Brooklyn, NY – Hate has no place at Yoga Hell.
That’s the message from the Brooklyn studio’s owner Katia Riva after someone broke into her Manhattan Beach location, busted up her mezuzah and scrawled a large swastika on their blackboard.
Police released security photos of a tattooed skinhead that they believe broke into the E. 17th St. South Brooklyn location and vandalized the place, taking the prayer parchment out of its container and writing “Nazi punk fuck off” next to the hate symbol.
“There’s no place for hate, period,” she told the Daily News. “People are the best and people are the worst. When I saw what happened I said ‘That sucks. Ugh. People suck.’ But there’s no place for hate or discrimination. Yoga Hell is really heaven.”
NYPD investigators say on July 18 at 11:30 a.m. the man snuck in through an unlocked door as someone was leaving.
Riva, who said she conducts classes in the early morning and the evenings, did not know about the vandalism until her night instructor came.
“At first she thought it was vandalism, some kids trashed the studio, but the more she looked the more she saw,” Riva said.
The studio specializes in Bikram yoga where temperatures range from 95 to 104 degrees, hence the name.
Riva said that there’s no special association with Judaism.
“Everyone in New York is Jewish,” she said. There are other religious items in the space that were donated by students.
“It’s a yoga studio, I have a hamsa, I have a mezuzah.”
She said that neither she nor her employees recognize the suspect in the photos.
There has been no incident that she can think of that would cause someone to have a grudge against her business.
“It could be someone who has nothing better to do, who knows,” Riva said. ‘You know it’s really hard. Not a single decent person would do something like that. I wouldn’t say anything [to them]. It doesn’t add up to me what were they trying to prove or what is the message. I don’t get the message.
She said that she’s determined to stay open and committed to her students.
“We didn’t cancel our classes. We’re not going to do it. We’re responsible for our students to keep going. For many people, this is how we start or close their day.”