Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Alabama lifts 27-year ban on yoga in public schools

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It’s still a stretch from full Om schooling.

Alabama has lifted an almost 28-year ban on yoga being taught in public schools — but it’s still outlawing chanting, mantras like “Om” and the traditional greeting “Namaste.”

The state banned yoga in December 1993 because lawmakers deemed it a “Hindu philosophy and method of religious training.”

But Gov. Kay Ivey signed legislation into law Thursday that allows public school boards the option of teaching yoga — albeit in a form far removed from the classic class settings that keen yogis will recognize.

“All instruction in yoga shall be limited exclusively to poses, exercises, and stretching techniques,” the new law states — stipulating that they must “have exclusively English descriptive names.”

Alabama banned teaching yoga at public schools in December 1993 because state lawmakers deemed it a "Hindu philosophy and method of religious training."
Alabama banned teaching yoga at public schools in December 1993 because state lawmakers deemed it a “Hindu philosophy and method of religious training.”
MediaNews Group via Getty Images

“Chanting, mantras, mudras, use of mandalas, induction of hypnotic states, guided imagery, and namaste greetings shall be expressly prohibited,” the law states.

K-12 kids will only get taught the newly named poses once their parents sign a consent form confirming that they “understand that yoga is part of the Hinduism religion” and are OK with it, the law states.

The ongoing restrictions “aren’t useful” and showed phobias or “blatant disrespect to the Hindu culture,” complained Democratic Rep. Jeremy Gray, who sponsored the bill.

Saying terms like "Namaste" is still outlawed from being taught in Alabama schools though.
Saying terms like “Namaste” is still outlawed from being taught in Alabama schools.
Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

However, he was forced to be flexible and accept them to keep the bill from failing, he said.

Gray is a former cornerback at North Carolina State University who did yoga as part of his training.

“We know that scientific studies show that yoga helps children cope with daily stressors as well as helping to improve behavior, concentration, mobility, flexibility, and strength,” he said.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed legislation into law that allows public school boards the option of teaching yoga.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed legislation into law that allows public school boards the option of teaching yoga.
Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Gray shared numerous messages of thanks for the bill, with many saying “Namaste,” despite the greeting remaining banned.

“Thus do we close the book on one of the stupidest moral panics in Alabama history, which is really saying a lot,” Montgomery Advertiser reporter Brian Lyman tweeted.

With Post wires



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