Encinitas, CA — A group of parents in the Encinitas Union School District are considering suing after their children were offered free yoga lessons through the school.
The parents are considering legal action because they believe the yoga lessons are a form of religious indoctrination, reports The North County Times.
Attorney Dean Broyles, who represents the parents, contacted Superintendent Tim Baird by email on October 12, saying that the program is unconstitutional. Broyles also warned that he may initiate “a legal course of action” if the district doesn’t end the program.
Broyles has declined discussing what the legal action could entail, but stated that the group is considering all legal actions. Broyles added:
“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.”
Students are halve of the district’s nine schools started the program last month, while the other schools will get their yoga classes in January.
The program is being paid for by a $533,000 grant from the Jois Foundation. The foundation is a nonprofit organization that promotes the practice of Ashtanga yoga around the world.
Yahoo! News notes that the yoga classes involve traditional eastern breathing techniques and poses. The district has chosen the teachers and sets the curriculum for the classes, while the foundation is charged with training the teachers.
Superintendent Baird stated that the district has also removed any religious content from the classes. Mary Eady, who took her son out of the yoga classes, disagrees. Eady stated:
“I think that they really would like to think that, but I don’t think that, in actuality, it has been done. There’s really a lot of unease among a lot of parents.”
Baird stated that only a few parents have pulled their children from the yoga classes, adding that he doesn’t expect trustees to cancel the program. Baird explained:
“Our goal is that kids get a really healthy workout, that they get a chance to relax and reduce stress and yoga’s perfect for that. Yoga is a worldwide exercise regime utilized by people of many different faiths. Yoga is part of our mainstream culture.”
Eugene Ruffin, director for the Jois Foundation, has also denied that the group is religious, adding that the board of directors includes people from many different faiths. Ruffin stated, “These therapies are headed toward truing to find solutions for some of the stress that these children find themselves in. We’re trying to solve problems.”
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