Yoga proposal would have lifted ban in Alabama schools – AL.com

Hangout Music Fest visitors participate in a daily morning yoga session on May 18, 2019. (Lawrence Specker | [email protected])
A draft of proposed rule changes to allow yoga in Alabama’s public schools, presented to the state Board of Education in February, never made it into the final rule book that currently bans it outright.
If it had, students—and their teachers—could be learning the benefits of yoga right now, as long as that yoga wasn't the "spiritual" kind.
The changes, proposed by Alabama State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey to the state's Board of Education at a February work session, drew a clear line between "spiritual" and "instructional" yoga. At the time, Mackey called it a “draft, draft, draft of a draft.”
The proposed rule changes differentiated the two types by defining spiritual yoga as “A practice that combines certain Eastern philosophy and methods of religious training with physical exercises alleged to facilitate the development of the body-mind spirit.”
Yoga remains prohibited in Alabama schools
Yoga – ancient exercise and relaxation techniques that trace their roots to India – remains prohibited in Alabama schools. One Hindu religious statesman wants to know why.
A description of the practice as based in the Hindu religion was struck from the proposal.
Instructional yoga was given a separate definition:
“Instructional use of yoga stretches, exercises, and poses that are intended to improve flexibility and strength are permitted in physical education classes and for faculty and staff exercise on campus before during and after regular school hours if the instruction does not incorporate a religious component.”
Scroll down to see the full proposal given to the state Board of Education at their Feb. 14 work session.
Yoga, along with hypnosis, meditation and guided imagery exercises, has been prohibited in the state’s public schools since 1993. Recent legislative efforts to do away with the ban would have allowed local school districts to determine for themselves whether to incorporate yoga into their curriculum, but it failed.
In August, the president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, urged Alabama officials to “seriously and urgently” revisit the yoga ban.
What yoga ban? Some high school football coaches see benefits
AL.com recently emailed several dozen of the state’s high school football coaches to ask if they incorporate yoga into their strength and conditioning program. Most said they don’t, and when prompted, said they were unaware of yoga’s statewide ban.
In February, Mackey said there had been many calls to lift the ban, but that he'd already been contacted by a lawyer who threatened a federal lawsuit if the ban was lifted. Mackey said he'd reach out to that lawyer to determine his concerns and would not bring the matter back to the board “until we work through some issues.”
Mackey told the board he brought the proposal because the P.E. course of study was being revised, and it seemed like a good time to review the yoga ban.
The board approved the P.E. course of study at their March meeting without changing the ban.
Mackey could not immediately be reached for comment.
Johnson: We, and our stressed out children, need yoga
With so many Alabamians doing yoga, why do we want to stay stuck in "back then" and prevent our over-stressed children from experiencing its benefits, too?
Yoga proposal given to Alab… by Trisha Powell Crain on Scribd
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