British priest bans ‘spiritual’ yoga from church hall

A British priest has banned yoga from the parish hall because it is “a Hindu spiritual exercise” and therefore “not compatible” with Catholicism, according to news reports.

Cori Withell told The Mirror that with just 10 days remaining in the two-month instruction, St. Edmund’s Church in Southampton canceled her yoga and Pilates classes. She said a parish secretary explained that the hall must be used only for Catholic activities.

The decision to ban yoga or other non-Catholic activities rests with individual priests and is not official Catholic Church policy, the diocese said.

St. Edmund’s priest, Father John Chandler, and the diocese said Withell had misled them by booking the hall for Pilates and later advertising separate yoga classes. They apologized for the inconvenience.

“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,” Chandler said. “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. … It’s not compatible. We are not saying that yoga is bad or wrong.”

It’s been a learning experience for Withell, whose classes were aimed at helping overweight Britons slim down. [more]


USA Today