A NEWLY-qualified shakti dance instructor was shocked after being told she couldn’t hold a class at a community centre for religious reasons.

Tamzin Nav Anada was looking forward to holding her first shakti dance class – a form of yoga – in St James’s Community Centre, Whitehaven, when she was told she would have to find a new venue.

“I just felt very uncomfortable and hurt by the situation,” the Shakti Dance in the Lakes instructor said. “I’m not teaching a religion, I just want to teach yoga.”

The mum-of-one explained that although the dance features “an essence of various religions”, she uses it purely in a healing sense, and wants to share the peaceful experience with others through her classes.

“This area’s highest rate of suicide is in young women and mothers, and I want to give them a space to come together and feel supported,” Tamzin said.

“It says on the community centre website that everyone can use it regardless of religion, gender, race, etc., so to be told I can’t teach shakti dance there is really upsetting.”

The Rector of Whitehaven, the Rev Robert Jackson, explained the decision, saying: “We’re delighted to welcome people to use the community centre, but as it is church-owned, the activities taking place there must fit in with Christian teaching.

“There’s a difference between learning about a religion and practising it, and as channelling goddesses was mentioned, we had to ask Tamzin to not teach yoga there.”