Ok Mr. Broad, now it’s personal.
As someone who grew up in Washington DC and her suburbs, I have a reasonable respect for the law. I also grew up wearing combat boots, drove a car held together with duct tape and listened to hardcore feminist rock bands. So it’s safe to say that I also have a healthy disregard for the “establishment” and am suspicious of charismatic authority figures.
I’ve been in some very healthy relationships, as well as ones that were fairly toxic. This Anusara scandal is not my first rodeo. To assert that it is ignorance which is generating this mass disappointment and distress among many within the yoga world is mildly offensive. To suggest that it is unsurprising that yoga is producing a significantly large population of philanderers is sensationalist bullshit. Compare that with the population of elected officials who come from all over the country to my hometown of DC, who make their living arguing over budget deficits, taxes and yes, family values.
The notion that we ignore the hidden “Tantric agenda” and therefore are open to (and this is my favorite, Mr. Broad) “libidinal surprise,” is a gross misrepresentation of the many people who chose to teach, practice and study yoga because of the immense benefits that have nothing to do with how awesome my ass will look in yoga pants or how my husband won’t ever need Viagra.
I don’t practice yoga in the hopes that it will make me better in the sack. I practice yoga because it makes me feel good about myself. God forbid we women should feel good about ourselves, ever.
This practice has taught me to trust my body in utterly transformational ways. The yoga practice has taught me discipline, self-respect, compassion and a healthy appreciation for creating boundaries. Yoga has taught me to lessen the bitchy, judgmental voice that has lingered in my consciousness ever since middle school. Yoga has undeniably opened my hips, but more importantly the practice of yoga offered to me with enormous integrity by my own beloved teachers, has taught me how to stand up for myself and to be a leader. If the “consequence” of this is that yoga also makes my physical relationship with my husband more electric, I’m not complaining.
As my brilliant friend, Livia Shapiro writes, “I would like to thank my yoga practice for making me feel sexy and wanting to make love to my man. …perhaps I should write an article about how yoga has benefited my sex life in a monogamous relationship filled with trust and love…and in a society where sex is often both taboo and overused and women are held to double standards regarding sexuality, yoga is perhaps one of the best things we can do-when used appropriately.”
I also don’t think that it’s concealing the truth to keep my students in the dark about an obscure thread of ancient Tantric yoga that has no current bearing on the asana practice today.
They’re smart people. They can do a google search just as easily as you can, Mr. Broad. The truth is that John Friend’s indiscretions have nothing to do with the unsubstantiated claim of yours that yoga began as a sex cult. His indiscretions, as well as those of the other power abusers you referenced, have everything to do with THEIR POOR CHOICES today. If we continue to view anything, yoga or otherwise, from the perspective of it’s origins and don’t offer the opportunity for evolution, we will remain steadfastly in the futility of the past and we will continue to hold the future hostage.
Just because the origin of something might be a little smudged doesn’t mean that it’s current incarnation is poisonous. Or that all those people who choose to teach, practice or study yoga are snakes.
Here’s my plan, Mr. Broad. I will continue to teach yoga and offer to my students the tools to hold themselves accountable to their best selves, to stand up for what they believe in, to make choices with dignity, to create healthy boundaries, to love themselves without hesitation. If this yoga practice results in my students feeling better about themselves than when they walked in– more confident, more beautiful, more empowered, more brilliant or more accountable for their own lives, I will feel as though I’ve done my job.
If this includes a more active and exciting sex life for some of my students, good for them. I couldn’t be happier for the fireworks that yoga brings into their bedrooms or kitchens or the backseats of their cars, for that matter. I’m considerably more intrigued to witness how this practice that encourages transformation and awakening consciousness, can also increase our integrity and accountability. I’m very interested in whether or not we can learn to make clear, confident, conscious choices on our yoga mats that translate to similar choices in life off the mat.
Since this doesn’t appear to be your strong suit, Mr. Broad, might I suggest finding a good teacher?