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Alabama has ended a nearly 30-year-old ban on yoga and will now allow it to be taught in schools. Just don’t say “Namaste.”

The ban first went into effect in 1993, and was one of several policies put into place involving religion, including a controversial school prayer bill that was later struck down by courts. 

More than a year ago, Alabama State Rep. Jeremy Gray introduced a bill to revoke the yoga ban. Governor Kay Ivey signed the bill, and local school boards will now decide whether students can be taught yoga in grades K-12.

Yoga is an ancient form of exercise focusing on strength, flexibility and breathing. The practice originated in India about 5,000 years ago, and it is a spiritual practice with connections to Hinduism and Buddhism.

Therein lies the source of conflict for why yoga was banned three decades ago. Some conservative Christian groups fought to keep the ban in place because they argued that allowing yoga in the classroom would expose kids to Hinduism and lead to them converting.

As a compromise, before passing the state legislature, the bill was amended to include a regulation requiring parents to sign a permission slip to allow yoga. Another amendment to the bill says that “Chanting, mantras, mudras, use of mandalas, induction of hypnotic states, guided imagery, and namaste greetings shall be expressly prohibited.” Additionally, the English names of traditional yoga poses must be used. 

Gray is a former college football player and licensed yoga instructor who is also a Christian who attends a Baptist church. He argued that the amendments were unnecessary.    

“The promoting of Hinduism argument is the only talking point these conservative groups have, and it makes them look very misinformed and miseducated on the issue,” Gray previously said to The Guardian.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, yoga has been linked to a variety of benefits. These include everything from managing stress and boosting energy to improving physical health throughout the body.

Chess set.Chess Whiz Kid Could Be a Grandmaster!

Since the COVID-19 lockdown began more than a year ago, the game of chess has been making a rather grand comeback.

Some of the best players in the world have taken the game online and fans are flocking to watch on gaming platforms like Twitch (which is for people 13 years old and up). Also adding fuel to the chess fire is the movie and entertainment industry.

But a 12-year-old is playing the old-fashioned way—with wooden pieces on a board and a chess clock—and has a real shot at becoming the youngest grandmaster the world has ever had!

Already an international master, which is also a lifetime chess title just a step below grandmaster, Abhimanyu Mishra is focused on earning his third norm (an international chess tournament where you must play at least at a 2,600 Elo rating). Players must also reach a chess federation (FIDE) rating to 2,500 or more. The highest rating ever was 2,882 by current world champion Magnus Carlsen in 2014. 

The brilliant homeschooled sixth-grader from New Jersey has been coached by Grandmaster Arun Prasad since Abhi was 6. His coach says Abhi has a nearly photographic memory for games and can recall key moves from those early years.

If Abhi plays well enough, he could become a grandmaster in July, playing a tourney in Serbia where he will take on players from around the world. The field will include at least three grandmasters.

The youngest grandmaster to date is Russian Sergey Karjakin, who at 12 years, 7 months earned his title in 1990. Famous American player Bobby Fischer was 15 when he became a grandmaster. Tucsonan Tal Shaked earned his grandmaster title at age 19.

June 2021