Religious studies professor testifies at California yoga trial

Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Becky Yeh - California correspondent (

A civil trial resumes June 24 in California, where a deeply religiously form of yoga is under scrutiny.

Dean Broyles of the National Center for Law and Policy says the court heard from Candy Gunther Brown, a religious studies professor, who described Ashtanga yoga that is being taught in a physical education class.

Broyles, Dean (NCLP)Broyles said Brown "did a fantastic job during the trial explaining how yoga is rooted in Hindiusm and is pervasively religious."

Brown, who holds a doctorate from Harvard, testified about Ashtanga yoga's connection with Hinduism, Buddhism and Western metaphysical beliefs. She is a professor at Indiana University.

An NBC affiliate in San Diego reported that Brown was called as an expert witness and said on the witness stand that all forms of yoga "share a religious goal, and that goal is human salvation."

The school's curriculum includes the same opening, poses and closing as Ashtanga, the professor testified.

"That frames this as something more than exercise," she told the court.

The lawsuit comes after the Encinitas Union School District accepted more than $500,000 from the K.P. Jois Foundation to teach the yoga classes. 

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