Encinitas Union School District sued over its yoga program

Attorney: Yoga classes 'inherently religious'

SAN DIEGO - An attorney representing a family bent out of shape over the Encinitas Union School District's yoga program said he has filed a lawsuit to halt the district-wide classes.

In a lawsuit filed in San Diego Superior Court, attorney Dean Broyles argues the twice weekly, 30-minute classes are inherently religious, in violation of the separation between church and state.

The district is believed to be the first in the country to have full-time yoga teachers at every one of its schools. The lessons are funded by a $533,000, three-year grant from the Jois Foundation, a nonprofit group that promotes Ashtanga yoga.  

The district started the yoga classes at its nine schools in January and Superintendent Timothy Baird says teachers and parents have noticed students are calmer, using the breathing practices to release stress before tests.

Baird stresses the district is "not teaching religion," but what he describes as "a very mainstream physical fitness program that happens to incorporate yoga into it."  He says "the vast majority of students and parents support it."

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