Encinitas yoga trial: Asana as religious expression

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

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

2 thoughts on “Encinitas yoga trial: Asana as religious expression”

  1. I just can’t believe that people want to prove that yoga is not steeped in religion. It does yoga such disservice and takes away from the tradition Yoga especially Ashtanga and Vinyasa Krama is steeped in the traditions of Hinduism. i understand why the pro Ashtanga in schools want to argue this but its a lie. Ok maybe that’s harsh how about an untruth or white lie. When I look at the photos of Guruji and Krishnamacharya in my room I can’t separate them from Hinduism it would be disrespectful in my opinion.

  2. Brad,

    Thank you for being honest. I wish the Jois Foundation and EUSD cared as much about the truth as you do. Guruji and Krishnamacharaya should be rolling over in their graves (or in Samadhi) right about now at the blatant deception.

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