Tag Archives: Yoga



After more than two years of litigation, and consecutive victories for YES! and EUSD, the battle to preserve the District yoga program is over. The kids have won!

Plaintiffs had until last week to petition the California Supreme Court for review of the appellate court decision in our favor. They did not meet the deadline, apparently deciding it was time to cut their losses and move on. The yoga program is thus safe and will remain a key component of EUSD’s health and wellness curriculum for years to come.

Coast Law Group has been honored to serve our community in this matter. We are not just “yoga lawyers” however.  CLG is a full service civil law firm with a focus on business, real estate, injury and environmental matters. We invite you to contact us should any legal needs arise.

For the final time, we thank you for all your support these past two years. We wish your families a fantastic summer!

2013 Encinitas Arts Alive Banner Artist: Monika Whisenhunt

2013 Encinitas Arts Alive Banner
Artist: Monika Whisenhunt


YES!!! Court Victory for Encinitas Yoga Program

YES!!! Court Victory for Encinitas Yoga Program

Dear YES! Families:

Victory, at last…. Again!!  Today the Court of Appeal released its opinion in Sedlock v. Baird.  As expected, the opinion fully affirms the 2013 trial court ruling in favor of YES! and EUSD.  Simply put, the court confirmed that the EUSD yoga program is not religious and does not violate the Constitution.

The full Court ruling is available here.

Coast Law Group continues to represent YES! on a pro bono basis.  Lead trial attorney Dave Peck commented “This ruling is exactly what we expected. The EUSD yoga program has never been religious. Those who claim otherwise have a warped perspective and their own religious agenda. 99% of the community loves the program and students, teachers, parents and administrators consistently rave about it.  I’m pleased the Court again got it right and hope this is the end of the controversy.”

While the yoga opponents will have an opportunity to petition the California Supreme Court for a review of today’s decision, two strong rulings in our favor make further judicial review unlikely.

We hope you and your families are enjoying spring break – your students’ yoga program will be waiting when they return to school.

Thank you, as always, for your warm wishes and continual support.  Coast Law Group has been honored to represent you in this fight.

~ ~ ~

Want more?

Here’s a favorite post from California Appellate Report on the ruling: “I can think of a plethora of religiously-backed — but presently “secular” — parts of public schools that have a much deeper connection with religion than the challenged yoga program here.”

NBC 7 San Diego: New in Yoga Legal Battle: Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Encinitas School District

KPBS: Ruling: Yoga Can Continue In Encinitas Schools

10 News San Diego: Ruling: Yoga can continue in Encinitas schools

Fox 5 San Diego: Appeals court rules yoga can continue in Encinitas schools

U-T San Diego: Appeals court upholds school yoga

A brief excerpt summarizing the 37-page ruling is below:


Yoga Lawsuit: Appeal Update


Dear YES! Families –

How time flies! School is nearly out, the county fair is underway and summer is once again around the corner.

This time last year we were wrapping up the yoga trial and preparing to give closing arguments. We now find ourselves responding to the appeal filed by the yoga opponents. Our brief is due mid-August so there is plenty of work to be done in the coming months.

While we remain confident our victory will be upheld by the appellate court, the battle has only intensified. Dean Broyles, the Sedlocks’ attorney, continues to solicit donations and spread his anti-yoga conspiracy theories at every opportunity. His original appellate brief, at a whopping 63 pages, was so bloated that the court refused to accept it without significant edits.

In addition to your ongoing support, YES! has been fortunate to receive several offers of assistance from legal professionals. After careful evaluation, we have elected to team up with appellate superstar M.C. Sungaila whose track record of success speaks for itself. Coast Law Group and Snell & Wilmer, Ms. Sungaila’s firm, will continue to represent YES! on a pro bono basis.

We wish you and your families a fun and safe summer. We’ll keep you posted.


Dave Peck
Coast Law Group LLP

P.S. You may have heard how LeBron James recently credited yoga with improving his performance in the NBA Finals. The NFL also recently released a great video championing the benefits of yoga.

Harvard Yoga Scientists Find Proof of Meditation Benefit


Bloomberg News
November 22, 2013
By Makiko Kitamura

Luis Acosta/AFP via Getty Images
People take part in a meditation day for peace in Colombia at Bolivar Square in Bogota, on Sept. 28, 2013.

Scientists are getting close to proving what yogis have held to be true for centuries — yoga and meditation can ward off stress and disease.

A man practices yoga on the waterfront at Nariman Point in Mumbai. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

John Denninger, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, is leading a five-year study on how the ancient practices affect genes and brain activity in the chronically stressed. His latest work follows a study he and others published earlier this year showing how so-called mind-body techniques can switch on and off some genes linked to stress and immune function.

While hundreds of studies have been conducted on the mental health benefits of yoga and meditation, they have tended to rely on blunt tools like participant questionnaires, as well as heart rate and blood pressure monitoring. Only recently have neuro-imaging and genomics technology used in Denninger’s latest studies allowed scientists to measure physiological changes in greater detail.

“There is a true biological effect,” said Denninger, director of research at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, one of Harvard Medical School’s teaching hospitals. “The kinds of things that happen when you meditate do have effects throughout the body, not just in the brain.”

The government-funded study may persuade more doctors to try an alternative route for tackling the source of a myriad of modern ailments. Stress-induced conditions can include everything from hypertension and infertility to depression and even the aging process. They account for 60 to 90 percent of doctor’s visits in the U.S., according to the Benson-Henry Institute. The World Health Organization estimates stress costs U.S. companies at least $300 billion a year through absenteeism, turn-over and low productivity.

Seinfeld, Murdoch

The science is advancing alongside a budding “mindfulness” movement, which includes meditation devotees such as Bill George, board member of Goldman Sachs Group and Exxon Mobil Corp., and comedian Jerry Seinfeld. News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch recently revealed on Twitter that he is giving meditation a try.

As a psychiatrist specializing in depression, Denninger said he was attracted to mind-body medicine, pioneered in the late 1960s by Harvard professor Herbert Benson, as a possible way to prevent the onset of depression through stress reduction. While treatment with pharmaceuticals is still essential, he sees yoga and meditation as useful additions to his medical arsenal.

Exchange Program

It’s an interest that dates back to an exchange program he attended in China the summer before entering Harvard as an undergraduate student. At Hangzhou University he trained with a tai chi master every morning for three weeks.

“By the end of my time there, I had gotten through my thick teenage skull that there was something very important about the breath and about inhabiting the present moment,” he said. “I’ve carried that with me since then.”

His current study, to conclude in 2015 with about $3.3 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, tracks 210 healthy subjects with high levels of reported chronic stress for six months. They are divided in three groups.

One group with 70 participants perform a form of yoga known as Kundalini, another 70 meditate and the rest listen to stress education audiobooks, all for 20 minutes a day at home. Kundalini is a form of yoga that incorporates meditation, breathing exercises and the singing of mantras in addition to postures. Denninger said it was chosen for the study because of its strong meditation component.

Participants come into the lab for weekly instruction for two months, followed by three sessions where they answer questionnaires, give blood samples used for genomic analysis and undergo neuro-imaging tests.

‘Immortality Enzyme’

Unlike earlier studies, this one is the first to focus on participants with high levels of stress. The study published in May in the medical journal PloS One showed that one session of relaxation-response practice was enough to enhance the expression of genes involved in energy metabolism and insulin secretion and reduce expression of genes linked to inflammatory response and stress. There was an effect even among novices who had never practiced before.

Harvard isn’t the only place where scientists have started examining the biology behind yoga.

In a study published last year, scientists at the University of California at Los Angeles and Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn found that 12 minutes of daily yoga meditation for eight weeks increased telomerase activity by 43 percent, suggesting an improvement in stress-induced aging. Blackburn of the University of California, San Francisco, shared the Nobel medicine prize in 2009 with Carol Greider and Jack Szostak for research on the telomerase “immortality enzyme,” which slows the cellular aging process.

Build Resilience

Not all patients will be able to stick to a daily regimen of exercise and relaxation. Nor should they have to, according to Denninger and others. Simply knowing breath-management techniques and having a better understanding of stress can help build resilience.

“A certain amount of stress can be helpful,” said Sophia Dunn, a clinical psychotherapist who trained at King’s College London. “Yoga and meditation are tools for enabling us to swim in difficult waters.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Makiko Kitamura in London at mkitamura1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at pserafino@bloomberg.net

Encinitas yoga appeal


Dear YES! Families –

It’s now official…. last week attorney Dean Broyles filed a Notice of Appeal in the EUSD yoga case.  The appellate process will run well into 2014 and we will keep you updated along the way.  For a glimpse of the impassioned irrationality which has gripped the yoga opponents, I share with you this excerpt from an email sent to members of the EUSD school board by an anti-yoga parent:

“I just returned from the presentation by Dean Broyles and was absolutely convicted and astonished at how we as Christians are being blinded by Satan.

“Yoga is without any question anti-Christ and I was thinking of you during the entire presentation.

“We heard a mother who is at a school where yoga is now offered at recess to any child who wants it, and she described children on field trips, in buses and on the playground performing the yoga positions on their own. This is what I talked about…indoctrinating and opening an evil spiritual world that public schools are and should be prohibited from forcing on these innocent defenseless children!

“It is a blatant violation of their innocence to protect them from religious indoctrination and a blatant violation of our Constitution!

“. . . I earnestly pray that you [school board members] will discuss this e-mail together and pray about it!!!

“I honestly  fear for your salvation, and in no way am I placing myself as judge, but after learning what was just presented I know that the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob will be holding to account anyone who is held responsible for leading innocent children astray!

“It is certain that this yoga program is absolutely doing that!”

There’s truly no point  in arguing with these folks.  Many are so blinded by fear that they fail to see the irony in their position.  They view the U.S. Constitution as a Christian document and urge the school board to be guided by religious beliefs – so long as those beliefs align with their own.

Fortunately, most members of our community are not so closed-minded.  YES! families include people of all faiths, including many devout Christians who recognize that the EUSD yoga program is exercise – and nothing more.  Students stretching on busses and playgrounds should be viewed as a good thing…. not as evidence of an evil agenda at work.  No kids are being led astray.

We appreciate your ongoing support.

–          Dave

UPDATE November 6:

Dear YES! families –

Several of you have posed a very good question:  In order to end the yoga debate why doesn’t EUSD simply change the name of the fitness program from “yoga” to something else, like “stretching”?  That would seem to be a perfectly reasonable compromise…. but not to Mr. Broyles.

In fact, Broyles has argued that if EUSD were to change the name it would simply be an act of “camouflage” designed to conceal the true Hindu agenda at work.  Broyles believes such “camouflage” is the among the District’s most sinister tactics as it fools folks into believing that acts are innocuous when they actually have religious significance.  In support of such position, Broyles has pointed to the District’s reference to a sitting position known as “criss-cross applesauce”.  [We called it by the less politically-correct name “Indian style” when I was a kid.]  Broyles claims EUSD engages in “camouflage” when it uses such a kid-friendly term for what is actually yoga’s lotus position.

As mentioned in our last post, there’s no point arguing with these folks.  Logic and reason are no match for religious zealotry.

We’ll be in touch.

–          Dave


Encinitas Schools Court Ruling: Let the Kids do Yoga!


Dear YES! Families –


This morning Judge Meyer issued his ruling denying the plaintiffs’ request that EUSD “suspend its unconstitutional religiously based physical education program.”  In finding in favor of YES! and the school district, the judge determined that the EUSD yoga program does not endorse or inhibit any religion.  The program is thus in line with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  From both a legal and common sense perspective, the judge got it right.

Again, thank you so very much for your overwhelming support throughout this battle.  If plaintiffs are foolhardy enough to appeal, as I suspect they may be, we will certainly continue the fight.  Today, however, our kids are the winners.

Coast Law Group wishes you and your families a fantastic 4th of July.












Recent media:
Huffington Post

Yoga As Religion Factors Into Ruling On Teaching Classes In Encinitas Public Schools
July 1, 2013

Los Angeles Times
Are school yoga instructors teaching religion? Judge to rule
July 1, 2013

Ruling expected in yoga lawsuit at Encinitas Union School District
July 1, 2013

Yoga Media Roundup


U-T San Diego
Yoga trial extended another day
June 25, 2013

Dean Broyles, who represents parents in the Encinitas Union School District opposed to the classes, spent nearly five hours on Tuesday wrapping up his clients’ case.

Read More


The Coast News
Attorney against school yoga program delivers closing arguments
June 25, 2013

On Monday, Broyles said his closing argument would take two hours, but his remarks stretched on over five hours.

Both parties agreed that Meyer, rather than a jury, will decide on whether the program is legal. He indicated he might rule on the case on Thursday.

Read More

Closing Arguments Begin In Encinitas School Yoga Trial
June 26, 2013

In his closing argument, Broyles said district efforts to remove possibly religious language from classes was confirmation that religion was there in the first place.

“The names of some of the poses were changed,” he said. “Big deal. They stopped using some of the Sanskrit terms. Big deal. They stopped posting the Ashtanga tree on the wall. While that was concerning, it doesn’t fundamentally change what they taught.”

Read More


NBC Southern California
Parents Suing School Claim Yoga Classes Go Against First, Second Commandments
June 25, 2013
District officials said before the program started, instructors removed images of yoga Sanskrit and changed the names of poses. But Monday plaintiffs argued that this wasn’t the case.

“We expressed our concern again after hearing about our 7-year-old daughter at class talking about Sanskrit names for her limbs that she was taught in school,” said Stephen Sedlock, who, along with his wife, is suing the school district.

Read More


CBS 8 San Diego
Final arguments in case against yoga in North County schools
June 25, 2013

David Miyashiro, the district’s assistant superintendent for education, said he instituted a yoga program at Paul Ecke Central Elementary School three years ago when he filled in for a principal on maternity leave. He said the school needed another enrichment program, and it proved popular with the kids.

“It was active, engaging,” Miyashiro said. “The kids came home and talked about it.”

Read More


Fox 5 San Diego
Trial on school yoga classes resumes
June 24, 2013

Superintendent Timothy Baird testified at trial that parents are allowed to opt out of yoga, but the children of those who do will receive less PE time than participating students. However, they will still receive at least the state-required minimum of PE minutes, he said.

Read more


NBC San Diego
Parents Testify in Encinitas Yoga Class Trial
Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Is yoga instruction religious? San Diego court case may decide
June 25, 2013

In an elementary school classroom with an American flag draped over one wall, a couple dozen students rose to standing positions. Then they shifted into poses called “volcano part one,” “silent gorilla,” and “rag doll.”

Some students may not realize it, but the semiweekly, half-hour course might be gone by the time they return in the fall.

In this upscale, seaside suburb just north of San Diego, parents have filed a lawsuit arguing the Encinitas Union School District should do away with the yoga elective because the discipline is inherently religious, and the teaching of it in the public schools violates the First Amendment.

Read more

Closing Arguments in Case Set for Tuesday
Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Closing arguments are scheduled today in the case of a couple who sued the Encinitas Union School District to stop yoga instruction, which they contend has religious overtones.

In the final day of testimony Monday, an elementary school principal in the district testified that she saw no religious overtones in yoga classes taught on her campus.

Read More and view video


Encinitas Patch
Encinitas School Yoga Trial to Resume

Monday, June 24, 2013

Parents object to “religious nature” of yoga instruction in public schools.

Trial was set to resume Monday in the case of a couple who sued the Encinitas Union School District to stop yoga instruction, which they contend has religious overtones.

The lawsuit was filed by the National Center for Law and Policy on behalf of Stephen and Jennifer Sedlock, whose children attend one of the district’s nine schools. On its website, the nonprofit Christian-based center said it focuses on the protection and promotion of religious freedom, the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, parental rights and other civil liberties.

Read More


The Coast News
Architect of school yoga program testifies
June 24, 2013

ENCINITAS — A lawsuit calling for the end of school yoga classes on the basis that they violate the separation of church and state resumed in court Monday. The yoga program’s architect, the last witness in the trial, took the stand.

David Miyashiro, assistant superintendent of education services for the Encinitas Union School District (EUSD), crafted the yoga program less than a year ago with input from a curriculum writer…

Miyashiro testified that the grant agreement between the foundation and EUSD initially specified that the Jois Foundation train the yoga teachers. But in reality, the Jois Foundation didn’t coach the 10 instructors who were ultimately hired. He added the Jois Foundation had little influence over the curriculum.

Read More


10 News San Diego
Testimony ends in school yoga case: Encinitas Union School District sued over yoga classes
Monday, June 24, 2013

Couple sues, wants classes banned

ENCINITAS, Calif. – Testimony concluded Monday in the case of a couple who sued the Encinitas Union School District to stop yoga instruction, which they contend has religious overtones.

The lawsuit was filed by the National Center for Law and Policy on behalf of Stephen and Jennifer Sedlock, whose children attend one of the district’s nine schools. On its website, the nonprofit Christianity-based center said its focuses on the protection and promotion of religious freedom, the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, parental rights and other civil liberties.

The plaintiffs contend that Ashtanga yoga is religious in nature, and that opting out costs students physical education time. They are not seeking any money, only an end to the yoga program.

Read More


U-T San Diego
Encinitas Yoga Case Debate with David Peck
Friday, June 19, 2013

6 minute video interview available here: