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Yoga in schools seems like a no brainer to those who have noticed how the practice can help kids calm and focus. But while a growing body of research points out the benefits of yoga for kids, there are still some who are concerned with yoga’s connection to religion.
The yoga program at schools in Encinitas, California, has been seeing backlash from parents concerned about the religious roots of the practice. Several parents have pulled their children from the classes, according to news reports. Now the parents are threatening legal action against the school district if the classes don’t stop.
“There’s a deep concern that the Encinitas Union School District is using taxpayer resources to promote Ashtanga yoga and Hinduism, a religion system of beliefs and practices,” the parents’ attorney, Dean Broyles, told the North County Times. He also reportedly called the yoga classes unconstitutional in an earlier email to the superintendent.
The yoga program is funded by the Jois Yoga Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes Ashtanga Yoga. Some schools in the district began the twice-weekly classes last month while others are scheduled to begin incorporating yoga into the curriculum in January.
Encinitas School District Superintendent Tim Baird said that all religious content has been removed, but that hasn’t satisfied the concerned parents.
“I will not allow my children to be indoctrinated by this Hindu religious program,” one parent said at a recent school board meeting.