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The Bill to Overturn a Ban on Yoga in Schools Stalls in Alabama

Legislators were deadlocked over the 28-year-old ban after conservative lobbyists expressed fear that children will be exposed to Hinduism. Of course, yogis on Twitter had plenty to say.

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. 

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.

Read more: Legislation, Appropriation, and the Battle Over Yoga in Schools

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.

Others pointed out the hypocrisy of the Senate’s decision.

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. 

@JaideepAdhvaryu agreed that yoga may have dodged a colonial bullet.

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.