Sexual Violence Happens in the Yoga Community
Yoga has been a healing journey for many and for others yoga has been abusive, painful and violent. Most lineages of yoga have sexual abuse allegations including: Patthabhi Jois of Ashtanga Yoga, John Friend of Anusara Yoga, Bikram Choudry of Bikram Yoga, Kausthub Desikachar of Viniyoga and Swami Rama of the Himalyan Institute. The #metoo movement, started in NY by Tarana Burke, has inspired many people to come forward, to speak, and to refuse to be silenced. Jessamyn Stanely posted on Facebook, “Me, too. And the fact that I don’t enjoy admitting it probably says way more than anything else. Solidarity is powerful—I feel less alone today.” Rachel Brathen offered a space nationally for people to share their stories of sexual harassment and violence in the yoga community a few months back. You can read her post here. Stories have involved harassment or violence between teacher to student, student to teacher or student to student.
Collecting #MeTooSeattleYoga Stories
Stories of sexual violence have surfaced in the Seattle yoga community through the years, and we want to offer an intentional and collective space where people can speak and be heard, especially for those silenced. With this in mind we are offering a space for people in the local community who would like to share their stories. We are offering an opportunity to share your #metooseattleyoga story if you feel called to. Feel free to answer as few or as many of the questions as you prefer. Stories may involve harassment or violence between teacher to student, student to teacher or student to student.
Go here to share your story.
Why We are Doing This
We feel a deep commitment to the Seattle yoga world, and simultaneously a deep commitment to justice, transparency, honesty and bringing to awareness what has been silenced.
We specifically want to bring this transparency to the community we live and practice in because we want everyone to be able to practice yoga in spaces that are free of sexual violence and harm. Transparency about what is happening in the community can be a step towards change, justice, accountability and hopefully, healing.
What Will Happen with This Information
This form will be open from July 15-September 27, and all the stories will be published anonymously in a Rainier Beach Yoga blog post by the end of September.
Based on the information we get from survivors we will propose next steps for the community to engage with. Possibilities that we see are: in person processing circle community wide, trainings for teachers around misuse/abuse of power, trainings for male-identified folks on toxic masculinity, consent trainings, restorative justice opportunities, trainings on the intersection of racism and sexism for the Seattle Yoga Community, nothing, or other idea(s) proposed by survivors in the community.
Go here to share your story.
With love and solidarity,
Laura Humpf, Michelle Desmond, Katie Spataro, Maggie Karshner and Emma Shandy Anway