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D.C. Yoga Community Protests

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By Patrick Madden

D.C.'s yoga community is tied up in knots over a suggestion to tax yoga classes. The move would help the city close its half-billion dollar budget gap, but many practitioners aren't exactly taking this lying down.

At yoga studios across the city, people are breathing easier. D.C. Council Chair Vincent Gray says the city will not consider taxing yoga classes and gym memberships.

Over the past 24 hours there's been a deluge of emails and letters to city council members blasting the idea and early this morning yoga instructors like 'Gianti' held outdoor classes in front of city hall.

"My real name is Anne Harrison; Gianti is my yoga name, which means victorious," she says.

And the yogis were. They apparently convinced city leaders to scrap the proposal.

"Tax the clothing we see; tax the books we sell," she says, "that's all well and good. But yoga is a spiritual tradition and it helps a lot of people," says Harrison.

The D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute had been pushing the idea to include yoga and other services under the city's sales tax. The institute's Director Ed Lazere says he wasn't trying to punish yoga.

"The reality is the sales tax isn't about taxing things we like or don't like, the sales tax is about covering consumer purchases not at value judgment and the best sales tax is the one that covers as many purchases as possible," says Lazere.

But according to the council's actions today, this is one constituency better left in peace.

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