did not have to be a lawsuit. The school and its instructors could have simply chosen to lead students in the practice of another style of yoga that does not include religious dogma. Yoga is a healthy exercise that is good for both the body and the mind.
"We're not teaching religion. We teach a very mainstream physical fitness program that happens to incorporate yoga into it. It's part of our overall wellness program. The vast majority of students and parents support it."
In fact, school officials have noticed that students have been calmer since the practice of yoga has been introduced in their schools. Students even use the calming breathing techniques to de-stress before tests.