Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Patthabi Jois, the founder of Ashtanga Yoga, was a serial sexual offender.

Many people are still grappling with the aftershocks of having their bodies and trust violate by a teacher.

This is the yoga that I practice and teach. Thought I did not practice with him, I have studied with several of his senior teachers. I have been entrenched in the culture that enabled his abuses long enough to feel the ripple effects of his actions.

I am deeply sorry that throughout the years I mimed and repeated verbiage, arbitrary rules, adjustments, and sentiments that were passed down to me as essential parts of the lineage. I now know better. WE know better. I understand better that many of these sayings, rules, and techniques were integral in giving Jois power. I am in the process of inquiry as to what about the practice is worth salvaging for myself and I have asked my students to do the same. I no longer take anything that has been handed down at face value, regardless of the intentions expressed behind it. That we have been told this practice is ancient is a proven lie. That the sequences are inherently sacred and therapeutic is a falsehood. That the system created by Jois is connected to Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga is not backed up by anything other than Jois family’s assertions that it is, and the repetition of it by his students. These deceptions coupled with tribalism inherent in close groups made it so nobody spoke out when they saw Or heard about Jois’s transgressions. Group think is a real thing. Many of teachers I have admired stayed silent. Some are STILL silent or in denial. This has shaken my faith in the practice more than anything else.  What I aim to teach in my Mysore classes is not obedience and rule following, but agency, embodiment, and compassion. If i have been a catalyst for you to pick up this practice, and if it has negatively affected your life, I am sorry. For my part, I am grateful first and foremost that the system as imperfect as it may be, taught me HOW to practice. And in doing so, it changed my life for the better. I recognize that this is not the case for everyone. I hope that there are enough of us out there who are committed to creating safer, healthier spaces to practice Yoga so that the entire culture shifts. 

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