As the trial over the Encinitas Union School District yoga program continues today — it should wrap up Wednesday or Thursday — here’s more highlights from a range of coverage. First, the various stories:
Then, some specific highlights:
- The trial judge, the one who admitted he’s been doing Bikram Yoga, is the decider in this case. There’s no jury, as agreed to by both parties.
- There was a lot of emphasis on the developing nature of the school yoga program. It seems like at the beginning, there may have been more “Hindu” elements, but parents objected and the district redesigned things. As noted yesterday, the superintendent claims what is being taught ought to be called EUSD yoga — he makes it sound like it is stretching with some focused breath exercises. (That’s what we witnessed at the Confluence in March.)
- The main witness for the program’s opponents, religion professor Candy Brown, testified and suggested that religion can be expressed by actions as well as words. I don’t see any coverage connecting the dots, but I assume that was said in the context of asana being action — Hindu action.
- The proselytizing nature of Jois Yoga — Ashtanga for the masses, if you will — appears in different forms in the trial coverage. Opponents suggested Ashtanga is a particularly religious form of yoga. (I’d think that could be used to suggest that there are yogas that aren’t religious, and that perhaps the yoga as developed now in the schools falls into the category. Paddleboard yoga, etc. has been mentioned.)
The trial is supposed to be continuing today.
I’ve also seen that there’s a website for those supporting the program: Yes! Yoga for Encinitas Students. (It appears to be set up by the law firm that is doing pro bono work on the proponents’ side.) It has links to the pro-program trial brief (essentially a counter to Brown’s lengthy one) as well as three of their own expert testimonies: Here, here and here. Included is Mark Singleton and a Loyola Marymount University professor. There are other documents at the above link.
Posted by Steve
Not sure how we missed this earlier this month.
OK. I am sure. We weren’t looking for it. I think there was a lag in the Urban Yogis feature involving Eddie Stern and Deepak Chopra, so I assumed it was over, out, done with.
Posted by Steve
The trial into whether the Jois Yoga-backed children’s exercise courses in the Encinitas Union School District started on Monday, and according to the U-T San Diego, it did so with an unusual question:
“What is religion?” asked San Diego Superior Court Judge John Meyer, who is overseeing the proceedings. He also began the day by saying “this will be an interesting case.”
No answer to that little brain teaser came during day one.
Here’s what seems to have been the key happenings:
In his opening statement, Broyles said the early version of the district’s program referred specifically to Ashtanga yoga, a style promoted by the foundation. He read from a foundation brochure that said this method of yoga can “lead to great awareness of our spiritual potential.” He also described children in the program sitting cross-legged in a lotus position, with their arms outstretched, fingers encircled and pinkies extended in what he described as a prayer pose.
Attorney David Peck, who has joined the case on behalf of parents in the group Yoga for Encinitas Students, said in his opening statement that there may have been “missteps” when the curriculum was introduced but what matters now is that all religious references have been removed.
I think we’ve suggested the “missteps” issue early on when this story first started. (A few people, I know, would argue that Jois Yoga has made some other blunders along the way.)
Encinitas’ superintendent also picked up the theme highlighted heading into the opening day of the trial: what they are offering is more exercise program than yoga. It should be called “EUSD Yoga,” he said.
The trial is scheduled to continue on Tuesday.
Posted by Steve
I’ve talked a little about the yoga hazard in our new house: the subfloor, which booms and echoes with each and every not-so-dainty crash to the mat.
It’s a big-time Uddiyana Bandha check. And it’s a reminder of where my practice might be just a little sloppy. The crash is all the evidence one needs.
Everyone, I would think, is familiar with an example of this crashing evidence: the landing in Supta Konasana. Has a Led Primary practice ever passed without the instructor being able to say, to someone, “Not correct,” after that person landed like a ton of yoga bricks?
We all know we have to be careful in that one. But the thing is, there are plenty of other poses and transitions that also might be hiding some less than graceful movements.
As I’ve been finding out. On the off chance you’ve forgotten where they are, here’s a hopefully complete list from Primary — the poses where I have been just a little too loud thanks to our subfloor:
- All the jumpbacks in the Suryas — for me it is especially from standing that I land loudly (I think I’ve discovered if I crouch down more, i.e. get a bit more like I’m seated, I land more lightly — and yes, it is probably cheating)
- The jumpback from Utkatasana
- The transition from the last Virabhadrasana B to Chaturanga, before the seated poses
- Jumping into Tiryam Mukha Eka Pada Paschimottanasana
- The occasionally sloppy jumpback (and maybe jump through)
- Jumping around the arms for both Bhuja Pidasana and Supta Kurmasana; exiting both poses
- Supta Konasana, as mentioned
- Exiting headstand
Those are poses in which I can remember, at least once, going, “Ugh.” There might be more — I try not to think about this type of ephemera when possible. But the huge thuds can make it hard.
Anyway, that might be a list of poses worth focusing a little extra attention on in an effort to make your practice lighter and ensure you don’t make an asana of yourself at some point in the future (TM — Tim Miller).
And the inspiration, if you didn’t get it:
Posted by Steve
Today — Monday, May 20 — is the scheduled opening of the trial in the lawsuit over the Jois Yoga-funded exercise program in the Encinitas school district.
Exercise program, you wonder? Well, yes — that’s one of the new things (to me, and I assume others) to be found in the U-T San Diego’s preview story of the trial: “A 12-page trial brief filed by the law firm Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff & Holtz on behalf of the school district argues that the exercise program was ‘built from scratch’ with no religious instruction.”
Much of the rest is all the stuff we’ve touched on before from the anti-yoga program folks. (Our look at the detailed expert testimony arguing that yoga inherently is religious is here.) But there is more new stuff from the defense side in the U-T story like this:
The Encinitas-based Coast Law Group, which has joined the lawsuit on behalf of families who support the district’s yoga program, filed a six-page trial brief.
In it, attorney David Peck wrote that the plaintiff’s view of yoga as religious is “myopic,” as the practice has evolved to include broad definitions such as “paddleboard yoga,” “hip-hop yoga,” “yoga booty ballet” and a form specifically for men called “broga.”
So I guess there may be a reason to feel OK with stand-up yoga, etc. Although I suspect there will be ideas pitched about the court that people on all sides aren’t going to like.
We’ll keep y’all up on things as they go.
Update: Not sure if this piece is online only at USA Today or is in the print edition, as well. It’s pretty much what you’d expect from yoga supporters. Probably the most noteworthy thing is its being in one of the U.S.’s biggest papers. Yoga is mainstream, huh?
Posted by Steve
Let’s close out the weekend of Guruji’s passing — the fourth — with more video remembrances. This might be the most viewed on the Youtubes:
And a nice compilation:
Thank you to Guruji and all the wonderful teachers who continue to emanate his light of teaching, devotion and yoga to the world.
Posted by Steve and Bobbie
This video went up last summer, for the July Guru Purnima holiday. Today seems a good day to pass it along, in remembrance of Pattabhi Jois on the fourth anniversary of his passing.
I have a suspicion I know who put it together, but I’ll let him speak up if I’m right.
Posted by Steve