There is zero religious instruction going on as part of the Jois Yoga-funded exercise program, Encinitas Union School District Superintendent Timothy Baird is reiterating following the lawsuit filed this week seeking the program’s end.
“If you were to walk in there, you would feel like you’re going into a gym,” Baird told ABC News, in what looks like his most extensive comments in the past day. “The students come in, do some warm ups, do the typical stretching and movement. There’s absolutely no religious instruction that goes on, whatsoever.
“I believe what he is saying is just the motions of the yoga stretching is somehow invoking Hinduism — and in America, where 90 to 95 percent of the practitioners are not even Hindu,” Baird said.
The “he” Baird refers to is Dean Broyles, the attorney with the National Center for Law & Policy, which filed the suit.
In his comments to ABC News, Baird makes the strongest point yet that I’ve seen in defense of the program: The district, which now is offering the yoga program to all 5,500 of its students (except those who have opted out), isn’t running Ashtanga classes. Those are too hard for kindergarten through sixth-graders.
True that! But I suppose that’s not an argument everyone would “get.”
“We are probably using some of the poses found in Ashtanga yoga,” Baird said. “But we have modified this extensively to be done by students of this particular age. And all body types can be successful [with] what we are doing in our classes.”
Where can I sign up? This might be just the yoga I’ve been looking for: Ashtanga light. Light on the postures, light on the religion.
Baird also says the district will continue offering the classes.
What Baird describes gibes with what I’ve heard from people today: the Encinitas yoga program really is about as close to stretching and calisthenics as one could image. It may come down to the packaging. If there wasn’t the Ashtanga label, perhaps there wouldn’t be an issue. Or such a big issue.
OK, probably there’d still be an issue.
Posted by Steve