One of the more interesting things about our community is that religious worship extends far beyond traditional Baptist or Methodist faiths. There are several Christian denominations, Judaism, Islam and Hinduism, as well as organized spirituality centers. Representatives of these groups gather each Thanksgiving for a special inclusive service.
That’s why it’s difficult to understand why Alabama lawmakers in 1993 chose to prohibit yoga in public schools because of its ties to Eastern religion.
We understand the establishment clause of the First Amendment, and the litigation that led to the prohibition of school-led prayer, but it’s difficult to see how the availability of yoga is any more an endorsement of Hinduism than track and field are an endorsement of Greek paganism.
Yoga has become a popular vehicle for physical and mental health, and it has many practitioners who have no interest in adopting Hinduism. In fact, yoga is offered in some churches as a recreation and wellness benefit to members of the congregation. On Feb. 27, a local Baptist church held an event called “Holy Yoga.”
Alabama lawmakers are considering a measure that would lift the ban and allow public students to participate in yoga classes if they choose. It’s a change worth approving.