Encinitas schools to expand yoga program with new grant

Encinitas Union School District leaders on Wednesday agreed to accept a $1.4-million grant from the Sonima Foundation — formerly the Jois Foundation — to expand its yoga program to all district schools.

We noted the possibility earlier. And for those just coming out of their sadhu cave, this is the yoga program that garnered all the headlines after parents sued to stop it based on religious concerns. A judge ruled that there was no violation of the First Amendment, although opponents have vowed to appeal.

For now, though, on with the show. From the U-T San Diego:

Baird said the new grant will increase the number of teachers from 10 to 18 and will pay to write part of the program’s curriculum dealing with positive character traits.

Two of the new positions will be for professional development, with one person training teachers in the physical activity and another training them in character development, a curriculum component already taught in other district classes, Baird said.

The original yoga classes were funded through a $533,000 grant from the Jois Foundation, named after Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, who introduced to the United States a style of yoga known as Ashtanga.

Baird said the foundation, which earlier this year changed its name to the Sonima Foundation, already had increased its support to about $700,000 to help pay for additional expenses and another teacher.

The U-T’s coverage notes that the meeting was quiet, as opposed to all the noise around the trial, etc. That didn’t keep the opposition’s lawyer, Dean Broyles of the National Center for Law & Policy, from emailing comments. These are culled from the U-T (there doesn’t seem to be a mass statement):

“EUSD’s decision today is really quiet astounding for me as a constitutional attorney.

“ We are a nation of laws, not men. EUSD’s decision to double down on its flagrant religious freedom violations is an outrageous breach of public trust. Apparently the money served as much too powerful an intoxicant for the trustees to handle and far too easily purchased continuing egregious First Amendment violations.

“The Jois Foundation can change its name, but it can’t camouflage the fact that it is promoting religion in a public school district.”

The U-T story also picks up a thread from Broyles that we noted weeks ago: Opponents are now citing events at this year’s Ashtanga Yoga Confluence as evidence that the yoga being promoted is religious. That seemed a stretch to us, and definitely not a “smoking gun.”

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

One thought on “Encinitas schools to expand yoga program with new grant”

  1. Interesting especially since a lot of states in India are also making Yoga mandatory for Kids. This is fantastic considering that these kids will be young adults in 15 years and suffer from all the stresses of modern living – and at that point they would already have known of yoga; and can revert to the practice at a local shala.

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