Devon

Yoga teacher 'barred from Barnstaple church hall hire'

Atsuko Kato. Pic: Peter Wormington, Moonshine Photographer Image copyright Peter Wormington, Moonshine Photographer
Image caption Atsuko Kato said she was "very surprised" she could not hire the hall

A yoga instructor has been told she cannot book a church hall because her activity is "not compatible" with the Christian faith.

Atsuko Kato, who teaches in north Devon, said she was told she could not hire Pilton Church Hall in Barnstaple.

The 54-year-old, whose story was first reported by Devon Live, said she was "very surprised".

Church vicar Rev Nigel Dilkes said yoga was not "compatible with Christian faith".

'Mainstream activity'

When she first started teaching yoga 25 years ago, Ms Kato said she had trouble with other Christian organisations and claimed she was told the practice was "a cult".

Image copyright Google
Image caption Atsuko Kato said she was told she could not hire Pilton Church Hall in Barnstaple

She said staff who deal with hall bookings for St Mary's Church Pilton told her, "we don't let the hall out for yoga".

"I'm surprised [at Pilton Church] because I thought we had moved on a bit," she said.

"I have taught in church halls before and most don't make it an issue.

"People who go to any yoga session can see the benefits for heath, for relaxation. It has become a mainstream activity," she added.

Rev Dilkes said the church could only host activities that acknowledge "there is only one God and that the New Testament person of Jesus Christ is God himself".

He said: "Yoga is one of several activities that claims to confer physical benefits for flexibility and balance but also claims a spiritual connection which doesn't stand this test.

"So we say, why not enjoy Pilates, for example, instead. We would welcome Pilates classes to our church hall."

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