nwa yoga class

Remember when N.W.A stood for “N*ggas With Attitude”? Well a California yoga studio came up with a novel idea and took N.W.A to a whole different level.  Namaste. With. Attitude. As part of it’s “ghetto fabulous” themed class yogis wore do-rags and threw up gang signs, which prompted accusations of racism from critics.

“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.

Ahh, cornrows are ghetto. So are snap-backs. Lip liner? Really?

In an interview with the Daily News, Om Yoga founder Adrienne Hengels, said she didn’t mean it guys!

“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.”

But people in the Santa Barbara community still have a few bones to pick with Hengels. They’ve taken their protests to the studio’s Facebook page:

Sarita King

To the owners of POYO: As a black citizen of Santa Barbara, and one who firmly believes that we ALL should all explore various forms of exercise for both personal and spiritual growth, I am disgusted that you have chosen to mock blacks with your “Ghetto Fabulous” class. You may have thought that this would be hip, funny or even something that could “cross cultural lines” but you were seriously wrong. Inviting people to come to class “dressed in your favorite ghetto fabulous outfit, snap-back caps, corn rows, heavy lip liner or whatever you can dream up” is as embarrassing and degrading as asking people to come dressed in black face and play banjos. What the hell were you thinking? I’ve been thinking that it would be great to get back into my practice and was actually considering your facility. What if I had walked into your studio to check out a class – how the hell would you have explained a room filled with whites mocking blacks to me? Just how would you have back pedaled your way around this? You may not have realized it but you have really stepped in it with this and in case you are not aware, people in SB are way more enlightened than you and this cockamamie concept of a yoga class. To show how insensitive and ignorant you are, the lame wiki you linked to that showed your students how to dress, well it just shows clueless and bigoted side that I would never expect to see anywhere. Hell, to show how clueless you are – here’s a tip – go back and read that wiki fades went out in the late 80’s and only the unintelligent would think that any black (ghetto, bougie, or otherwise) would be caught in such a time warp. If you thought that you were being cool adding that link – you failed miserably and it just reinforced to me and many others – that you are out of touch with the rest of the modern and enlightened world. I shudder to think that you may take your concept to other degrading stereotypes – Latino night in bright colors and high heels, Asian night with all women subversive and men in fake fu Manchu, or hey how about Native American – best headdress wins a tee pee…??? And if you have any idea of doing this – I urge you to get that idea out of your head NOW! I don’t even feel that you owe the black community an apology; no I feel that this goes beyond the pale and you own everyone who has ever done a downward dog or a child’s or warrior’s pose or a sincere heartfelt and mindful apology today.

Margot Goldstein

You and your staff need to immediately go to some sort of workshop dealing with white supremacy. That ‘ghetto fabulous’ incident tells not only a lot about the leadership, but is a reflection of your customers as well-so maybe you should start funding anti-racist workshops in your space as well as yoga-now that would be an apology + ACTION.


In response to the outrage and embarrassment of her “slip up”, Hengels changed the class name from “Ghetto Fabulous” to “Hip Hop Yoga,” but is still keeping the playlist.

“In the future, special classes will focus on the music, not the culture they’re associated with, Hengels said.

Namaste, y’all.

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