When I first began to practice Yoga in 1993, Yoga belonged to a select group of; intellectuals, aging hippies and crunchie types, few celebrities, dancers, recovering addicts and people in the field of mental health. It was a fairly small group of well intentioned seekers. Some might even say a bit rag tag.
At that time most – if not all – studios were directly linked to the three main lineages descending from Krishnamacharya – Iyengar, Ashtanga, Viniyoga. Kundalini Yoga comes from a separate albeit made up lineage. In the past 7 years leaders from each of these lineages have been accused of egregious acts of physical, sexual and financial abuse.
As a result, collectively we have been reevaluating the teachings and practices that have long been held as commonplace. What we were taught in regards to; relinquishing agency to the guru, unpaid labor as seva, (selfless service), shaktipat – the touch of the guru as a way of immediate transmission of wisdom and insight as an excuse for unwelcome contact. These institutional practices are now seen in a very different light:
exploitation of labor
unexamined/unhealed savior complex
unhealed father / mother wound
The work being done here is profound, difficult and deeply meaningful. Difficult, because it challenges many of our unconscious beliefs and biases and uproots them at the cause (samskara).
This ironically is the ultimate purpose of Yoga and meditation, yet many resist this change as an affront to tradition. I ask those of you wishing to uphold the past and make the attempt to separate, ‘the teacher from the teachings’, to examine whether it is possible to make that separation and what is the value of doing so.
For example, pushing oneself past ones comfort zone. Could this be grooming for unacceptable behavior?. Ignoring ones physical needs as a method to ‘burn off the past’ and become more disciplined. Could this be another way of encouraging a practice of self betrayal and gaslighting? Selfless service and unpaid labor to the guru or organization. Is this a way of lead figure/s to gather resources that ultimately benefit only themselves?
My views have shifted as these allegations and convictions have come to light. Therefore, my practice has as well. This is a good thing, a very good thing. The older I get the more humble I become from realizing how little I know and how much more there is to learn. I celebrate that as a journey I expect to last until my last day here.