Update: Parents Threaten Lawsuit unless Encinitas Yoga Program Stops

Encinitas Yoga

For a backdrop of this story, click here.

Oh boy….this situation definitely seems to be heating up. In the beginning, there were just complaints…now it seems there might actually be civil action. 

From North county Times:

The Encinitas Union School District is under threat of lawsuit from disgruntled parents who claim that the Encinitas Yoga program for children is religious indoctrination.

The group’s lawyer sent an email to Tim Baird, the Superintendent, claiming the program is unconstitutional and that they may initiate “a legal course of action” if it is not discontinued. 

Dean Broyles, the attorney for the group, had this to say:

“There’s a deep concern that the Encinitas Union School District is using taxpayer resources to promote Ashtanga yoga and Hinduism, a religion system of beliefs and practices,” 

Dean Broyles is president of The National Center for Law and Policy, a right wing legal group. From their website: 

The National Center for Law & Policy (NCLP) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) legal defense organization which focuses on the protection and promotion of religious freedom, the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, parental rights, and other civil liberties.

The whole bit about “sanctity of life, traditional marriage” definitely speaks to republicanism and Christianity. This confirmed my initial suspicion that religion was driving the parents to complain. 

To Some Degree, their Concerns are Justified

Ashtanga is a particularly spiritual practice; it involves rituals and meditation. However, I doubt they are teaching rituals in a public space. Even with the rituals in the normal practice many practitioners do not feel they are betraying their religion. Indeed, many of the people on the board of the Jois Foundation are of different faiths. Their Yoga practice has no bearing on their own beliefs. 

I can understand that the parents feel a little mistrust for something that has a background of being religious or spiritual, but they are taking it too far. There is no Hinduism in this physical practice- save for it’s historical roots. Meditation is a practice of the mind, calming the waves of restlessness to allow inner harmony to prevail.

For the sake of  the kids, I hope that they decide to lay off. Yoga could make the children much more calm and their school “careers” more successful. 

What would you say to the parents who are threatening a lawsuit? Do you agree? 

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Matt Caron
Matt is an enthusiastic Yoga teacher and life voyager. He enjoys reading, writing, practicing and meditating. He is the owner and editor in chief of theyogablog.com, a site created with the thought process of bringing together the Yoga community in a collaborative way. Matt strives to inspire conscious living and conscious dialogue; not only for others, but for himself.

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  • ynottonycom

    Yoga (as a whole) is itself a mystical seeking of the direct experience of inner realities or truths. However, Yoga itself is not telling an aspirant what religion to follow. It is involved with training in the process of working with senses, body, breath, and mind, such that the inner can be experienced directly (See the description of Yoga in Yoga Sutra 1.2 and the description of the seer in Yoga Sutra 1.3). Yoga deals with the Esoteric, rather than the Exoteric. In this light, some of the practices of Yoga are contained within religions, while religion is not contained within Yoga. . . .. . …..

    One branch of Yoga is Hatha Yoga (the practice of the physical postures). Hatha yoga attempts to balance mind and body via physical postures and exercises (asanas), controlled breathing, and the calming of the mind through relaxation and meditation. The physical postures teach poise, balance & strength and were originally (and still) practiced to improve the body’s physical health and clear the mind.

    It seems that ignorance (a state of being uninformed / lack of knowledge) and fear (an emotion induced by a perceived threat) have entered the minds of the Encinitas parents.

    Therefore,perhaps instead of shooting down the unknown, the parents should attend the Encinitas School yoga classes and confront and remove their own personal fears and ignorance..

  • Pingback: Sign the Petition to Protect Children's Yoga Program In Encinitas Schools - theyogablog.com | theyogablog.com

  • yogini

    If i were a parent, I’d ask to sit in on a couple classes. Maybe a couple classes can be videotaped and shown to parents? I understand the concern of parents because ashtanga yoga teaches mind, body and spirit. From my years of experience in different types of yoga, there are teachers who don’t focus on the spiritual aspects and instead focus on the postures and breathing. The postures and breathing are great exercise and are fabulous tools for kids to learn–developing self control and motor skills to stand in different positions, learning to breathe and be calm for a few minutes when needed. What kid couldn’t use these tools? However, if a teacher were telling my kid to follow her inner guiding light or open her heart to the great Universe of Love, I’d pull him/her out of class. It’s not that these are bad things, it’s simply that it’s MY job as a parent to guide my child’s spiritual journey until he/she steps out on their own.

  • Julie B

    FYI: The taxpayers are not paying for this. The program is a grant from Jois Yoga foundation.

  • Rob Taylor

    It’s interesting that the argument surrounding keeping religion out of the class is typically only presented when the religion is anything aside from Christianity. I know at Parkdale Lane, for instance, they definitely still recite the pledge of allegiance. I am OK with that even though “One nation under God” necessarily excludes all poly-theistic belief systems.

    Try to take the pledge away or even modify it, and these same groups would be threatening legal action to keep *that* religious reference in the schools.

    Too bad there wasn’t a way that our children could learn to breath deeply and become more tolerant of other beliefs without feeling like their own were being threatened.

  • EloiseGM

    It’s one thing to attend Ashtanga Yoga class, take what you like from the Teacher, (the exercise) and leave the rest. (the spiritual rituals).. but , we are concerned, when Children are involved (ages 4-12), because, they don’t have the same level of discernment as adults. In general, American Society, tends to over-protect children & the weak… that’s a good thing! Yoga is not for Children, even in India. And I think, they know more than we do about it.

  • http://twitter.com/topsecretsara Sara Allen

    This is so sad…parents should be jumping for joy that these tools are being taught. You can tell that none of the parents making noise have ever practiced yoga. This is just like Footloose where they ban dance from the town. I wish I had known about yoga around 7th grade when my mind was full of angst. Anyone of any shape or size can feel comfortable being active through yoga. Yoga is even better for little kids who may need help developing motor skills. The spiritual side of yoga is so light that it should not offend people. A child can’t process spirituality in the first place. You need life experience to add spiritual meaning to something. Telling a child to, “shine their light” or some other line is just meant to be welcoming and encouraging.