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Image: Unholy communion, a yoga class taking place

A Catholic priest has banned yoga from being practiced at a church hall and has described the form of exercise as "not compatible with the Catholic faith".

An local independent yoga teacher, Cori Withell, was due to begin giving yoga and pilates classes at St Edmunds Church building next month, but was told her booking had been cancelled on religious grounds.

Father John Chandler said yoga was "from another religion" and therefore didn't comply with the requirement of the hall being used solely for Catholic activities.

Father 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. (When taking the booking) 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."

* There does seem to be a particular distaste towards yoga among the Catholic church.

The Southampton ban comes a year after Father Gabriele Amorth, formerly the Vatican's chief exorcist, claimed that yoga - and Harry Potter novels - were "evil and of Satan".

Speaking at a festival in Umbria, Italy in November 2011, father Amorth said: "Practicing yoga is Satanic, it leads to evil just like reading Harry Potter."

The current Pope is no fan, either. Before being named Pope Benedict XVI, cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In 1999 he famously produced a document which warned Roman Catholics of the dangers of yoga, Zen, transcendental meditation and other 'eastern' practices.

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A Catholic priest has banned yoga from being practiced at a church hall and has described the form of exercise as 'not compatible with the Catholic faith'.
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