No to namaste? Bill to lift yoga ban stalls

Alabama lawmakers’ efforts to do away with a ban of yoga in public schools have hit a roadblock.

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The Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee did not advance the bill that would allow the teaching of yoga in public schools after two conservative groups objected, saying it could lead to promoting Hinduism or guided meditation, The Associated Press reported.

“If this bill passes, then instructors will be able to come into classrooms as young as kindergarten and bring these children through guided imagery, which is a spiritual exercise, and it’s outside their parents’ view. And we just believe that this is not appropriate,” Becky Gerritson, director of Eagle Forum of Alabama told the committee, the AP reported.

Gerritson said the bill isn’t needed since students can do stretches in school.

But the bill’s sponsor said the debate isn’t about religion, instead, it is about exercise.

“This whole notion that if you do yoga, you’ll become Hindu — I’ve been doing yoga for 10 years and I go to church and I’m very much a Christian,” Rep. Jeremy Gray said, according to the AP.

The Alabama Board of Education prohibited the teaching of yoga, meditation and hypnosis in classrooms in 1993.

The bill introduced by Gray would allow school districts to authorize yoga individually. The practice will be limited to poses and stretches and they would be called English names. There would be no chanting, mantras or using “namaste” as a greeting, the AP reported.

The Alabama House had approved Gray’s bill 73-25. Gray hopes the bill will pass the next time it comes to the committee, the AP reported.