The above link tells the story of 9 women who spent time with Pattabhi Jois, the father of Ashtanga Yoga.
‘Whether they spent days, months, or years with Jois, all of the women describe an environment in which the guru was permitted to freely assault his female students.’
Sorry if you thought i was going to share how holy and spiritual Ashtanga yoga is.
In their own words, ‘It’s okay’ was the common response they got when they shared their unfortunate incidents with the yoga community.
Fact is Pattabhi Jois was a fucking asshole that displayed a holier-than-thou appearance of saviour on the outside, while violating women who came to seek him to learn something, like most ‘Godmen’ or cult gurus.
Then there’s the other famous asshole – Bikram Yoga founder Bikram Choudhury, who actually tried to copyright yoga. Of course his copyright claim got shut down, deservedly, by a federal court.
‘Born in Kolkata in 1946, he claimed to have been invited to America by Richard Nixon, and to have taught yoga to the Beatles and Nasa astronauts. He once told a class that he invented the disco ball.’ He also claimed to have launched Michael Jackson’s career.
I don’t want to smack this guy against a wall, i want to smack people who believe impostors like him against a wall.
When confronted by a journalist on camera about the rape allegations, he went on to say ‘Why do I have to harass women? People spend $1m for one drop of my sperm.’
Don’t even get me started on Baba Ramdev.
The scene isn’t very different today. Now there’s a million yogis and hence a billion scary stories. All you have to do is spend a few weeks talking to the naive young girls who’ve landed in Rishikesh ‘The Yoga Capital of The World’ from all around the world for their teacher’s certificates, to heal their broken hearts, to escape an abusive husband, etc.
Sometimes they leave with no certificate, but a full blown case of herpes.
The last time I was there for barely 8 days, a counsellor i met had spoken to 12 women that contracted STDs. Two holy yogis were counting bars in prison, when the number should ideally be a few dozens. Most women who’ve gone through a terrible episode are either ashamed to talk about it, or threatened into silence, so a lot of the scumbags roam free feeling invincible. Toxic masculinity and bro-culture thrives like virus.
Is it that men can’t resist abusing a small amount of power they may have over meek subjects?
Forgive me for the generalization, but good yogis do exist. And all one has to do is some research about their yoga school of choice, or ask people. I’m all ears if you want to know where to learn yoga and get your certification. But it’s most certainly not Rishikesh, unless you get into 5 or 6 of the good ones where there aren’t any vampire flesh lusting garbage men. Some of them are on hoardings bigger than the hoardings for the latest iPhone.
Most yoga schools there, and around India, don’t even give you a recognized certificate cos they go to the local printer and get some sheet of paper laminated and handed to you for your $3000. That’s not a fair deal, if you ask me. And if you just google rishikesh yoga, you’ll get over 350 results for ‘yoga retreats’. If that doesn’t smell fishy to you, I’m concerned about your mental state.
Of course, they might teach you how to do the headstand and the downward dog, but really, that alone doesn’t contribute to yoga. There’s much more than some physical twisting and bending and showing off. There’s much more to yoga than your yoga mat and your yoga pants. I could write a book about this subject but for now i’ll leave it at that and request you to do your research. There’s a handful of good schools around India that make your time, energy, and hard-earned money worth it. There are teachers who’ve made it their life purpose to TRY to awaken you beyond your fractal geometry neon designer yoga pants.
And while you’re at it, also do some research about where your money goes. There are ample yoga schools sending your money to religious fanatic outfits, in return for promotion and ‘legal certification’ and good terms. Like how the Mafia collected money ‘for protection’.
Yoga is a beautiful and unbelievably humbling art form (unless one is like Bikram who has a Hollywood mansion and 50 cars). Yoga has, and will continue to help a lot of people on their paths, including me and many I know. But the world we’re living in today, like I said, is infested by a lot of vampires. So be careful of the messenger. I wish you all the best and nothing but love and light on your yogic endeavours.
I’m off to teach my next class, ciao.
*** people perverting the journey is not just an observation in yoga, it also exists in any form of art or spirituality or science – it’s a disease called ‘man’, leaving his stink on anything serene ***