A new bill in Alabama would lift a 30-year ban on yoga in public schools but ‘namaste’ greetings would be off-limits

Teens doing yoga

If passed, an Alabama bill would reinstate teaching yoga in public schools after a 30-year ban.

The Alabama Board of Education voted in 1993 to prohibit hypnosis, meditation, and yoga in public schools after conservative groups pushed the ban.

“The State Board of Education specifically prohibits the use of hypnosis and dissociative mental states. School personnel shall be prohibited from using any techniques that involve the induction of hypnotic states, guided imagery, meditation, or yoga,” the regulation states.

The 1993 ban gained attention in 2018 when a document circulated deeming yoga, dodgeball, and kickball as inappropriate gym activities, the AL reported.

The new legislation would allow students to take yoga as an elective activity or opt-out for a different elective. The poses, exercises, and stretching techniques will be limited exclusively to sitting, standing, reclining, twisting, and balancing, the bill states.

All poses, exercises, and stretching techniques are required to use English descriptive names – chanting, mantras, mudras, use of mandalas, and namaste greetings will not be allowed.

Democratic state Representative Jeremy Gray of Opelika, who sponsored the bill, said he was introduced to yoga through football when he was a cornerback at North Carolina State University, according to the AP.

“I’ve been in yoga for seven years. I know the benefits of yoga, so it was very dear to my heart, and I think Alabama will be better for it,” Gray said.

The bill passed in the house on March 10, with 17 representatives voting against it. Gray said some of his colleagues reporte receiving “a lot emails about it being part of Hinduism.”

“Some people’s minds you can never change,” he said.