Diocese backs church over turning away yoga class

A church that ended a yoga class’s use of its hall because the activity’s roots are “incompatible with the Christian faith” has received support from its diocese.

St Michael and All Angels’ Church made the decision last year.

Church council members informed yoga instructor Naomi Hayama that they were no longer allowing groups linked to “alternative spiritualities” to use their facilities.

Primary purpose

A spokeswoman for the Diocese of Bristol said they support the church’s stance, as decisions on leasing buildings lie with the relevant parochial church council.

A statement from the church said: “The primary purpose of these buildings is the worship of God as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.

“Yoga means the union of “mind, body and spirit”. By definition, therefore, Yoga is a spiritual activity whose roots are not Christ centred.

Agreed notice period

“We are confident we have acted legally and have waived the last nine months of Naomi’s fees, amounting to nearly £1,000.”

The statement also said that in December last year, Hayama told them she agreed to the notice period given.

The church’s leader Revd James Stevenson said, “every church leader I’ve spoken to completely understands this decision”.


The Christian Institute has spoken out in support of the right of St Michael and All Angels’ Church to give notice to the group.

It also noted that this is not the first incident of this kind.

A spokesman said: “Churches are well within their rights to stop groups using their facilities if they run contrary to the church’s beliefs.

Principles and policies

“In 2007 when two Somerset churches refused to hold yoga classes in their buildings, even a national Hindu group accepted that churches must be allowed to stick by their principles and policies.

“We commend this church for using its freedom to say no to this class, and for basing its decision on Biblical teaching.”

Hayama held twice-weekly yoga classes for around 30 people in the church building for nine years.

She has now started a petition to put pressure on the church to change its decision.

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