President Bush DECLINES slapping bum of Olympic Champ, Misty May Treanor
I first posted this several years ago still reeling from an unfortunate #metoo incident at a Minneapolis yoga studio. After keeping it up on my blog for several months, I decided to take it down. Why? Primarily out of respect for two local male Iyengar teachers who I greatly admire–both have decades of experience and both have been nothing but respectful and supportive to me in my practice. One does teacher trainings and I continue to recommend him wholeheartedly. At the time, however, I honestly didn’t want to hurt their feelings or harm their “brand.” When criticizing a “guru” of a certain tradition, it’s almost unavoidable that the followers and teachers of that style feel somehow insulted or attacked. I am grateful to the people who pointed that out to me.
In retrospect, I wish I had made clear at the beginning of that post my intention was not to launch any kind of general attack against Iyengar practitioners or instructors. I don’t think the situation I experienced is unique to Iyengar Yoga or even Indian Yoga. I do think it is common, however, in unchecked male hierarchies across multiple disciplines (religion, business, sports etc.) which are often sustained by some level of complicity (conscious or unconscious) of the women around them.
My own style of Kripalu Yoga certainly had its “demons” (one in particular, named Amrit Desai) to exorcise in this regard and did so very publicly, painfully and ultimately successfully in the 1990’s. Now, in the post #metoo era, I look back and realize that my self-censoring just plays right into the hands of these yoga bad-boy harrassers, predators and even rapists. With the release of the Netflix documentary, Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator, I felt this a timely republish but wanted to do so with the benefit of hindsight and perspective. My comments in red are my present self reflecting on my past self, in hopes of building a better, more aware future self–get it? So, here goes…
I’ve been planning a trip to India for the last year. As yoga has become a full-time vocation for me, I figured it’s time to take the plunge and go to The Source. I have had opportunities to travel to India before, mostly when I worked in Tokyo where I was the Branch Manager for a US software company. Why didn’t I do it? Maybe I felt I needed a break from societies where inequality between men and women is so palpable–not the stuff from which dream vacations are made. Should have gone with your gut here. You know how soul-crushing it can be as a competent woman in these kind of environments. Guilty of “orientalism,” or assuming that somehow Asian males have answers and access to “wisdom” that must elude me as a Western woman. Thank you Kristine at Subtle Yoga for that keen analysis!