Many yoga lovers would argue that their practice is not a sport, even in the most untraditional sense of the word. However, the Office of Tax and Revenue in Washington, DC has instilled what people are calling a “yoga tax” on yoga studios in the area. Technically, DC.gov says the 5.75 percent Sales and Use tax applies to “a fitness club, fitness center, or gym the purpose of which is physical exercise.” This, in their opinion, includes yoga studios.
Members of the yoga community are arguing that yoga in fact has nothing to do with exercise, rather its main focus is on the improvement of the body, mind and soul collectively.“None of us in the yoga community think the purpose is physical exercise,” Richard Karpel, president of Yoga Alliance, told CQ Roll Call. “Yoga is the union of the body, the mind and the spirit … The idea, when you practice yoga, is to create that union.”
This also raises the question as to whether yoga is more spiritual than anything else, and if that’s the case, then the tax shouldn’t apply. “Yoga was one of the six systems of orthodox Hindu philosophy whose traces went back to around 2000 B.C.E.,” Hindu leader Rajan Zed said in a statement. “Yoga was the repository of something basic in the human soul and psyche and regulating it was kind of a religious infringement.”
The tax went into effect on October 1st to all fitness studios and gyms, and from the looks of it, it doesn’t seem like yoga studios will be exempt in the future.