London Police “Abuse Power”, Turning Against Yoga Enthusiasts

London, U.K—Officers of London’s Metropolitan Police Service are being accused of abusing power during the COVID-19 self isolation by turning against a yoga enthusiast and saying yoga isn’t exercise.

Twitter user “Bexmo”, a resident of London, Tweeted, “Just been harassed by ten police officers in a van for being out on London Fields and ‘pretending to exercise’… when we explained that we were doing yoga they said “you can do that at home” and said we weren’t exercising we were “lying on the ground”.

In the UK, people are allowed to leave their house during COVID-19 for essential shopping, such as groceries, and for exercise, which Boris Johnson announced in a live broadcast last week. The exact definition for “exercise” has not been explained. But according to the actions of the London Met, it does not include mind-body exercises, which is especially confusing given that many experts have touted the benefits of meditation, yoga and similar exercises for COVID-19.

Many consider yoga to be one of the best forms of exercise to do during the COVID-19 emergency, because of its combination of physical exercise, meditation and pranayama. Pranayama (yogic breathing) is arguably especially important since many experts are recommending deep breathing exercises at this time [1].

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In England, It Is Legal To Go Out For Essential Shopping And Exercise. Is Yoga Exercise…?

On what basis did the Metropolitan Police officers consider yoga to not be true exercise?

WebMD says that yoga, “does more than burn calories and tone muscles. It’s a total mind-body workout that combines strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing and meditation or relaxation”. They do state that the degree of “exercise” in yoga does vary by type [READ: The different types of yoga].

Some forms of yoga are more “exercise” than others. Power Yoga and Vinyasa, for instance, are very vigorous forms of yoga. But even the gentler forms of yoga, like Hatha Yoga, are more legitimate exercise than walking is. Walking, however, is considered “exercise” according to the government’s guidelines.

Yoga enthusiast Bexmo states that the police did more than simply ask her to go home. “They were smirking at us,” she said in a Tweet. “When I asked if I wasn’t allowed outside they said ‘get walking then we won’t have to move you’ and when I said “I don’t think this is a good use of time” the driver said “Me neither. If idiots like you stayed at home then we wouldn’t have to”.

Bexmo says that she’s been affected by the event. “I’m genuinely fuming about this,” she said. “I was in the park for my one hour a day, doing some gentle exercise (because I’m not very good at yoga) only to be harassed, accused of lying and called an idiot. Unacceptable police state behaviour.”

Since posting her Tweets, Bexmo has received various responses, some supporting her, some in favour of the police. One comment said, “You can absolutely do yoga at home. Which is where they’d like to be but they have to go out and do their jobs, which includes patrolling parks and keeping the people in them to a min.”

Another comment: “You are allowed to leave your house for the purpose of exercise. Yoga is exercise and these police officers have abused their power”.


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By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.

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