I recently read an article from 2012 about what led to the fall of a very popular Yoga Teacher John Friend and his internationally recognized style Anasaura Yoga.. It was his sexual escapades with married employees and teachers which led to his downfall.
Back in 2012 only quiet dribbles of these escapades would come out and then they were gone. There was (is) Bikram Choudhury Founder of the “hot” Bikram Yoga style. Yogi Desai resigned as spiritual director of Kripalu yoga center. He was married and preached abstinence (brahmachara) to his followers.
In the 90’s there was a well known Iyengar teacher in trouble over inappropriate touching while adjusting. He received a slap on the hand with probation and is now back in full force as one of school’s main teachers.
In 1992 I lived at a Zen Buddhist Monastery in the Catskills.
It was headed by a well respected married Japanese zen master (Roshi)
In the winter of that year a resident came forth to say she was having sex with the Roshi during Dokusan (a private interview between student and zen master) It was a big scandal and upset the Sanga (group). The group partially broke up as some left the monastery and the teacher while others devotedly stuck it out and he continued to head the center. Since then more and more came out about his behavior and he has since left his position.
One of the largest western Buddhist organizations has had investigations into sexual misconduct and what surprised me was one woman’s response to some details that I will exclude which led her to this: “I was so embarrassed and horrified I did it.” she said she was torn because of her devotion and losing her place within the inner circle. Often times in this situation a student may even confuse such advances as part of the teaching or testing the student to further her spiritual journey.
On and on…the list is long
It is also helpful to understand the evolution of Yoga as a new spiritual trend in our modern western world.
These practices did not begin from a western mind. Or a western culture. They were introduced by men from India, China, and Japan, invited to the US to share their knowledge and teachings to a ripe inquisitive and thirsty young population. As Teachers from the East brought their brand of spiritual teachings to the West, they were greeted with devotees seeking to trade their Judeo-Christian upbringing for a more liberating, modern, exotic experience. In Cultures that these practices were taught, they were mainly dominated by male students. These teachers were themselves seduced by the freedom and ease of western women who were also free enough to be part of the growing trend.
The 1970’s were the coming of age of yoga in the West. In the world of exotic teachings and new age hippie culture this was a common occurrence. There was The Rajneesh movement comprising persons inspired by the Indian mystic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh which emphasized sexual freedom as an integral part of his teachings. Tantra Yoga includes the deeper teachings of sexual union, and teachers have started entire schools based on this.
From the beginning of the 60’s “cultural revolution” young women were groomed to believe that they could be as sexual as the men who lusted after them. And the men, as well grew up in the mood of these times. They went off to study yoga in exotic places and became teachers in a time where sexual freedom was ripe and accepted.
Back in the early 60’s and early 70’s it wasn’t #ME TOO, it was ME too! When is it my turn?
A typical yoga class is 90 percent women. In the earlier days of being in classes we wore loose fitting, comfortable clothing. Nothing flashy or skimpy, just comfy. Look into any classroom and see the fashion. Sexier is the desired look. One of my favorite teachers had to ask a female student to please wear underwear since her see through leggings were uncomfortably distracting.
A yoga teacher symbolizes spirituality sensuality and freedom. Yoga is a sensual tactile practice. It is a practice of feeling, opening and letting go. The combination of male power and spirituality is as seductive as money and power to the woman who feels that she is singled out as the special one.
The world of Hollywood is only one avenue. Women are in the position where they feel special when a man of power (financial, spiritual, political) “chooses” them. They actually believe that they have been elevated to the position of teachers’ pet because “He sees something special in me”
In the spiritual world this is an especially dangerous combination since it is feeding her ego and creating a controlling dominance. All under the guise of spirituality As women in Hollywood want to hold on to and advance their career choices, women in the spiritual world want to be close to the teacher. Not to gain a better position (pardon the pun) but to be positioned next to him. To reap that spiritual essence and enjoy his sensual awareness. I doubt a woman would say that about Harvey Weinstein.
So when the woman realizes she isn’t the only one… Trouble!
So for the Western male yoga teacher who grew up when it was drugs sex and yoga and now being bit in the behind…It’s kind of funny
I saw it I lived it.
The laws made by man can attempt to change the behavior in the urban jungle but the laws of nature and the real jungle are written in our DNA. A Zebra doesn’t change it’s stripes.
Hell has no fury like a woman’s scorn.
I was watching a podcast of a teacher I sometimes follow. He was using one student to demonstrate an asana. Without asking her in just a matter of seconds she removed her sweatshirt, then her T-shirt , and finally her long pants so he could see her pose better.
This is what male yoga teachers are subject to and as the once very popular teacher referred to at the beginning of this article thought, “I believed they were all consensual”
I too believe they were until they weren’t.
So, have no delusions of what goes on in the world of men and women. Politics, Hollywood, Yoga studios, Meditation rooms, Buddhist temples and everywhere and anywhere there are men in higher positions of power.
And yes, I believe the opposite exists as well, but it is what I always say,
the 60’s revolution may have benefited men in the long run much more then it ever served women.
You can quote me on that one.