by Wendy Kagan
The Encinitas yoga trial has made national news, as opposing parents in the district became plaintiffs in a case that contends the school's yoga program violates the separation of church and state. Although creators of the program—funded by a $500,000 grant by the K.P. Jois Foundation—aimed to edit out much of yoga's Eastern spiritual roots, the plaintiffs contend that the classes are a thinly veiled promotion of Hinduism.
An equally vociferous group of parents is defending the program, citing yoga's scientifically proven body-mind benefits as well as something even more compelling: the positive effects the program is having on their children. Some teachers in the district say the elementary schoolers are calmer and more focused after the twice weekly sessions—a refreshing change from traditional PE classes.
A pro-yoga judge is expected to rule in favor of the program, which the Jois Foundation hopes to use in funded studies about yoga's effects on things like student attendance, behavior, and achievement. Yet with its lengthy list of witnesses, the case has already extended its expected time frame—and Lululemon-clad onlookers across the country await the results with measured yoga breath.
Meanwhile, stay tuned to Daily Dose for closer-to-home stories about yoga in a school near you.