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House passes bill to end ban on yoga in Alabama schools

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The Alabama House of Representatives has passed a bill ending a ban on yoga in Alabama public schools.

HB235 is sponsored by State Representative Jeremy Gray, D-Opelika. Yoga has been prohibited in Alabama schools since 1993.

Under existing law, instruction in yoga is specifically prohibited in Alabama public schools. HB235 would authorize local boards of education to offer yoga to students in grades K to 12, subject to the following: (1) Instruction in yoga shall be an elective activity. Students shall have the option to opt out in favor of alternative activities, which shall be made available.

Hindus have been lobbying Alabama lawmakers to approve the bill allowing yoga in schools for years.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed urged Alabama state legislators in a statement: “To wake up to the needs of Alabama pupils and support introduction of multi-beneficial yoga in schools. Somebody needed to remind Alabama State Department of Education that we lived in 21st century now.”

Many Alabama public universities and city governments already offered yoga and many Alabama churches hosted yoga classes.

Zed said that Yoga is urgently needed to be incorporated in the lives of Alabama’s students. Zed pointed out that this “prohibition” was clearly doing a disservice to Alabama’s K-12 public school students and denying them the valuable opportunities yoga provided. If yoga was rewarding in universities-cities-churches, why Alabama was keeping it away from its K-12 public school students; Zed wondered;

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Yoga, referred as “a living fossil”, was a mental and physical discipline, for everybody to share and benefit from, whose traces went back to around 2,000 BCE to Indus Valley civilization, Zed indicated.

Rajan Zed further said that yoga, although introduced and nourished by Hinduism, was a world heritage and liberation powerhouse to be utilized by all. According to Patanjali who codified it in Yoga Sutra, yoga was a methodical effort to attain perfection, through the control of the different elements of human nature, physical and psychical.

Zed referenced a report of US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Yoga is the most popular complementary health approach in the United States – used by 14.3% of the adult population, or 35.2 million people.”

Zed is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, stated.

HB235 was cosponsored by Representatives Dismukes, Lawrence, Blackshear, Lovvorn, Morris, Daniels, Hall, Kitchens, Sullivan, Simpson, Drummond, Clarke, Rafferty, Chestnut and Hollis.

The bill now moves on to the Alabama Senate for their consideration.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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