Yoga studio in trouble over ‘ghetto’ themed class

Today’s lesson in how Western yoga may not quite be at enlightenment comes rom just up the coast from us in Los Angeles: Santa Barbara-based Power of Your Om Yoga.

The studio is under some much-deserved fire for thinking it would be OK to run a ‘ghetto’ themed yoga class. The New York Daily News and the blog Jezebel are spreading the news. Here’s a little from the Daily News:

“Please come dressed in your favorite ghetto fabulous outfit, snap-back caps, corn rows, heavy lip liner or whatever you dream up,” instructs an ad for the class at Power of Your Om Yoga in Santa Barbara.

It’s stamped with the acronym, “N.W.A,” to mean “Namaste with Attitude,” and includes a link to a WikiHow page titled “How to Be Ghetto Fabulous.”

Both also printed responses from the studio’s owner, Adrienne Hengels, who sort of had to respond after people caught wind of the class. From Jezebel:

Thank you all for the eye-opening discussion and I do apologize for offending anyone – those of you that commented, emailed, and anyone else for that matter. The class happened and we are doing other themed classes in the future that may include various types of music/genres and we have made note to focus on the music versus singling out any group of human beings that has the potential to offend others as that was not the intention. I can see how it could be offensive and we do apologize for offending you or anyone.

And the Daily News:

Adrienne Hengels, the studio’s founder, told the Daily News the class “was not meant to offend.”

“It was just meant to be a yoga class with rap music,” she said. “Having that additional piece with ‘ghetto fabulous’ was a mistake. I didn’t realize the stupidity of it until afterwards.”

Entwined in all this is the fact that Santa Barbara is a pretty wealthy, pretty white city. But that doesn’t forgive something so colossally stupid.

We all know what the worst offense is, right? Playing music.

I don’t think any of us need to dwell on the range of levels this is wrong. But I will toss in a comment about one peripheral item involved that always disturbs me: The idea of apologizing for “offending people,” as if what someone has done isn’t wrong regardless of whether people react. That language removes the perpetrator, a little, from the act, and tries to make those who are “offended” a little bit complicit — after all, they got offended. If they hadn’t, nothing would have been wrong.

And that’s wrong.

No one involved here should be sorry for offending people — they should be sorry for doing something so ignorant and stupid that also happens to offend people.

Now let’s see how much mainstream press this story gets. It has all the elements.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

5 thoughts on “Yoga studio in trouble over ‘ghetto’ themed class”

  1. No foul, really. Not much difference than “pretty wealthy, pretty white” people saying namaste, wearing bindis and singing along to Krishna Das. Just a matter of cultural stereotyping.

  2. To each his or her own, I always say. While it seems they are most certainly missing the true point of yoga, this may actually open more doors to yoga practice, certain people may go to this class, and then branch out to a more traditional one.

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