A VICAR has rallied to support a yoga teacher banned from holding toddler classes at two Taunton churches.

Louise Woodcock was told her Yum Yum Yoga sessions for pre-school youngsters were not welcome in Silver Street Baptist and St James CofE church halls.

As revealed exclusively in last week's County Gazette, she was told yoga was a "sham" and was incompatible with Christianity.

But the Rev Nick Taylor, Anglican team rector at Wilton, revealed that he regularly uses yoga postures with Christian meditation "to help awareness, centring, wholeness and health".

He added: "As my being calms down in the presence of the Christian Trinity, I become a more open channel to God, who also protects me from any darkness.

"It's a shame if people emphasise the differences between philosophies and faiths in this divided age, when everything needs to be done to build dialogue and find common ground."

The Rev Simon Farrar, minister at Silver Street, refused to allow Miss Woodcock to hold the classes there because yoga was out of line with the "Christian ethos".

At St James, the Rev Tim Jones said he wanted "the real thing" rather than apparently harmless "sham" alternative philosophies.

He added: "It's encouraging people to think there's a way to wholeness of body and mind through exercise, relaxation and other human techniques, where the only real way to wholeness is by faith in God, through Jesus Christ."

Meanwhile, Miss Woodcock, of Waterleaze, has been inundated by Press and media following up our story - she even featured on Indian television.

"It's certainly raised the profile of my classes," said Miss Woodcock, who says her sessions simply involve "music, movement and rhymes".

"All my friends and people I've spoken to think the ban is a bit silly and doesn't make much sense."

*For more on this story and a selection of your views, see Thursday's Somerset County Gazette.