Mosque introduces controversial mixed yoga classes

“We know this might clash with some of the beliefs held by Muslims, but we’re focusing on the wellbeing and physical benefits of yoga rather than spiritual [practices].”

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A local mosque is introducing mixed yoga classes in an attempt to attract the next generation of worshippers. Yoga is usually associated with spiritual Hindu traditions and mixed classes are controversial to some Muslims.

Erkin Guney, the chairman of Shacklewell Lane Mosque, said he wants to “modernise how we bring the message to the table”, after seeing a decline in the engagement of young people with the mosque.

Kuzeye Ersen, 44, has been a yoga instructor for 10 years and will run the sessions at Shacklewell. He said: “We know this might clash with some of the beliefs held by Muslims, but we’re focusing on the wellbeing and physical benefits of yoga rather than spiritual [practices].”

Guney’s long-term plan includes changing the mosque from a traditional place of worship into a “Multicultural Healing Centre and Mosque”. He believes that he must offer initiatives that will attract new visitors, in order to support a culturally diverse community.

Fatima Abbas, 32, a visitor to the mosque, said she welcomes the effort, but feels  uncomfortable. “It feels like they’re trying too hard. Mixed yoga sessions are not permissible within the faith and it distracts from the fact people just come to their mosque to pray.”