Alabama lifts yoga ban in schools, but kids better not dare utter an ‘Om’

Don’t say it!
Don’t say it!
Illustration: Shutterstock

Roll... Yoga mats!

In case you missed it, the state of Alabama lifted its 27-year ban on teaching yoga in public schools.

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Back in 1993, the state board of education voted to ban yoga, hypnosis and meditation in K-12 classrooms. But late last week, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill approving the return of ancient physical and mental disciplines that originated in India.

While yoga can now be taught, phrases like “namaste” as well as “chanting, mantras, mudras, use of mandalas” are prohibited — presumably because of backlash from conservative groups who argued that said phrases would promote hinduism or other meditation practices.

While Yoga is now permitted, the bill states:

“School personnel may not use any techniques that involve hypnosis, the induction of a dissociative mental state, guided imagery, meditation, or any aspect of Eastern philosophy and religious training in which meditation and contemplation are joined with physical exercises to facilitate the development of body-mind-spirit.”

So apparently, saying “namaste” is a slippery slope to... practicing Hinduism?

What?

Yes, in late March, two conservative groups actually expressed concerns that allowing yoga in schools could lead to the promotion of Hinduism or other forms of meditation.

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“Yoga is a very big part of the Hindu religion,” Becky Gerritson, director of Eagle Forum of Alabama. “If this bill passes, then instructors will be able to come into classrooms as young as kindergarten and bring these children through guided imagery, which is a spiritual exercise, and it’s outside their parents’ view. And we just believe that this is not appropriate.”

Gasp!

This legislation was introduced by State Rep. Jeremy Gray, a self described christian, who started doing yoga as a college football player at N.C. State. He loved the practice so much that he became a yoga instructor. Now, as a legislator, he says the bill is simply to promote children’s health and wellness.

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“This whole notion that if you do yoga, you’ll become Hindu — I’ve been doing yoga for 10 years and I go to church and I’m very much a Christian,” Gray added.

I’ve done yoga too, and the only thing that’s changed is my posture — and for the better.

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So for all the critics still out there down in Alabama, try yoga. Please. It will loosen you up.