#MeToo and Ashtanga Yoga

by Nina

There was a request on Facebook today to share photos, which have just been made public, of Pattabhi Jois, founder of the Ashtanga school of yoga, sexual assaulting his student Karen Rain in class. This request was made in the hopes of countering the photos typically seen of him, like the one above, as a beloved guru. So, I decided to go ahead and share them on the blog today (as well as on Facebook). They are actually very shocking! 

Not only is this obviously sexual molestation, but it was done in front of witnesses—for years—and was somehow considered a “normal” part of the Ashtanga practice. You can read the full story of Karen Rain’s experiences in ‘Yoga Guru Pattabhi Jois Sexually Assaulted Me for Years’. I realize that Pattabhi Jois is dead so no students are in further danger, but I feel that if people are still going to Ashtanga classes and participating in the Ashtanga community, they should at least be aware of this behavior on the part of the school’s founder and “guru.” After that, the decision is up to them. So, here are the photos. They are especially disturbing to me because Karen is in such a vulnerable position in both of them.

There have been a few other women coming forward who had similar experiences, but so far I haven’t seen photos of them (not that I need photos to believe them!). Anyway, this whole situation raises a lot of issues, especially the one of how a school of yoga can evolve into a cult, where students are abused by a so-called spiritual leader. Right now I don’t have any answers to offer up, but as always the first step is admitting there is a problem and shining the light of day upon it.


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