UK church bans yoga classes from its premises

published on September 27, 2012

LONDON: A church in Britain has banned yoga classes from its premises as the ancient Indian system of physical exercise was “not compatible” with the Catholic faith, according to a media report here on Wednesday.

Yoga instructor Cori Withell said the classes she booked for yoga and pilates at St Edmund’s Church building in Southampton were cancelled with 10 days to go.

 According to the Sun tabloid, Withell was told by the church administration that it was because yoga is a Hindu religious activity.

Father John Chandler from the church said the hall has to be used for Catholic activities and he banned it because it was advertised as “spiritual yoga”.

Chandler said, “Yoga is a Hindu spiritual exercise. Being a Catholic church we have to promote the gospel and that’s what we use our premises for.”

Withell said the church accepted the booking two months ago and she paid 180 pounds.

She was called later and told that yoga was from another religion so she could not have the hall. A separate pilates class she had booked was also cancelled.

“I had never heard about any religious issue with yoga before but I have looked into it since and found that some other religions feel that when people meditate it could let the devil inside them,” she said.

“But there was never any meditation in my class – it was just exercises. Yoga is not religious: spiritual, but not religious.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Portsmouth Catholic Diocese said: “It’s not possible for Catholic premises to be used for non-Christian activities and there is a dilemma with yoga as it can be seen as Hindu meditation or as relaxation.”

“There is no national policy on this and the decision is for each priest.”

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