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Dear "Thug Yogi"...

Updated: Jun 14, 2020

I was having an otherwise pleasant Tuesday before coming across your 'alternative yoga practice' entitled Thug Yoga. I taught a ocean-view yoga class with a variety of tunes in the background. The xx, RITUAL, Hippie Sabotage - you probably know these names.

I dig a yoga class with great music, just like you do. I haven't, however, seen such a flagrant display of disrespect for two cultures under the guise of such a sacred practice.

You got fusion all wrong.

Let's start with the name, shall we?

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the term 'thug' refers to "a brutal ruffian or assassin." Google's dictionary defines said term as " a violent person, especially a criminal." Historically speaking, the term 'thug' has been used to criminalize, demonize and justify brutality toward black and brown people.

It's ironic that that's the term you decided to go with after playing Snoop Dogg in your class. Hm.

This same term has been used to justify the deaths of black men for decades. I remember it being tossed around after several young black men were killed. Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice - do you know any of these names? They won't ever have the chance to listen to Snoop Dogg again, and yet here you are making a profit off of a term that got them killed.

I also recently learned that the term 'thug' originates from an Hindi term 'thuggee'. How you managed to land on this term for your class without connecting it back to its roots is beyond me.

I don't even have the bandwidth to get into your renaming of poses. Referring to Ananda Balasana as "Brazilian Landscape Inspection" is horrifying. How did you get from a happy baby to a brazilian wax?

At best, what you're doing is yoga with beer and hip-hop. That's it. As an avid hip-hop fan, black woman and yoga teacher, I couldn't be more disgusted with your attempt at infusing my culture with yoga in such a distasteful way. Do better.


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