Alabama Home Votes Ending Yoga Ban However Does not Say “Namaste”

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – A decade-long ban on yoga in public schools in Alabama could come to an end.

The Alabama House of Representatives voted 73 to 25 votes to pass a bill giving school systems the power to decide whether to allow yoga in K-12 schools. The bill now goes to the Alabama Senate.

Yoga in school would be limited to poses and stretches. The bill states that the use of chants, mantras and teaching the greeting “Namaste” would be prohibited.

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The Alabama Board of Education voted to ban yoga, hypnosis, and meditation in public school classes in 1993. The ban was promoted by conservative groups.

Opelika Democratic MP Jeremy Gray sponsored the bill. He said he understood that some physical education teachers had been teaching yoga in class before realizing it was banned and others wanted to offer it, especially during virtual learning.

Gray, a former cornerback at North Carolina State University, said he was introduced to yoga through soccer, and the exercises could bring mental and physical benefits to students.

“I’ve been in yoga for seven years. I know the benefits of yoga, so I cared about it and I think Alabama will be better for it, ”said Gray.

According to the bill, the movements and exercises taught to students must have English names only. Gray said students also had the option of not participating and doing an alternate activity instead.

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The 1993 Alabama yoga ban received new attention in 2018 when an old document listed yoga – along with games like Tag – among inappropriate activities in physical education.

25 representatives in the 105-strong house voted against the bill. Gray said some members of the House said they had “received a lot of emails about it being part of Hinduism”.

“Some people’s minds can never be changed. If you have to choose your district, I understand, ”said Gray.

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