No Child’s Pose for school children in Alabama. A bill that sought to overturn a 28-year ban on yoga in schools deadlocked in the state Senate, according to the Associated Press. HB 246 would have reversed a 1993 bill that prohibited yoga from being offered in schools. In March, it passed in the state house on a 73–25 vote.
First yoga was banned, then it was going to be unbanned, then banning was upheld. https://t.co/dle13LUwON
— 🌅Yogi Baba Prem🌕 (@YogiBabaPrem) April 1, 2021
The bill stalled in the Senate after two conservative groups claiming to represent Alabama parents objected on the grounds that doing yoga would lead school children down the path to Hinduism.
“So much of this is asinine,” Representative Jeremy Gray, who introduced the bill that would have lifted the ban, told USA Today. “I’ve been doing yoga probably for 10 years now. I’ve taught classes for five years, and I can tell you I still go to a Baptist Church every Sunday.”
Proponents of overturning the ban note that “yoga” as defined by the bill was hardly a Hindu practice—and barely yoga. It specified that “chanting, mantras, mudras, use of mandalas, and namaste greetings shall be expressly prohibited.” The practice would be focused on basic poses taught by English names—no Sanskrit. And it would be optional for students.
Gray argued that even the watered-down version would be good for kids, and cited research on the mental and physical benefits of yoga for students. But still, state senators couldn’t support it.
Many yogis took to social media to voice their opinions on the matter. Some were incredulous.
Seriously, is it the fear of down dog?
Can “flexibility” be held accountable for one’s belief system?
Conservatives can stand on their heads, Yoga is good for the mind and body.https://t.co/5ezrCjdtth#DemVoice1 #freshvoicesrise#wtpEDU #ONEV1 Z22
— 𝔗𝔥𝔢𝔈𝔪𝔭𝔩𝔬𝔶𝔶𝔢𝔫𝔱𝔞 𝓐𝓴𝓪𝓣𝓲𝓷𝓪 (@TheEmployYenta) April 2, 2021
Others pointed out the hypocrisy of the Senate’s decision.
Yoga still banned in Alabama public schools as Christians think it will cause kids to convert to Hinduism while Christian missionaries spending billions to convert people globally , how ironic of secular America.
— परमाणु भारद्वाज (@enigma_logician) April 1, 2021
This is infuriating. I had to bow my head and partake in Christian prayer at virtually every event within the Alabama public school system – but yoga definitely promotes Hinduism 🤡 https://t.co/ttxXbAhrDf
— roro (@rohan_palanki) April 2, 2021
But @indumathi37 sees a “plot twist.” In a way, recognizing the Hindu roots of yoga could be seen as a step toward ending the whitewashing of yoga.
Correction: Racist Alabama by mistakely decolonizes western yoga industrial complex discourse by recognizing that Yoga is Hindu. https://t.co/i2qnFUsYcn
— Dr. Indu Viswanathan (@indumathi37) April 1, 2021
@JaideepAdhvaryu agreed that yoga may have dodged a colonial bullet.
I rather have it recognized as Hindu and not taught out of their narrow mindset, versus, teaching a non-hindu-ized yoga.
Its a package deal. Take yoga with its Hindu DNA or nothing.
— Jaideep Adhvaryu (@JaideepAdhvaryu) April 1, 2021
Meanwhile, Gray told CBS News on Thursday that the bill remains on life support. After the split vote, Alabama’s Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Tom Whatley carried the bill over so it wouldn’t die in committee. This gives Gray the option to re-introduce the bill at a future date.
People like @dhp_mitchell are offering solidarity.
I feel sorry for every decent person who is forced by circumstances to live in Alabama
And I will take up yoga as a form of nonviolent protest
Pray that I don’t become Hinduized
— David Mitchell (@dhp_mitchell) April 2, 2021