“It’s practiced by enough people, who probably don’t believe they are engaging in a religious practice,” he said.
Still, Encinitas Assistant Superintendent David Miyashiro said administrators are not taking any risks.
“In light of all the attention, it’s not enough to remove things with cultural references but also anything that can be perceived by onlookers as a concern,” he said. “We think it’s important to keep this program in our schools and we’re going to do what we can to protect it.”
At Flora Vista Elementary School, those precautions were apparent.
“Spread out, we’re getting ready for some airplane,” Campbell said as the children laid on their mats face down and spread their arms, arching their back and then flopping back down. Later she said: “now push back to downward dog.”
At the end, the children sprawled on their backs to relax like a “pancake” as the lights went off. There were soft giggles. Some wiggled in the dark or fiddled with their socks.
“We’re like melting cheese,” Campbell reminded the students.
Principal Stephanie Casperson said fewer children now come to her office for acting out.
“I have teachers who say before a test now students do yoga to calm themselves so they’re transferring it into the classroom, into their lives,” she said.
During a recent fire drill, 6-year-old Sylvia Lawrence said she folded over into a yoga position under her desk.
“It made the fire drill more fun,” she said.
Maria Walsh, 11, said she was never into other sports.
“It’s just a fun way for me to exercise,” said the freckled, blond-haired girl with a big smile.