Hindu statesman calls on Theresa May to look into Calderdale yoga row

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed has spoken out against a Calderdale church's ruling to ban yoga classes from its church hall.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed has spoken out against a Calderdale church's ruling to ban yoga classes from its church hall.

A Hindu statesman has weighed-in on a row that saw a yoga teacher leave her rental agreement at a church hall in Calderdale.

Earlier this month yoga teacher Melissa Makan, 37, was told her agreement with St John the Baptist C of E Church, which runs the village hall in Coley, was to be terminated at the end of the year after concerns were raised by members of the church congregation.

Vicar James Allison has been invited to try yoga by Hindu statesman Rajan Zed.

Vicar James Allison has been invited to try yoga by Hindu statesman Rajan Zed.

Ms Makan had been delivering her yoga nidra classes at the hall for eight months and has since found an alternative hire agreement in neighbouring Shelf.

In a statement sent from Nevada this morning, Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, asked church officials to "show some maturity by re-visiting the issue and not deprive area residents the valuable opportunities the multi-beneficial yoga provided."

He also urged Prime Minister Theresa May to "look into how St. John’s, a parish of Church of England which reportedly received government funding, could ban classes of ancient and highly useful practice of yoga."

He went on to urge Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to intervene in this matter to allow yoga classes in the premises of St. John’s.

Yoga teacher Melissa Makan

Yoga teacher Melissa Makan

Speaking last week, St Johns' Vicar James Allison said: “Yoga is a rainbow of different experiences and some of our congregation have issues with some styles and teachings.

“Some open-mind meditation can be unhelpful to certain people and great care has to be taken over how it is taught.

“We’ve got no reason to doubt the teacher, but much like in the case of not allowing gambling or alcohol in the community hall, we can’t be responsible for that."

Though now largely modernised, yoga has roots in Hinduism and is one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu-philosophical traditions. Assurances were made to church officials that Ms Makan's teachings were entirely non-religious.

Mr Zed suggested Hindus he had spoken to had been left disappointed by the ruling and indicated that such attempts to ban yoga would "leave many in 21st century multicultural England seriously disappointed, embarrassed and unhappy; many of whom might like to explore various valuable benefits yoga offered."

The statement said: "The United Nations proclaimed June 21 as International Day of Yoga to raise awareness worldwide of its many benefits.

"According to US National Institutes of Health; yoga may help one to feel more relaxed, be more flexible, improve posture, breathe deeply, and get rid of stress.

"In our shared pursuit for the truth; we can learn from one another and thus can arrive nearer to the truth."

He went on to invite Vicar Allison to study a treatise on yoga and attend few yoga classes to have firsthand experience of the discipline.