Health & Fitness

Alabama could allow yoga in public schools after a 28-year ban

Mr. Gray indicated that his bill would allow schools and students to make their own decisions about whether to offer or attend yoga classes. It is also said that public school teachers cannot say “namaste,” a greeting often used in yoga, or any type of chant.

“You have to compromise to get this bipartisan support,” he said.

Most of the time, Mr. Gray encountered the problem by accident. In a speech at a public high school in Auburn, Ala., In 2019, he mentioned that yoga had helped him keep grounded while juggling responsibilities.

After he explained, the teachers informed him that they could not arrange exercises for their students. “That’s how I learned it was banned,” said Mr. Gray.

Around the time of the ban in 1993, the state’s parents raised concerns not only about yoga, but also about hypnosis and “psychotherapeutic techniques.” According to an April 1993 article in The Anniston Star, a mother in Birmingham said her child brought home a relaxation tape that made a boy “visibly high,” The Montgomery Advertiser reported.

But for Mr. Gray, a former soccer player, yoga has long been a useful part of his training schedule. The gentle stretches helped him cool off after a workout, while the breathing exercises strengthened his lungs. (That, he added, may have helped him recover quickly from a Covid-19 attack last year.)

He put forward his first bill to challenge the yoga ban in 2019, but it quickly failed. His second attempt passed the house in 2020, but was pushed into the background because of the pandemic.

This time Mr. Gray is optimistic about the bill’s prospects. He said a Republican Senator, Tom Whatley, has agreed to drive legislation in the Senate, where Republicans like the House have a majority. (Mr. Whatley didn’t immediately respond to an email asking for comment on Friday.)

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