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Benedictine College, a small private Catholic institution in Atchison, Kans., delayed the debut of its recreational yoga classes this spring after some at the college expressed concerns over the spiritual and cultural influences present in yoga teachings.

The college planned to roll out the yoga sessions alongside the opening of a new student recreation center earlier this year, according to Steve Johnson, spokesperson for Benedictine.

“It was meant to be a breathing and stretching exercise class for the health benefits and the stress relief,” Johnson said. “We never had any intent of it to be a religious class.”

However, some factions within the college worried that the yoga teachings would be tinged with “Eastern mysticism,” Johnson said. Still others felt that by excluding the spiritual aspects of yoga and stripping it down to a strictly physical exercise class, it could no longer be called yoga.

Benedictine did begin offering other fitness classes at the recreation center this spring, but the college decided not to offer the yoga class until they could get a better idea of how it should function.

It will be available to students this fall.

“What we’ve done is just kind of clarify that this is a class that is about exercise and doesn’t contain any spiritually or culturally sensitive material,” Johnson said.

Benedictine had already been offering a stretching and breathing academic course through the health education department. The substance of that course will not change, Johnson said, but the course will be renamed to reflect the absence of spiritual, religious or cultural associations.