Bent Out of Shape: Fictions of Yoga and Religion before the Courts

With Amélie Barras


We engage with the practice of yoga in Californian public schools through a recent case to examine the discursive mechanisms at play when a practice is shaped as religious (or not). A correlation is made between the practice of yoga in schools and male circumcision, to think about its secular/religious vocation. This line of questioning is salient in exploring how law curates the body of the “secular” “modern” child. We argue that yoga, like circumcision, is an example of an ambidextrous practice that can be curated as either “religious” or “secular”. Section 1 provides a brief genesis of our legal cases and theoretical proposal for secularism as a curating practice. Section 2 offers discursive analyses of religious practice, as well as culture and health through yoga’s postures. Ultimately, we seek to critically examine the manner, mechanisms and methods through which different practices exercised by children or on their bodies are (re)shaped by/through the courts.


Dabby, D., Barras, A. (2018). « Bent out of shape: fictions of yoga and religion before the courts », Religion & Human Rights, vol. 13, no 3, p. 270-296.

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