Alabama bill would undo ban on yoga in schools but prohibit ‘namaste greetings’
A proposed Alabama House bill would undo a 1993 ban on yoga in K-12 public schools but would create strict rules on how the practice is instructed to students.
The measure, introduced by Democratic state Rep. Jeremy Gray, has already passed in the Education Policy Committee with bipartisan support and is expected to be voted on by the House next week, according to NBC News.
Under the rules proposed in the bill, school districts could choose to offer yoga as an elective class, but would require instruction to focus “exclusively to poses, exercises and stretching techniques” that are taught with “exclusively English descriptive names,” meaning traditional Sanskrit names for poses would be taught using an English label. For example, vrksasana is usually referred to as tree pose.
Under the rule, “chanting, mantras, mudras, use of mandalas, and 11 namaste greetings shall be expressly prohibited,” and all instruction is “limited exclusively to poses, exercises, and stretching techniques.”
School districts would have their own discretion in whether to offer the classes and how often they are offered.
In 1993, a law was passed banning yoga and other “meditation” practices in public schools, as well as the use of “hypnosis and dissociative mental states.” Under the law, yoga was labeled a “Hindu philosophy” and a “method of religious training.”
Gray, a former professional football player, called yoga “a great way to work on your posture, flexibility, balance and to strengthen your core,” and said many people didn’t even know the 1993 law was in place.
“I really don’t see what the big deal is,” Gray said of yoga. “I mean, my wife does this, my mother does this on the floor of her Methodist church.”
While the bill so far has bipartisan support, some Republicans are expected to oppose the measure.