New Alabama laws: Yoga in schools & dogs in outdoor dining areas

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Smiling dog at Good People Brewing Company outdoor dining in Birmingham
Seeing happy dogs at Good People Brewing Company makes me happy. Photo via Good People Brewing Company’s Facebook

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey was busy this week signing two new laws lifting bans and restrictions on activities that many people thought were legal in the first place.

Yoga in Alabama Schools

Villager Yoga in home yoga
Time for a deep breath of relaxation. Photo via Villager Yoga’s Facebook

Who knew yoga was banned in Alabama’s schools nearly 30 years ago? Thanks to Opelika state representative Jeremy Gray’s legislation, students can now benefit from a practice which is commonly used throughout the state from local YMCA’s to personal training gyms.

Gray, a former college and professional football player, credits yoga for helping him and fellow athletes recover from injuries. 

The legislation, which was signed by Gov. Ivey allows local boards of education to decide whether to offer yoga in  K-12 schools as an elective. The bill requires yoga exercises to be limited to stretches and poses and requires English descriptions for poses. It also forbids the use of certain words, including the word “namaste” a respectful and traditional greeting. 

Despite disliking the restrictions, which were amendments added by the Alabama State Senate, Gray supported final passage of the legislation in the House.

Dogs in Outdoor Dining Areas

Outdoor dining in Birmingham
Just a sample of the dogs you can find at Hop City Beer and Wine. Photo via Hop City Beer and Wine’s Facebook

If you love to hang out for a beer or a meal at a local restaurant patio, no doubt you’ve seen customers bring their pet dogs in from a walk or a “play date” at a nearby park and get turned away by the restaurant manager (not everyone turns customers away).  Surprisingly, in Alabama there are a number of restrictions for dogs at outdoor dining areas.

The new law, which was sponsored by Mobile Rep. Steve McMillan, allows dogs to join customers at outdoor restaurant patios, with a few common sense conditions of course. Bham Now’s Sharron Mendal Swain did a great job explaining the legislation back in March

Some of the elements in the new law include:

  • Restaurants  must  contact the State Health Department + file a waiver that says they will follow the rules to allow dogs on their patios.
  • Have a special outdoor entrance for pups so they don’t have to go through the non-dog areas of the restaurant to get to their designated area.
  • Signage: let everybody know you’ve got a special outdoor dining area for dogs and their owners.
  • No food prep or utensil storage in the outdoor dining area.
  • The doggie dining area has to be minimum 12 feet away from bars or beverage-prep areas.
  • Be sure to comply with all local ordinances with respect to sidewalks, public nuisances and sanitation
  • Pups can’t sit on chairs, benches, seats, etc.
  • Keep your pet (s) on a leash or in a carrier. No free range dogs allowed.
Avondale Brewing Company dogs outdoor dining in Birmingham
Making friends at Avondale Brewing Company. Photo via Avondale Brewing Company’s Facebook

As a resident of Birmingham’s “dog crazy” Southside Neighborhood (I’m a cat guy), the new pet dog patio law is much appreciated by dog owners and restaurants alike.

Both the yoga & pets on restaurant patios laws go into effect August 1.

Now tell us, Birmingham, what do you think of yoga in schools and doggie dining throughout the state? Tag us on social @bhamnow and let us know.


  • Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.