Yoga Alliance to Support Encinitas Yoga Program in Court of Appeals

September 17, 2014

Yoga Alliance® will submit an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief this October in support of the Encinitas Union School District's physical education program that includes yoga as an optional alternative to traditional physical education.

The school district developed a yoga program suitable for public elementary school students – for example, renaming “lotus” pose to “criss-cross applesauce” and removing all Sanskrit terms. Two parents nonetheless sued the school district officials, contending that yoga is inherently religious and therefore the yoga program violates the religious freedom provisions of the U.S. and California. Another association of parents – YES! Yoga for Encinitas Students – joined the case in support of the school district and yoga program.

After a seven-day bench (non-jury) trial, the trial judge determined that the school district’s yoga program does not violate the U.S. Constitution. Plaintiffs have appealed that decision and briefing is underway in the California Court of Appeals.

Although not a party to the case, Yoga Alliance has played a role throughout the litigation. Yoga Alliance board of directors chairman Brandon Hartsell submitted an expert declaration that the trial judge quoted in its written decision. Next month, Yoga Alliance will submit a brief to the Court of Appeals to refute plaintiff’s central premise and explain that modern-day yoga practice in America is not inherently religious.

The case is Sedlock v. Baird, case no. D064888 in the California Court of Appeal (Fourth District, Division One).

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