Taking a Seat for Justice: A Pledge for Ashtanga Allies

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Taking a Seat for Justice:  A Pledge for Ashtanga Allies

The narrative around Pattabhi Jois's sexual violence has been controlled by the enablers, bystanders, and people who profited by ignoring and denying his actions. As long as they have control of the narrative, there will be no justice. — Karen Rain 

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For those who know that apologies are only a start, here is a proposal for how to make amends for the abuses of Pattabhi Jois and the inaction of his community. 

An apology supported by reparative action will promote justice and lasting change. 

Justice in action will foster an atmosphere in which more survivors of Jois, Ashtanga Yoga, and other yoga communities feel welcomed, honoured, and respected when they come forward to share their testimony and knowledge.

To ensure future safety for everyone, the voices and knowledge of survivors must be heard and absorbed. 

We recognize the importance of publicly acknowledging Jois’s decades of assaults. However, the lack of a basic understanding of sexual violence, along with victim-blaming and buck-passing, have compromised many public statements, and caused further harm.

Now is not a moment to use as a business opportunity or for the rebranding of Ashtanga Yoga. 

Now is the time to listen to and learn from the survivors.

Practitioners of Ashtanga Yoga believe that their method demands they uphold values like non-violence, truth-telling, and surrender. 

They also know that the postures they practice are meant to be “seats” (asanas) for silent contemplation.

It’s time for Ashtanga teachers to raise the voices of survivors, and take a silent seat in honour of non-violence, truth-telling, and surrender.

The undersigned sponsors call for all Jois-affiliated Ashtanga teachers and leaders to voluntarily commit to the following Pledge for one year, beginning on October 1st, 2019. 

I PLEDGE TO:

  1. PROMOTE, to my fullest capacity, the intellectual content of the Jois victims/survivors, whistleblowers, and other suppressed voices. I will invite them to come forward by giving them dedicated space with editorial control on social media, websites, podcasts, and blog platforms. When possible, I will pay contributors for educational content. I will make this material available on handouts in classes and trainings. For editorial guidance in these matters, please email inquiries to info@theluminescent.org. 
  2. PROMOTE, to my fullest capacity, trainings and workshops around safety, consent, hands on adjustments, and trauma awareness, delivered by qualified presenters from outside of Jois-affiliated networks . When possible, I will attend these workshops.
  3. ABSTAIN from writing or speaking about Pattabhi Jois and sexual violence in any way that takes an educational or leadership role. 
  4. ABSTAIN from commencing any business venture that profits from the issue of abuse in yoga. I will not lead workshops around safety, consent, hands-on adjustments, or trauma-awareness.
  5. ABSTAIN from critiquing or analyzing the voices of survivors.


NOTE: Everyone is welcome to sign this pledge to show support. If you are an Ashtanga yoga teacher committing to comply with the pledge, please identify where you teach in the comments so that the survivors, your colleagues and your students will know that you are taking a seat for justice.

Concept Generated by Karen Rain

Sponsored by:

Ann West, Anneke Lucas, Cassie Jackson, Daniel Shaw, Diane Bruni, Elizabeth Emberly, Francesca Cervero, Gregor Maehle, Harriet McAtee, Holly Faurot, Jacqueline Hargreaves, Dr. Jason Birch, Jordan Bakani, Josna Pankhania, Jubilee Cooke, Kathryn Bruni-Young, Laurel Beversdorf, Matthew Remski, Melissa Clark, Michaelle Edwards, Micki Evslin, Monica Gauci, Nicola Tiburzi, Rachel Meyer, Sarah Holmes de Castro, Sarah Garden, Sasha Rose, Tamar Samir, Terry Johnson, Dr. Theodora Wildcroft, Tiffany Kieran, Trina Altman, Yonnie Fung