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Yoga. It’s common now days, right? I mean, there aren’t many jokes anymore about it—getting blissed-out while connecting thumb and middle finger, saying “Om” or “Namaste” or bending bodies into pretzel shapes. There may not be jokes about it, but there are some who fear yoga—even in Southern California.
My mouth dropped when I heard the news for the first time. Not only in Southern California, but in a town next to mine, and at the same school district where I’ve taught some continuing adult education classes and workshops, and been a part-time teacher’s aide for special education in the middle school. The yoga classes are thirty minutes, twice a week.
Parents sued the district for having yoga classes? Wow. Why did they sue? Because the parents felt Ashtanga yoga infringed on their religious beliefs. “If you research yoga and Hinduism, most people would say Hinduism is yoga and yoga is Hinduism,” Dean Broyles, an attorney representing the family, told ABC News. “It’s a situation where the state is endorsing religious beliefs and practices, which is forbidden under California and federal law.” He goes on to say that the poses and positions are forms of worship and prayers to Hindu deities.
The school Superintendent, Timothy Baird, said the yoga classes are a “typical P.E. class” that have been a successful and positive component to the district’s health and wellness program without any religious implications. . . . Yoga is a physical activity that’s completely mainstream,” Baird told ABC News. “It’s done in universities and churches around the world. I understand it has a cultural heritage coming from India, and there are people that use yoga in their religious practices … We are creating lesson plans in kid-friendly language that is really redesigning the program. We are not using cultural references. We are not using Sanskrit. We’ve changed the names to gorilla pose, and mountain pose.”
The ruling came in last week, and The judge said that the opponents of the yoga class were relying on information culled from the Internet and other unreliable sources. The judge in this case said the school district stripped classes of all cultural references including the Sanskrit language. He noted that the lotus position was renamed the “crisscross applesauce” pose.