Alabama lifts ban on yoga in schools – but teachers are still forbidden from saying 'Namaste'

  • 29 May - 04 Jun, 2021
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Mag Files

Alabama public schools will soon be able to teach yoga, though many of the staples that have come to be associated with the practice will be banned. After nearly three decades of being prohibited in public schools within the southern state, Gov. Kay Ivey overturned the ban that was previously implemented by the state's Board of Education back in 1993. The new decision will allow schools the final say on whether or not they want to offer yoga to students within their institutions from kindergarten through 12th grade. Parents will also have to sign a permission slip for their children to practice yoga in schools. The ruling will take effect on August 1, just ahead of the start of the 2021-22 school year. When Alabama students potentially take part in yoga classes in school later this year, many aspects of the practice will look different, however. According to the Times, instructors will not be allowed to say "Namaste" and chanting is also not allowed. Similarly, English descriptions must be given for poses as opposed to their original Sanskrit names. Conservatives in the state have argued that yoga cannot be separated from Hinduism and Buddhism, and that allowing yoga in public schools amounted to the government "promoting religion."