The southern state of Alabama has seemingly out-Alabama-ed itself once again, voting to overturn a 1993 ban on Yoga in schools with a very erm, Alabama-n (?) caveat -- under no circumstances, can anyone even think of chanting, using mantras, uttering the word "namaste" or calling any of the poses by their traditional names, the AP reported. In a 73-25 vote on Thursday, the state's House of Representatives approved a bill bestowing K-12 school districts with the almighty power once reserved for, well, pretty much every school in the other 49 United States, of deciding whether or not they want to incorporate yoga into their physical education curriculum. Nearly 30 years earlier, the Alabama Board of Education banned the practice in schools state-wide, alongside meditation and hypnosis, a move pushed for by conservative groups.
Yet this bill, which is so wildly and radically progressive that even Bernie Sanders and AOC would likely burst into tears and start screaming "ANARCHY!" upon reading the bill's plan to teach some students how to do yoga, was sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Gray of Opelika, a former cornerback at North Carolina State University who says he was introduced to yoga and its benefits through football and maintains the practice can have a positive impact on student's physical and mental wellbeing.
"I've been in yoga for seven years. I know the benefits of yoga, so it was very dear to my heart, and I think Alabama will be better for it," the democratic representative explained, noting that several PE teachers were already teaching the practice, unaware of its legality (oops), with other educators looking to incorporate yoga into their curriculum, especially amid virtual learning.
Now, parents, I know what you're thinking -- "how dare my child learn how to do cat and cow pose, downward dog, or heavens! Shavasana! What is this madness!" Before your pearls turn to dust under the pressure of your clutch, there are a few quintessentially Alabaman caveats to the proposed legislation. Every move must be given an English name, the word "namaste" must not be spoken, and students can opt out and participate in another activity. Yet even with these notable exceptions, several parents have reportedly reached out upset over the bill, as Gray says some representatives "got a lot emails about it being part of Hinduism." Yikes. “Some people’s minds you can never change,” Gray said of the weird, likely xenophobic backlash "If you have to vote your district, I understand it." Alabama, folks!
This is far from the first time the ban has found its way to the forefront of the national conversation in recent years. Back in 2018, the original bill garnered flack after an old document listing yoga and the game of tag as inappropriate activities for P.E. classes. Now if only they'd ban the compulsory square dancing unit ... American P.E. is a mess.
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