A bill in Alabama that would have lifted the 1993 ban on yoga in public schools has stalled in the state’s Senate, CBS News reported Thursday.
During a hearing of the Alabama state Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, representatives from two conservative groups objected, stating concerns that yoga could promote Hinduism and guided meditation practices, Associated Press reported.
“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,” said Democratic State Rep. Jeremy Gray, who sponsored the bill that has stalled in the state’s Senate.
Gray, who is also a former cornerback from North Carolina State University, said that he was introduced to yoga while playing football. He said yoga could provide many physical and mental benefits for students.
The bill, which was first introduced in 2019, would have allowed yoga as an elective course to students from kindergarten to grade twelve, and they would have learned yoga poses, exercises and stretching techniques. The bill further states that, “chanting, mantras, mudras, the use of mandalas, and namaste greetings shall be expressly prohibited.”
“I can give you tons of reasons why yoga is beneficial and those reasons are backed by studies and data. There is no study to my knowledge that says doing yoga exercise converts people to Hinduism,” Gray wrote in an email to CBS News.
Under the legislation, children would “have the option to opt out in favor of alternative activities, which shall be made available.”
“This bill is not making anyone do yoga, it’s just making it an option which will be left up to local boards of education,” Gray said in an email to CBS News.