Practicing yoga in public schools has been banned in Alabama since 1993 as part of a prohibition on “the use of hypnosis and dissociative mental states.”
That may soon come to an end. A bill sponsored by State Rep. Jeremy Gray to permit the teaching of yoga just passed the House 73-25.
There’s just one catch: The bill includes two wild restrictions:
All poses, exercises, and stretching techniques shall have exclusively English descriptive names.
Chanting, mantras, mudras, use of mandalas, and namaste greetings shall be expressly prohibited.
You can’t say “Om.” You can’t say “Namaste.” Basically, yoga is fine, but don’t make it too brown.
That’s not necessarily Gray’s fault. It’s a concession he had to make in order for the bill to pass.
Twenty-five representatives in the 105-member House voted against the bill. Gray said some House members said they, “got a lot emails about it being part of Hinduism.”
“Some people’s minds you can never change. If you have to vote your district, I understand it,” Gray said.
The irony is that the same Christians who complain about “namaste” have no problem forcing students to say we live in “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. They’re the same Christians who want the Ten Commandments plastered on the walls. They want prayer back in school as long as we’re talking about Christian prayer.
But they’re too dumb to realize that yoga, as it’s practiced in schools, isn’t a form of Hindu indoctrination. “Namaste” isn’t a religious word; it’s generally known as a respectful way to greet someone.
Which means even when the Alabama legislature does something right, it’s infused with conservative Christian ignorance.
For what it’s worth, Gray filed a nearly identical bill last year. That one also passed the House but got nowhere. Hopefully this year’s bill won’t meet the same fate.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)