California court allows yoga in schools, despite religious objections

Lawsuit said that yoga is a religious exercise, therefore students could not be forced to participate

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The Independent US

A California appeals court last week ruled that a school district in the state could continue to incorporate yoga into its physical education program, despite a lawsuit that objected to it on the grounds of religious freedom.

Stephen and Jennifer Sedlock filed a lawsuit on behalf of their children, who attend school in Encinitas, California, saying that the yoga poses taught to students violate the state Constitution’s religious-freedom provisions, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The lawsuit claimed that yoga is “a Hindu religious exercise or practice that is simultaneously physical and religious”.

Encinitas parents complained in 2012 about religious references in the yoga curriculum, prompting the school district to remove Sanskrit and mentions of the spiritual or divine.

The lower court ruled that the yoga curriculum did not contain any religious, mystical or spiritual trappings, the Journal reported.

The California Fourth District Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court.

“It is clear that while yoga may be practiced for religious reasons, it cannot be said to be inherently religious or overtly sectarian,” the court said in a ruling Friday. “In the absence of evidence that the District’s program advances religion, no religious coercion is present.”

 

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