AP NEWS

Alabama House votes to lift ban on yoga in public schools

March 10, 2020 GMT

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama on Tuesday inched forward with lifting a decades-old ban on yoga in public schools, but the bill would keep the greeting “namaste” on the forbidden list.

The Alabama House of Representatives voted 84-17 for the bill by Rep. Jeremy Gray, a Democratic legislator from Opelika. The bill is an attempt to reverse a 1993 policy that booted yoga from public schools.

The House-passed bill says local school systems can decide if they want to teach yoga poses and stretches. However, the moves and exercises taught to students must have exclusively English names, according to the legislation. It would also prohibit the use of chanting, mantras and teaching the greeting “namaste.”

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 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.

Alabama Superintendent Eric Mackey said the rule still exists on the state books, although, “we don’t monitor who is doing yoga poses and those kind of things.”

“I think it’s a fine bill,” Mackey said.