After a nearly 30-year ban, yoga will finally be allowed in Alabama public schools… as long as no one says “namaste.”
In case you need a refresher, the ban was instituted in 1993 as part of a prohibition on “the use of hypnosis and dissociative mental states.”
But this year, a bill sponsored by (Democratic) State Rep. Jeremy Gray to permit the teaching of yoga passed the House 73-25. It passed the Senate earlier this month 23-7. And now Gov. Kay Ivey has signed it into law.
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, induction of hypnotic states, guided imagery, 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.
(Those things are not necessarily Gray’s fault. They’re concessions he had to make in order for the bill to pass. There are also no stated penalties for violated those rules.)
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.
The new bill will go into effect this August, at which point school boards will have the authority to decide whether or not yoga can be taught in their districts.
The New York Times‘ article on the signing included this ending, which is just *chef’s kiss*:
In an email blast from the governor’s press office on Thursday announcing which bills Ms. Ivey had signed, including the one lifting the ban on yoga in schools, Ms. Ivey’s spokeswoman, Gina Maiola, had a Zen moment.
“Namaste,” she signed the email.
(Image via Shutterstock. Large parts of this article were published earlier)