California Court: Yoga Classes Allowed in Schools

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Is teaching yoga in school a violation of students’ and parents’ religious rights? An appeals court in San Diego says “No,” deciding to uphold a ruling against a lawsuit brought by a California family who claimed yoga promoted Hinduism and inhibited Christianity, reports the Guardian.

According to the article, Stephen and Jennifer Sedlock and their two children attempted to stop the Encinitas Union School District from teaching yoga as a gym class, because they felt it was a gateway to Hinduism, and thus inhibiting Christianity. A lawyer for the family, Dean Broyles, stated:

No other court in the past 50 years has allowed public school officials to lead children in formal religious rituals like the Hindu liturgy of praying to, bowing to, and worshipping the sun god,

Despite that argument, the court saw things differently. The court decided in a 3-0 opinion that:

While the practice of yoga may be religious in some contexts, yoga classes as taught in the district are, as the trial court determined, ‘devoid of any religious, mystical, or spiritual trappings.’

The district said it was teaching yoga in a secular way as a means to promote strength, flexibility, and balance. Paul V Carelli IV, a lawyer for the district, reiterated that there were “no rituals occurring in the classroom and no one was worshipping the sun or leading Hindu rites.”

Thanks to Indiana Governor Mike Pence and his “anti-gay bill,” there’s been a lot of national controversy in recent weeks regarding the protection of citizens’ rights to religious freedom. While helping to prevent individuals from being forced to violate their religious beliefs is ultimately a good thing, it becomes a problem when people begin to use it as a defense for banning rather innocuous forms of exercise. While Pence and others hammer out the details of their religious bills, lets hope they at least leave yoga out of the equation.

Alexis Evans
Alexis Evans is an Assistant Editor at Law Street and a Buckeye State native. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and a minor in Business from Ohio University. Contact Alexis at



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