Over the years Yoga, an ancient Indian origin practice and discipline has become a global rage but in recent shocking developments it is learnt that the practice has been banned in Alabama public schools. The reason behind the ban was raised by conservative representatives in the southeastern U.S. state who were worried yoga could lead to the promotion of Hinduism or guided meditation practices. Back in 1993 the Alabama Board of Education voted to prohibit school personnel from “using any techniques that involve the induction of hypnotic states, guided imagery, meditation or yoga.”

The proposed legislation further cited that any forms of chanting, mantras and “namaste” greetings would be prohibited. It would also mandate that all the yoga poses have English names. The committee felt yoga is a very big part of the Hindu religion and mainly the opposition and ban lies for its close ties with Hinduism. If passed, the Alabama Bill would reinstate teaching yoga in public schools after a 30 year old ban. The 1993 ban garnered attention in 2018 when a document circulate deeming yoga, dodgeball and kickball as inappropriate gym activities. The bill further states if allowed the poses, exercises and stretching techniques will be limited exclusively to sitting, standing, reclining, twisting, and balancing. This speaks volume about American secularism and yet no American media maven will be writing tons of op-ed in Indian newspapers on the state of religious tolerance in US.

Such insecurity prompts severe fears and conservative views against what is a very universal, inclusive practice rather. The state of Alabama also stated that all poses and stretching are required to use “English descriptive names” as opposed to chanting, mantras, mudras, use of mandalas and namaste greetings will not be allowed. Yoga as a practice in many previous instances had faced the wrath when many conservatives across the world tried to discredit this form of exercise for promoting Hinduism and Hindu culture. Democratic representative Jeremy Gray of Opelika said some of his “colleagues report receiving a lot of emails about it being part of Hinduism.”

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