Alabama lawmakers agreed to lift decades old yoga ban in schools, but don’t dare say ‘namaste’

Published 6:16 pm Thursday, March 11, 2021

A decades-old ban on yoga in Alabama public schools could be coming to an end.

The House of Representatives voted 73-25 to approve a bill by Rep. Jeremy Gray, a Democratic legislator from Opelika, that would authorize school systems to decide if they want yoga to be allowed in K-12 schools. The bill now moves to the Alabama Senate.

Yoga done in school would be limited to poses and stretches. The bill says the use of chanting, mantras and teaching the greeting “namaste” would be forbidden.

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

The 1993 Alabama yoga ban got new attention in 2018 when an old document circulated listing yoga — along with games like tag — among inappropriate activities in gym class.

Under the bill, the moves and exercises taught to students must have exclusively English names.

Gray said students would also have the option to not participate and instead do an alternative activities.