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## **Yoga Ban in Alabama: A Contested Legislative Journey**


In 2019, Alabama state Representative Jeremy Gray highlighted the state’s ban on yoga in public schools during a talk at a local high school. Despite its widespread popularity, yoga has been prohibited in Alabama’s public schools since 1993.

Origins and Implementation of the Ban

The ban was adopted by the Alabama Board of Education in 1993. It states that “School personnel shall be prohibited from using any techniques that involve the induction of hypnotic states, guided imagery, meditation or yoga.”

Representative Gray’s Initiative to Overturn the Ban

Inspired by his own yoga practice, Gray introduced Alabama House Bill 246 (HB 246) in 2019 to repeal the ban. Gray argued that yoga promotes physical and mental well-being and should be accessible to students in public schools.

Opposition to the Bill

HB 246 has faced significant opposition from conservative groups, such as the Eagle Forum. These groups have expressed concerns that exposing children to yoga will promote Hinduism. The bill was amended to prohibit the use of the word “namaste” as a compromise to gain bipartisan support.

Historical and Cultural Context

The anti-yoga sentiment in Alabama echoes historical anti-Hinduism rhetoric. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Hindus were often perceived as a cult aiming to convert others. These sentiments have resurfaced as yoga has gained popularity in recent years.

Current Status of the Bill

HB 246 is currently awaiting approval from the powerful Rules Committee before it can be sent for debate in the state Senate. If the bill is voted down by the committee, it will not advance further.

Prospects for the Future

The fate of HB 246 remains uncertain. Supporters of the bill, including the Coalition of Hindus of North America, believe that it will help Alabama embrace cultural diversity and promote the well-being of its students. Opponents, however, remain steadfast in their belief that yoga promotes Hinduism and should be kept out of public schools.


## **Author:** Jane Doe

## **Credit and Rights:**

Credit and rights for the article belong to OMG I Yoga.

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