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Catholic Church Bans 'Hindu' Yoga Classes

A church in Southampton cancels yoga classes on the grounds that it is a "not compatible" with the Catholic faith.


A row has broken out because a priest has banned yoga from a church hall on the grounds that "yoga is a Hindu spiritual exercise".

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' notice.

She was told by the church booking secretary that it was because yoga was a Hindu religious activity.

Father John Chandler, from St Edmund's, said the hall has to be used for Catholic activities and he banned it because it was advertised as "spiritual yoga".

The ban is not Catholic Church policy and decisions are left to the discretion of individual priests. Some Catholic retreats use yoga for relaxation.

Ms Withell, 37, from nearby Eastleigh, said the church accepted the booking two months ago and she paid £180.

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.

  St Edmund's Catholic Church has banned yoga and Pilates classes

"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."

Fr Chandler said the church was "misled" by Ms Withell's booking. He claimed that at first the hall was booked for Pilates, and then he found out it was also for spiritual yoga.

"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.

"We did say that yoga could not take place. It's the fact that it's a different religious practice going on in a Catholic church," he explained.

Father Chandler added he had not researched what Ms Withell's class would have included and he had not spoken to her about the issue because he felt "the relationship had got off to a bad start".

A spokesman 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."


September 27, 2012 @10:23 am

How about Bishop's Middle Finger..!?? How much are people going to stand for??!

S Silver

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