Yoga And The Law
you are standing before a judge in an American
court room. You have been accused of
assaulting another person and are expecting to
spend time in jail. Suddenly you hear the
judge say, “instead of jail, your sentence
will involve anger management. For your
penalty, I’m sentencing you to yoga classes
- based on the ancient Hindu philosophy of
exercise and well-being. When it’s over,
report to me and I’ll see how well you
you think this scenario is foolishness, then
think again. It happened in the U.S.A. in
January of 2004. As the Houston Chronicle
reported: “Man ordered to take yoga classes
as part of probation.” 
it amazing? When it comes to the Ten
Commandments and the law of the land, the
American court system has made a clear
statement – keep them separate. In a
recent case, a judge was fired
because he refused to have a plaque with the
Ten Commandments removed from his court room.
However, when it comes to Eastern religion
being promoted in the court room, there’s
another set of rules. Yoga is in!
sentence given by the judge came as a surprise
to James Lee Cross, a 53-year-old car salesman
who was expecting to spend time in jail for
slapping his wife. When interviewed, he said,
“I’m not very familiar with it (yoga).
From what I understand it may help in a couple
ways, not only as far as mentally settling,
but maybe a little weight loss.” 
order to find out what a “yoga-sentence”
would actually involve, Darla Magee, an
instructor of yoga, was interviewed by a
reporter. She recommended that Mr. Cross
should take a basic yoga class emphasizing
breathing, including a variety of postures –
forward bends, back bends and twists. “Yoga
can help us to get rid of many emotional
issues we might have,” she said. “It’s a
spiritual cleanse.” 
fascinating! While the judge who sentenced Mr.
Cross seems convinced yoga is for exercise and
well-being, an instructor who teaches yoga
claims yoga has a spiritual side.
agree with the instructor. The main
purpose of yoga exercise is to place the
recipient into an altered state of
consciousness as a means of opening the door
to the realm of the spirit. But what spirit?
Ask the Hindu gurus, or Buddhists like the
Dalai Lama who practice yoga and claim that it
has helped them on their pathway to
If a judge sentenced someone to read the Bible, the ACLU would immediately intervene. So how can a judge sentence someone to practice yoga? It seems to me there needs to be an investigation.
what lies ahead in the future? Where will this
lead? What about the possibility that someday
the courts may rule that Christianity is an
elitist belief system that promotes Jesus as
the “only way”? What if a judge rules that
speaking out against Islam is a hate crime?
What if yoga classes are determined to be
mandatory in all schools in order to calm
children and help them to be more creative?
Impossible you say. Based on current trends, it may not be too far away.
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