Interpretive phenomenological analysis of a lawsuit contending that school-based yoga is religion: A study of school personnel

Int J Yoga Therap. 2017 Nov;27(1):25-35. doi: 10.17761/1531-2054-27.1.25.


This study focused on the perspectives of school personnel affiliated with the Encinitas Union School District in California following a lawsuit arguing that their yoga-based program included religion and therefore was unsuitable for implementation in public schools and was unconstitutional. Participants (N = 32) were interviewed using a semistructured interview, and data were analyzed according to Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Five super-ordinate themes (including sub-themes) were identified in an iterative process, including: participants' perspectives on the roots of yoga and the type of yoga taught in their district; the process of introducing a yoga-in-the-schools program in light of this contention (including challenges and obstacles, and how these were met); perspectives on the lawsuit and how the process unfolded; effects of the lawsuit on school climate and beyond; and perspectives on yoga as, and as not, religious. The study attempts to shed light on the impact of an ongoing lawsuit on a school district at the time of implementation of a program for students' well being.

MeSH terms

  • California
  • Humans
  • Religion
  • Schools*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Yoga*