Ban on yoga in Alabama public schools lifted after 27 years
A long-standing ban on yoga in Alabama public schools was lifted on Thursday. Governor Kay Ivey signed legislation that would allow public schools to teach the practice for the first time in 27 years.
Yoga was banned in Alabama public schools in 1993, when the Alabama Board of Education voted to prohibit hypnosis, meditation and yoga in public schools after conservative groups pushed the ban, according to the Associated Press.
Democratic state Representative Jeremy Gray introduced HB246 in February to in hopes of lifting the yoga ban. Gray, a former cornerback at North Carolina State University, was introduced to yoga through football and said the exercises can provide mental and physical benefits to students, according to the AP.
In April, the bill stalled in the state’s Senate. During a hearing by the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee, two conservative groups objected the bill, citing concerns about yoga’s ties to Hinduism, according to the Associated Press.
Legislators added amendments to the bill that require parents to sign a permission slip for their children to learn yoga at school. Other limitations were also put on the practice, including “all poses shall be limited exclusively to sitting, standing, reclining, twisting, and balancing” and “all poses, exercises, and stretching techniques shall have exclusively English descriptive names,” the bill states.
“Chanting, mantras, mudras, use of mandalas, and namaste greetings shall be expressly prohibited,” according to the law, which also states local school boards may disallow yoga.
While Gray said Thursday was “a very special day,” he was still unhappy with the stimulations added to the bill before it was passed.
“Although the bill in its current form had amendments added to it in the Senate that aren’t useful, I am determined to work harder to ensure that we remove that language from the bill,” Gray told CBS News.
“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,” Gray said.
Still, Gray called the passage of his bill a “monumental win for the children of Alabama.”