We have a date for the next phase in the Encinitas yoga trial

Now, on as the Yoga World Turns:

On March 11, 2015, attorneys with the National Center for Law & Policy will again square off in oral arguments against counsel defending Encinitas’ public school Ashtanga yoga program at the California Court of Appeals, Fourth Appellate District, Division One, in downtown San Diego, California. The case is fully briefed and has been assigned to a three-judge panel, including Honorable justices Judith McConnell, Richard Huffman, and Cynthia Aaron, who will hear oral arguments next month and decide the appeal in the near future.

That’s from a press release from Friday from the NCLP, the law firm behind the ongoing lawsuit against the Sonima Foundation’s yoga in schools program. (I think all our background is here.) Here’s more from the release, which doesn’t seem to be online yet:

The lawsuit challenges EUSD’s (Encinitas Union School District) teaching of Ashtanga yoga’s religious practices, such as the Surya Namaskara. The litigation has made major waves in America’s growing yoga community, launching a national conversation about whether yoga is religious and is an appropriate subject for public education. The lawsuit and the petitioners lead counsel Dean Broyles were recently featured in the important documentary Who Owns Yoga. Friend-of-the-court (amicus curiae) briefs were filed by World Faith Foundation, the Church State Council, and the Pacific Justice Institute, supporting Petitioners and Appellants. Amicus briefs were filed in support of Respondent EUSD by the Atlantic Legal Foundation, California School Boards Association’s Education Legal Alliance, and the Yoga Alliance.

It goes on to mention a similar lawsuit is up before India’s Supreme Court. Here’s more:

The Jois Foundation (hereinafter “Jois/Somina”), which has partnered with EUSD to develop an Ashtanga yoga program to replace traditional physical education, was formed in 2011 (K.P. Jois “Guruji” had died in 2009) by a group of individuals including Sonia Tudor Jones, an ardent devotee of Guruji and Ashtanga yoga who desires to “spread the gospel of Ashtanga throughout the country and even internationally” and who is wife of billionaire Paul Tudor-Jones. The plan was to conduct a three-yea “scientific” study (performed by USD and UVA’s Contemplative Sciences Center) of the program. Yet Jois/Sonima announced in early May 2014 that it is moving ahead with its public school national yoga push, despite the fact that the three-year study is not completed and the Trial Court’s ruling is being appealed. Stedman Graham, Oprah’s Winfrey’s boyfriend, joined by Caroline Jones, the daughter of Paul and Sonia Tudor-Jones, is spearheading Sonima’s public relations campaign in 40 school districts nationwide, including a recent expansion into the El Cajon Valley School District. Sonima’s board of directors is a veritable who’s who of the modern New Age movement. Billionaire Paul Tudor-Jones serves as the chairman and is joined by Deepak Chopra, Stedman Graham, and others. EUSD Superintendent Timothy Baird and Scott Himelstein are on Sonima’s Advisory Board. Himelstein is the Director of the Center for Education Policy and Law at the University of San Diego and is also on the San Diego Union Tribune’s education panel.

After the Trial Court’s ruling that yoga “is religious,” the K.P. Jois Foundation scrambled to change its name to the “Sonima Foundation” and created a new website (See http://sonimafoundation.org) that removed many of the overt religious references explicitly included on the former website (See http://joisyoga.com/about/story). The Trial Court acknowledged that, although not structured as a religious foundation per se, Jois/Sonima is “deeply involved in yoga and Ashtanga yoga” and “has a mission to establish and teach Ashtanga yoga.” Specifically, as it relates to this case, Jois/Sonima “has an interest in extending physical fitness and health and welfare programs with Ashtanga yoga as its core in the school as an alternative to traditional physical education.” Jois/Sonima’s explicit stated goal is to have a global “outreach” “mission” of impacting as many people as possible, especially “youths,” with Ashtanga “spiritual” philosophy. Jois/Sonima representatives have affirmed Guruji’s explicit teaching that the mere “physical practice” of the yoga asanas leads practitioners to “become one with God . . . whether they want it or not.”

That pretty well gives you the flavor.

I don’t see any response yet on the site for those supporting the program.

Posted by Steve


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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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