Sex And the Sitar
Sex and Yoga.
Sounds like the perfect match, doesn’t it?
The selling of sex and yoga as sacred soul mates is nothing new – plenty of charismatic personalities have been doing it for decades – but in truth, they are more often a poisonous pair, than the complimentary coupling the Karma Sutra would have you believe. Allow me to explain.
Ten years ago, I enthusiastically started penning my first book. I was very excited about the signature series I had designed to open and then channel, the male and female sexual energies through their natural pathways and in a way that would allow partners to unify in energetic harmony as well as physical sync. The idea was to fuse their sexual energy after it was initiated – as contraction in the male belly and expansion in the female mind – so both would lovingly arrive in their hearts at the same time, therefore honoring the divine union of Shiva and Shakti and creating the experience of “conscious coitus”, if you will.
(Naively), the working title was “Sexy Yoga”, yet despite the practice making energetic sense and doing what I had envisioned it to do, I remained hesitant in putting it out there.
It didn’t help that everything around at that time was gratuitously focused on the “body-beautiful”. Magazines, music videos, even products that had nothing to do with yoga such as car dealerships and headache tablets, were using mindfulness and meditation to sell their wears. Models – in various stages of undress – basically just looked like they were making out on the mat, oblivious to whatever the label was, hot on the heels of supermodels and superstars like Christy Turlington, Jane Fonda and Gwyneth Paltrow, who had already earned a new name for themselves preaching the benefits of daily practice, in between red-carpet roll outs of course. The innuendo was, your well-being would be greatly enhanced if you wore a matching “Nuala” outfit or subscribed to L’Oreal or Goop Inc, as you stretched your way to nirvana.
“Because you’re worth it”.
If you weren’t posting regular selfies of yourself half naked in lycra, doing the splits up a palm tree in some exotic location or dripping in mala beads and post-postural bliss – completed by a sexy-looking smoothie (or human) of some description – you weren’t doing yoga, darhlingk.
If you hadn’t found your mojo, you hadn’t found your mate and vice versa.
Now, nearly a decade later as I prepare to finally launch my maiden manuscript – under a new and more appropriate rubic – I am grateful that time took the reins from me back then, giving me the space to not only morph and grow into my Self, but also to find my feet as a mother, a medicine woman and a matured yogi.
The yoga world may still feel a strong hypnotic pull towards tight asanas and enlightened-shiny skin, but behind the scenes, it is anything but glamorous. Especially now, as we witness the global spiritual community lunging Hanuman-like at each other’s throats on the daily, warrior swords in hand and behaving in ways that, in all honesty, would send even the Buddha into an illuminated spin.
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We’ve all heard the phrase “history repeats itself”. Most people are acutely aware of certain historical pinnacle events, as well as the situations leading up to said pinnacle events, ones that eventually ended up serving the elite minority and obliterating the vast majority and leaving legacies that few will ever recover from. So, in the interest of “higher” (divine) education and doing my bit to support collective evolution, I will attempt to draw a parallel between sexual abuse and spiritual abuse in this article, in the hope it will help ease some division and lift some darkness.
There have seen several “self-help gurus” exposed as predators (in some form) in recent years and this has a lot to do with the #metoo movement (https://metoomvmt.org) which peeled back multiple veils and opened several ashram cans of worms simultaneously. Originally started by black activist Tarana J. Burke back in 2006 (https://www.taranaburke.com/bio), #metoo was “revamped” on social media in 2017 by actress Alyssa Milano. Since then, the domino effect has rocked and detoxed several industries – including the Yoga realm – and thankfully has brought many offenders to account.
Now, to the sane and rational mind, yoga-trained or not, someone charged with the position of teacher or mentor and in a high position of responsibility and power, would surely possess a certain level of moral fibre and trustworthiness? Considering the myriad files and witness testimonials that are out there and growing by the hour, apparently not, and so it begs the question: “How did we let this guru/groupie thing, get so out of hand?”
The list of OM offenders, sadly, spans the alphabet and covers pretty much every lineage, including the founding father lines. Even from the very beginning when it arrived on western shores and began diluting as a result of “too many cooks…”, yoga has been tainted.
Pierre Bernard, the man credited with introducing yoga to the US in 1905, was accused of kidnapping and molesting young girls just five short years later. Although never charged, he did spend a few months in jail, hopefully contemplating more than his navel chakra.
Yogi Bhajan, the “Kundalini cult leader”, is even in death, receiving renewed exposure now as several survivors have come forwards with their allegations. His protégé, the (recently late) Guru Jagat aka Katie Griggs, is also attracting similar controversial attention.
Bikram Choundry was never known for his fashion sense – specifically tiger print speedos, obnoxious gold watches and too much body oil – but he can be credited for initiating the update of California’s YTA code of conduct guidelines, specifically around sexual harassment and assault, because of his unique behavior. This is a good outcome, yet with six civil lawsuits under his yoga strap and a standing warrant for his arrest, he (and his bad taste) have now fled the States to who knows where.
Pattabhi Jois, (late) founder of Ashtanga Yoga, apparently had a penchant for groping, rubbing and “dry humping” women under the guise of performing “postural adjustments” during class. No doubt his intrusive actions have influenced how teachers around the world communicate with and touch their students and served to increase everyone’s awareness about appropriate personal space during practice. Again, an example of light emerging from darkness.
Kaustaub Desikachar, son of one of the Desikachar pioneers, apparently added mental and emotional abuse to his sexual repertoire and Jivamukti’s Dechan Thurman – yes, the brother of Uma – is another unconscious culprit otherwise known as “the yoga gigolo” by his accusers.
John Friend, of Anusara Yoga fame, hosted a soft porn coven called “Blazing Solar Flames”, not to pay homage to Sun Salutations, but because he wanted to be everybody’s “special” friend, I guess. His fetishes were reminiscent of Bernard’s own wild (and reportedly “sinister”) ceremonial sex parties, confirming growing suspicions that the New Age Movement has in fact infiltrated Yoga with its occultist vibes; or possibly given birth to it.
Swami Muktananda, was an advocate of celibacy and non-violence during the day and an (alleged) child rapist and deliverer of beatings, by night. Just the sort of sage you’d want your children chanting along with. NOT.
Even here, in sleepy old Mount Eliza, Australia, our own Russell Kruckman abused spiritual seekers of both sexes, innocent people who have unfortunately experienced an awakening ride they will never forget.
The one place you would imagine to be a safe and secure haven, somewhere you could relax and let your guard down and trust you wouldn’t be “held” in any other way other than with the utmost care and respect, is on your yoga or meditation mat, surely?
Alas, it ain’t necessarily so.
Of course, there are many others connected to the yoga arena who are expressing less than appropriate expressions of “love” towards others and in such a subtle way that they are getting away with it. People who run spiritual events and yoga festivals, yoga journalists and photographers, those working in fashion, food/catering and the travel aspects of the industry, not to mention all the random teachers working unchecked in communities around the world, are violating a whole lot more than the Eight Limbs of Yoga.
From my observations, the situation around this virus and vaccine tells a similar story of violence and soul vacancy.
From the perspective of personal integrity, asserting and balancing professional boundaries with mutual respect whilst cultivating the principles of inclusivity and unity, and to all that qualifies as yogic duty of care, we are watching the cataclysmic unpacking of eons of practices and philosophies we believed to be pure and aligned, almost “non-corruptable”.
Never in our generation, has a medical-slash-scientific topic incited so much division and discord within the greater spiritual community.
The vaccination debate is literally ripping the global yoga community apart, shattering people’s faith, destroying long-standing alliances and rendering those brave enough to step off the beaten path and express some alternate views or possibilities, battered and bruised from extensive verbal and (what I call) “energetic peer-bashing”.
Some yogis are even distorting the ancient texts to suit their personal, medical and political perspectives.
It’s now considered “an act of Ahimsa” for example, to take the shot. By doing so, you prove to others that you are “doing the right thing”, supposedly in the name of protecting humanity and so you can be of proper service to Yoga, because as yogis we’ve all been taught that science is superior to the soul, right?
Well, no, that’s not the message I got during any of my trainings. Not once. I understood Ayurveda to be the sister science to Yoga – like TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) which I have also studied – a sacred system rooted in Nature’s principles to be trusted and revered, and certainly consulted before Allopathic medicine, not as an after-thought or worse, dismissed entirely.
My go-to as a teacher, therapist and perpetual student of yoga has always been natural, not synthetic, which is why I find it fascinating that so many yogis are promoting what in essence, is an experimental injection with dubious and dangerous side effects. Despite many being committed vegans and earth lovers, every day more of them line up to ingest a plethora of chemicals that have absolutely nothing to do with supporting, let alone increasing, individual or herd immunity. And then they take that selfie, swapping a blue ocean background for a blue surgical mask and a peace-sign, like it’s a badge of honor.
If this isn’t a form of abuse, I don’t know what is.
This time however, it’s the individual that is doing themselves over, not the guru. These “leaders” who deliberately encourage, even insist, that students and strangers alike get jabbed alongside them and “for the benefit of all”, could perhaps be a mutated version of the same Bhoga* beast?
(*Bhoga is Sanskrit for “enjoyment”, the root term “bhuji” meaning “consume” and to “indulge in earthly and sensory pleasures”.)
The abuse may not be sexual in this instance, but it is still (without a doubt in my mind anyway), conscious coercion, abuse of the spiritual, and as such, it carries with it, a hefty karmic price.
All this begs another heavy question as to whether there is a legitimate and unavoidable symbiosis that occurs between sex and yoga, say, for example, when a practitioner reaches a high degree of energetic awareness and self-mastery, one akin to guru status?
Nah, still sounds a bit cult-ish to me, blurring the lines for personal advantage and using spirituality as a very bad excuse to do what you want, to whomever you want, “in the name of unity consciousness”.