Yoga was banned in the state alongside meditation in 1993, but a new bill proposing to overturn this by Rep. Jeremy Gray is to be debated on 10 March in the Alabama House of Representatives after being passed last Wednesday in the Education Policy Committee.
Gray, who practices yoga and has a bachelor of science degree in sports management explained to CBS how ingrained yoga has become in US culture and what benefits it can have.
“It’s something that, as athletes, have adopted as a culture,” he said. “It also helps me with my discipline and being able to focus and to accomplish my goals.”
However, if the bill is passed there will be restrictions on how people take part in yoga and certain phrases will be prohibited.
“All poses, exercises, and stretching techniques shall have exclusively English descriptive names.” and “Chanting, mantras, mudras, use of mandalas, and namaste greetings shall be expressly prohibited,” according to the bill.
The ban was enforced in 1993 after parents at various schools complained that it endorses “a non-Christian belief system” and that there is a connection between Hinduism and yoga.
It became news again in 2018 when the Alabama Physical Education Instruction Guide was discovered, then quickly deleted.
A Facebook screenshot still survives on AL.com which shows yoga listed first on inappropriate activities, with Duck, Duck Goose and Musical Chairs also included.
According to the instruction guide, yoga is also banned on school property at any point on an academic day.
Gray told CBS that he doesn’t understand the problem, adding: “I mean, my wife does this, my mother does this on the floor of her Methodist church.”