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Tuesday, 27 August, 2002, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
Vicar's yoga ban defended
Yoga devotee
Many church halls do accommodate yoga classes
A vicar who banned yoga classes from his church hall has been defended by the Church of England.

The Reverend Derek Smith told yoga enthusiasts they would not be welcome in the church hall of St Michael's Church, Melksham in Wiltshire, because of the practice's connections with the Hindu faith.

The 50-year-old vicar said spiritual leaders in the East insisted yoga was inseparable from Hindu devotional practice.

And a spokesman for the Church of England said it backed the right of clergymen to take a stand against practises which "do not square with Christian teachings".


It's not a religion and it doesn't push any version of one

Jane Hill, British Wheel of Yoga

The spokesman said: "Yoga is used as a kind of generic term for exercise and stretching, but there are many different types of yoga.

"Some have a more spiritual basis as handed down from Eastern religions."

He said the Church of England was keen to promote good relations with other religions but wanted to preserve distinctions in faith.

Mr Smith admitted the ban had upset one woman parishioner but he said: "I would ask people who do yoga to think about whether they believe they were in breach of their faith or not.

"If they genuinely believe what they are doing is acceptable - and I know people that do - of course, I would ask them to follow their consciences."

Open mind

A vicar in Henham in Essex also banned yoga from his church hall in November.

Yoga enthusiasts condemned the move as "ignorant".

Jane Hill, a spokeswoman for the British Wheel of Yoga, said: "It's not a religion and it doesn't push any version of one.

"I don't think it will affect his flock.

"He should have a bit more of an open mind."


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15 May 02 | Education
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