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I saw the opposite of yoga today. Right here on the streets of River City, a.k.a. Petaluma CA.

At the funky, quaint municipality’s annual “Butter and Eggs” Parade, a beloved event chockfull of small town charm, marching bands, “Cutest little chick” award, fire trucks–you know the sweet scene. (My own hometown, Sonoma, has its version on the Fourth of July.)

You gotta love it when anybody and every group who wants to pass away a spring Saturday representing their business, hobby, or heritage can do just that. And when a near mega-company like Camelback, based in Petaluma, gives back some time, effort, love, and BPA Free water bottle giveways to their local community.

Being a yoga teacher who teaches in a couple of local, women-owned yoga studios, I was happy to see a couple of Petaluma’s yoga studios in the B&E Parade. Being a yoga teacher who has committed to her lineage’s ethnics of not disdaining any other yoga “brand,” I don’t editorialize the teachings of others. Even if I have another, very different world view about the practice and its deeper meanings.

So what did it take this fine, Mayberry wholesome day to stop me in my well-intentioned tracks at the sight of one of the happy representatives moving along Kentucky Street, downtown Petaluma? In the middle of kids in cow costumes, cotton candy scented air, and all the sunshine one can imagine, what did my guileless eyes behold to make me utter the ungodly mantra, &%#$^*)?

Here it is, folks:

“Yoga Hell.”

What the ahimsa?

Begging pardon, but I have to step on my Nag Champa soapbox and say,

#1. Yoga is Heaven, not hell.

#2. The desire to be hot as hell for hot as hell’s sake alone is not yoga. Yes, Tapas is important. Another promise I have made to my own tradition is to include Tapas, or a little inner “heat” to every class I teach. But to emblazon the words “Yoga Hell” above the doors to the store?

I honestly rubbed my eyes in disbelief. And got out my camera. And made another little promise to my own way of being a yoga teacher in this world:

I will never, ever, knowingly intend to evoke any sort or allotment of hell in any of my classes.

And if that is what you are looking for in “yoga,” you won’t find it with me.

Unless your idea of hell is being steady, mindful, and balanced.

Swaha!

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