Lawmaker, advocates want yoga ban lifted in Alabama schools

Lawmaker, advocates want yoga ban lifted in Alabama schools
9-year-old Liam Luce practices yoga. (Source: WAFF)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Under state law, yoga has been banned from public K-12 schools in Alabama for decades. One state representational is hoping that will change.

State Rep. Jeremy Gray says he’s pushing for a change and is encouraging the teaching of yoga in schools. He says he thinks it could really impact youth and teens in Alabama.

He proposed legislation this past session, however, it didn’t make it to the House floor. He says he’s proposing nother bill to put yoga in schools this upcoming legislative session.

Gray says decades ago, lawmakers banned yoga instruction because they believed it was directly influenced by Hinduism.

Now, he’s working to change the game, saying yoga helps with anxiety, stress, depression and behavioral problems, as well as physical benefits for balance and posture.

One yoga instructor and her national champion student agree.

9-year-old Liam Luce has been practicing yoga for a little more than a year.

“It has helped me with my health and in other sports and with a lot of other things," he said.

The national championship winner says yoga being in public schools can help all students.

Dell Watkins has taught yoga for nearly a decade and says people have several misconceptions about the practice.

“Yoga’s just a practice. It’s a sport. It’s not religion, it’s science. We need to use it more and get out of the mindset that it’s just one way. No, it’s not a religion, it’s a practice, it’s a sport to me," Watkins said.

She started yoga after being an athlete for years.

“The practice of yoga heals the body in the process. You can do what you want. You can play around, you can run, you can jog, you can work out, but you have to take time to heal the body," she said.

Watkins says mindfulness helps with strength, balance and focus in all aspects of life.

Watkins and Luce say healing the body and the mind would really help kids succeed in school.

“The people that are doing just work in school, it would help them too because it would help them focus," Liam said.

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