Alabama Lifts Three-Decade Ban on Yoga in Public Schools, But Sanskrit and Mantras Are Out

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After nearly three decades, the Alabama legislature has finally relented to popular opinion and lifted its ban on yoga in public schools. However, the new law comes with a caveat: yoga instructors are prohibited from using any Sanskrit names for poses, and mantras and chanting are forbidden. Additionally, students must provide a signed permission slip from their parents before participating in yoga classes.

Yoga’s Controversial History in Alabama

The original yoga ban was enacted in 1993, when conservative groups expressed concerns about “inappropriate” physical activities such as yoga, meditation, hypnosis, and playing tag. Eric Johnston, a constitutional lawyer who advocates for Christian groups, explained to the Washington Post that yoga is inherently spiritual. “If you pass a law that says you can do stretches and sit in positions and so forth, that’s fine,” he said. “But to say you can teach yoga is an entirely different thing, because yoga is an exercise of the Hindu religion.”

Arguments Against the Ban

On the other hand, advocates for the repeal of the yoga ban argue that there’s no evidence to support the claim that yoga is inherently religious. Democratic state representative Jeremy Gray, a practicing Christian who has practiced yoga for over a decade, said, “There is no study to my knowledge that says doing yoga exercise converts people to Hinduism.”

New Law’s Restrictions

The new law includes a provision that requires school districts to develop guidelines for yoga instruction that comply with the law’s restrictions. The guidelines must be approved by the state board of education. It remains to be seen how school districts will implement these guidelines and whether the new law will successfully address the concerns of those who opposed yoga instruction in public schools.


The lifting of the yoga ban in Alabama is a significant step forward for proponents of yoga and mindfulness in education. However, the restrictions on Sanskrit names, mantras, and chanting may limit the ability of yoga instructors to teach the full range of yoga practices. It remains to be seen how the new guidelines will be implemented and whether the new law will effectively address the concerns of those who have opposed yoga instruction in public schools.

Author: Mary Smith

Credit and rights to OMG I Yoga
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