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Mat Thefts Have TriBeCa Yoga Studio Off Balance

By DNAinfo Staff on November 18, 2009 8:04am  | Updated on November 18, 2009 9:45am

Manuka yoga mats sell for $74 each at Kula Yoga Project, where 30 of them have been stolen.
Manuka yoga mats sell for $74 each at Kula Yoga Project, where 30 of them have been stolen.
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Nicole Breskin/DNAinfo

By Nicole Breskin

DNAinfo Reporter / Producer

TRIBECA – Instructors at the Kula Yoga Project on Warren Street have learned a valuable lesson recently: trendy spirituality and limber bodies don't necessarily lead to honesty.

Since the yoga studio bought 100 posh new mats last month for students to use, 30 have been stolen. 

“It’s disheartening,” said Kula manager Tatiana Ramos. “We work on an honor system here, but you don’t know what people will do.”

After the Kula (which means "community" or "family" in Sanskrit) staff noticed so many mats had gone missing, an e-mail was sent to members warning of the "bad or really the sad news." But no mats were returned.

Kula Yoga Project in TriBeCa.
Kula Yoga Project in TriBeCa.
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Nicole Breskin/DNAinfo

So instructors have taken matters into their own hands. Some are starting their classes with lessons on asteya (Sanskrit for "non-stealing"), which is part of yoga's code.

“Stealing is definitely against yogic principles,” said Kula instructor Jillian Turecki, 35, of NoLiTa. “It’s horrible, pathetic and sad that someone would do this.”

Kula's regular students were shocked that the thief or thieves could be among them.

“Everyone knows everyone,” said Janine Lai, 29, who is a student and a receptionist at Kula. “It’s a pretty close community.”

Lai thought walk-in students might have taken the mats. But instructor Summer Shirey thought the thefts had to do with a poor attitude by some students.

“There’s this mentality that they’re just at the studio, but they can come and go freely,” said Shirey. “There’s a plethora of mats. So one won’t make a difference.”

Kula won't replace the missing mats, which cost $74 a pop, anytime soon. Staffers also insist that despite their misfortune, they don't wish any bad karma on the culprit or culprits.

“Part of yoga is to be compassionate," said Ramos. “I hope they will find a different path. We’ll have to keep a closer eye on things."