Yoga, an age-old practice, boosts the physical and mental health and also helps in improving the overall well-being of an individual. Known for its several pros, Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested June 21 to be declared as International Yoga Day. The practice, however, have also inadvertently given rise to a searing culture of sexual abuse. Several yoga practitioners or gurus, over the years, have been accused of sexually assaulting their students. These narratives become even more significant in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Here are some instances.
One of the most famous instance of such a case is Bikram Choudhury, the Indian-American “hot” yoga guru who had sexually harassed several women. He had sexually abused and later subsequently fired Minakshi “Miki” Jafa-Bodden, his onetime lawyer, albeit unfairly. Sarah Baughn, a longtime student had also accused Choudhury of sexual harassment.
John Friend, Founder of Anusara Yoga
An American yoga teacher and creator of Anusara Yoga, John Friend was accused of having several affairs and indulging in sexual relations, freezing employee-benefit plans and coercing employees to accept shipments of marijuana. It was reported by The Washington Post that Friend was also having sex with his students.
Kausthub Desikachar, grandson of ‘father of modern yoga’ Krishnamacharya
Kausthub Desikachar was accused of sexual, mental and emotional abuse by several people. This led to his stepping down from both the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram and the Krishnamachraya Healing and Yoga Foundation worldwide in 2012 and an official public statement from KHYF stated the same. A few months later, however, he returned to teaching and launched a new website.
American yoga instructor who became very famous in the early 1990s was sued in 2002 for breaching contract. He was accused of having several sexual affairs with students. He was divorced after the lawsuit.
Considered as the superstar of yoga, he too had sexually abused several of his students. According to a report in The New York Times, he was exposed to protestors with placards in 1991 outside a hotel in Virginia. A former devotee had apparently shouted “How can you call yourself a spiritual instructor when you have molested me and other women?”
There are several others guilty of a similar harrowing deed and most of them were let go without a befitting punishment.