Questioning the Definition of “Religion” as the Trial Begins

May 21, 2013
children practicing yoga seated on desksYesterday, the trial began in Encinitas, Calif. where two parents are challenging a yoga program in schools. The judge initiated the debate by asking, “what is religion?,” as reported by the UT San Diego. While no definitive answer was reached, the plaintiff’s expert witness, Candy Brown, continued to assert that “bodily practices” cannot be separated from the broader system of yoga, which she claimed is inherently religious in nature. Dean Broyles, attorney for the plaintiff, claimed that students in Encinitas were "spiritual guinea pigs," as reported in The Coast News, and warned that this yoga program was only a pilot of what could soon be many yoga in school programs.
The Encinitias Union School District (EUSD) argued that the yoga program in their classrooms is secular and does not contain any religious references. Superintendent Timothy Baird stated that the yoga curriculum was specifically designed for the school district and should be viewed independently of the Jois Foundation’s Ashtanga yoga. The Jois Foundation provided funding for the yoga program in Encinitas, and the plaintiff’s expert witness testimony delves into the history and context of Ashtanga yoga, in their attempt to characterize yoga as religious. Attorney for the defense, David Peck, suggested the evaluation of the program should be based on whether an average student would identify the program as religious, and stated that the "fanatical" view is irrelevant.

The decision will be up to Superior Court Judge John Meyer, who has mentioned previously that the trial will focus on the particular yoga program in Encinitas (and not yoga at large). We hope the defense comes through as the trial continues today. We will keep you posted.



Related articles

Encinitas Yoga in Schools Case Progresses – March 25, 2015
The case dealing with an elementary school district’s yoga program, Sedlock, et al v. Baird, et al, was argued before a three-judge panel of California’s 4th District Court of Appeal on March 11, 2015 in San more

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 more

Judge rules in favor of yoga program in Encinitas schools – July 10, 2013
Yoga and children were the big winners last week when a judge ruled that the Encinitas Union School District’s (EUSD) yoga-in-school program doesn’t violate the constitutional prohibition against mixing church and more

Yoga trial without resolution – May 23, 2013
The trial for Sedlock v Baird continued Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, and will go on hiatus until June, as reported by the U-T San more

Yoga Alliance helps defend yoga in schools – May 16, 2013
On Monday, the case of Sedlock v. Baird is scheduled to go to trial. Parents of a child in Encinitas, Calif. are challenging the Encinitas Union School District (EUSD) on the accusation that yoga sessions taught in school…read more

Yoga Alliance flower logo 

Want more news about all things yoga? Join us and receive our monthly newsletter, updates about our latest Online Workshops, and more information about what's going on in the yoga community!

Yoga Alliance is a nonprofit 501(c)(6). Yoga Alliance Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3). This website refers to the two organizations as "Yoga Alliance." Copyright 2018 Yoga Alliance. Yoga Alliance, the Yoga Alliance logo, RYS, RYT, and YACEP are registered marks with the USPTO and other jurisdictions.
Copyright 2018 by Yoga Alliance