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Legal arguments over school yoga program to be heard next week

Oral arguments will be heard March 11 for an appeal seeking to end the Encinitas Union School District’s yoga program.

In July 2013, San Diego County Superior Court Judge John Meyer struck down a lawsuit that claimed EUSD yoga is an attempt at religious indoctrination and violates the constitution.

Meyer said that yoga is rooted in Hinduism and other religions, but added EUSD’s brand of yoga only promotes physical and mental wellness among students.

Attorneys with the Escondido-based National Center for Law and Policy, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of two EUSD parents, appealed the ruling four months later.

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“Although yoga is very popular today, it is not the job of state to pick religious winners and losers, as the district has clearly done in Encinitas,” said attorney Dean Broyles with the center in a press release last month.

EUSD officials have said the program is in no way religious, stating poses even have neutral names like “crisscross applesauce.”

A three-judge panel with the California Court of Appeals will listen to oral arguments and rule on the appeal. The hearing is 9 a.m. on March 11 in Division One of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, 750 B Street, Suite 300, San Diego.

Yoga was introduced in fall 2012 at five district schools. EUSD’s four remaining schools started yoga six months later. The program has been funded through grants from the Jois Foundation.

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The case, which is believed to be the first challenge of a school yoga program on constitutional grounds, has attracted international attention.


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