Why do I keep posting about this subject? As far as I know only about half a dozen Ashtanga teachers have come out with apologies about their past actions and concrete support for the assaulted women. To me it looks as if 99% of Ashtanga teachers and this includes most of the big hitters are simply just hoping for this storm to blow over. To make matters worse those who dare to speak up are constantly questioned about their “agenda”. Why are those who remain silent not questioned about their agendas?
I do not think that our current culture-wide approach to the problem works. I see Ashtanga today as being in a similar situation as Bikram Yoga in 2012 prior to the publications of Hell Bent: Obsession, Pain and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Bikram Yoga by Benjamin Lorr. The book initiated a public discussion that ultimately even if it took years swept Bikram Yoga and its founder away. Ashtanga’s own Hell Bent, Matthew Remski’s book, will be published shortly. While Ashtanga die-hards can discredit him by simply saying that he is an enemy of Ashtanga, the general public will not fall for that. It will not do that because most of its members are not married to Ashtanga. The general public will simply look at the very strong evidence showing that there is a culture of sexual, physical and spiritual abuse within Ashtanga, which is not addressed by its members.
We cannot protect Ashtanga by trying to assassinate the messengers. Because there are now too many. What we can do is listen closely to the victims and offer support and apologies for enabling abuse. Then we need to engage in a soul-search and ask ourselves how our Ashtanga-culture can be changed to avoid any form of sexual, physical and spiritual abuse in the future. We need to ask ourselves how do the power structures that continue to deny such abuse are capable of changing and if not in how far we as a culture want to continue to support them?
In this spirit I am here offering another testimony of an assaulted woman, Jubilee Cooke. I think that especially us teachers who make a successful living off Ashtanga owe it to these women to listen to them, start a dialogue and implement changes in our culture of which little has happened so far. If Ashtanga is close to your heart please read this article and support us to bring about a culture of transparency, accountability, dialogue and healing.
For Jubilee’s article please go to https://www.decolonizingyoga.com/why-didnt-somebody-warn-me-a-pattabhi-jois-metoo-story-jubilee-cooke/