OPEN LETTER TO THE YOGA ALLIANCE
I have been deeply disturbed with the most recent allegations of abuse against prominent NYC Yoga studio, Jivamukti. They are joining the ranks of many yoga institutions that have a dark history of abuse allegations, Bikram, Satyananda of Bihar School, Yogi Bahjan of Kundalini, Muktananda of Siddha Yoga, Swami Rama of Himalayan Yoga, John Friend of Anusara to name but a few... and the list gets longer every year as more people are gaining the courage to speak out. This abuse is not unique to yoga institutions & is widespread in many spiritual communities. Yoga culture is particularly vulnerable with somewhat permeable boundaries (often yoga teachers engaging in acceptable dual relationships with students) and the Guru worship culture creating an environment where abuse can thrive.
I am committed to social justice in all forms, and I believe the time has come for yogis to engage in a dialogue about how to prevent this kind of abuse in our community. The Yoga Alliance is in a unique position to make this dialogue mandatory by including it in the educational standards for Yoga Teacher Training. Silence only fosters an environment where abusers can continue to abuse and victims are afraid to come forward. Please consider adding mandatory abuse & sexual harassment prevention education as well as cult awareness into the "Yoga Philosophy, Lifestyle and Ethics for Yoga Teachers" section of your standards for the 200hr requirements. Also, consider issuing a clear statement on your policies for handling complaints against registered teachers and schools to promote accountability. I look forward to hearing how you plan to put this into action.
In gratitude with a heavy heart,
Director, Svasti Yoga