Joy Laine [+]
James W. Laine [+]
Following Carl Ernst’s critical questions growing out of his analysis translations of yoga texts by Sufi practitioners, we analyze contemporary American debates about the nature of yoga practice –whether it is essentially Hindu or not, religious or not— in the context of legal disputes about the teaching of yoga in public schools. The case in question, Sedlock vs. Baird, brought by parents of children in the Encinitas (CA) public schools, challenged the legality of teaching yoga, understood as a religious practice, in a public school, given the establishment clause of the constitution prohibiting such practices. We compare the attempts to justify yoga as non-religious to those attempts of Creationists to portray their opposition to evolution as scientific. We conclude by thinking through the variety of definitions deployed by interested parties for the key terms: religion, Islam, Hinduism, Sufism, yoga.