A church in Sydney, Australia has reportedly banned yoga classes from its premises over concerns that the practice could cause "spiritual confusion" and that it may lead to "worshipping false gods."
The Anglican Church in Erskineville will no longer allow yoga classes in its hall after June 30 and other churches across the region have been told by the Sydney church to review such classes that are held on church premises, The Daily Telegraph reported.
The review came after the Social Issues Committee issued a report at the 2015 Synod urging the churches to stop renting spaces for yoga classes "on account of the spiritual confusion this may cause."
The committee argued in the report that yoga must be banned from the church and school halls because it "emerges from an Eastern religious background."
In acknowledging the report, the Synod cited the First Commandment to point out that "as Christ's disciples" they must "avoid participating in the worship of false gods."
The report also suggested that other activities like tai chi, dragon boating and some martial arts must be reviewed because they are contrary to the gospel.
A diocese spokesman noted that the church was reviewing classes on church premises where there was spiritual teaching involved, "as opposed to yoga positions done merely for the sake of exercise."
"The review is ongoing in a number of churches. In the case of Erskineville, conversations have been entered into with class providers but no final decision has yet been taken," the spokesman said.
However, two yoga teachers have claimed that church officials have told them that their rental agreements with an inner west church would not be renewed after July 1 if they continue yoga classes.
One teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, said he will rename the classes to "mindful movement therapy" to get around the church ban. He explained that the class would be banned if he continued to say he was teaching yoga.
Another teacher disputed claims that yoga may push her clients to worship of false gods, arguing that the practice is merely exercise, not religion.
"We're not worshipping anything. We're sharing the joy of yoga, breath, gentle movement, rhythm, deep relaxation. It's not like I'm sacrificing virgins in there," the teacher remarked.
Gillian Farrell, a member of a yoga class held at Erskineville for four years, said that she and other people who attended the classes were disappointed by the church's decision.
Her husband, David Farrell, said that the church should be more aware of its responsibilities to the community rather than labeling yoga as a dangerous activity.