The state of Alabama lifted a ban on teaching yoga in public schools nearly three decades ago.
Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday signed a bill that would allow K-12 public school boards to approve yoga instructions, said her press secretary, Gina Maiola. The governor did not comment.
The Alabama Board of Education banned yoga in state public schools from 1993 onwards.
In consolation to conservative opponents, legislation by Democratic Rep. Jeremy Gray prohibits greetings of “namaste,” singing, and other spiritual expressions from yoga.
Gray did not immediately respond to a request for comment. On March 11, he said on Facebook: “Studies have shown that yoga also helps children cope with daily stressors. [as] help improve behavior, concentration, mobility, flexibility and strength “.
“Alabama public schools will no longer be prohibited from offering yoga during physical education classes,” the state Democratic Party said in a statement. The bill “prioritizes the health and well-being of our children and incorporates Alabama schools into the 21st century.”
The legislation resisted opposition from conservatives, including the Alabama Eagle Forum, which argued that allowing yoga in schools violates the boundary between religion and public education.
In an email blast that included an image of Asian women practicing yoga, the forum described it as “possibly dangerous to a child’s spirit and mind.”
Montgomery Advertiser journalist Brian Lyman posted on Twitter that banning yoga was one of the “stupidest moral panics in Alabama history.”
The Los Angeles-based self-realization scholarship, which helped establish yoga in the United States, did not want to weigh in because it has a policy against engaging in political issues, a spokeswoman said.