With the recent series of unfortunate and shocking public sex scandals involving prominent gurus in the yoga world (see: Friend, Desikachar, Bikram), many in the community have been left feeling disheartened and maybe a bit helpless, wondering what can we do? Declare “enough is enough” and start a campaign promoting the “I Am My Own Guru” message on purple bracelets is one answer, and it’s the answer yoga teacher and vegan chef Lucas Rockwood is offering to the yoga community.
Rockwood launched his “I Am My Own Guru” website and crowdfunding campaign in response to the recent scandals, with a mission to help stop sexually abusive yoga teachers and bring the power back to the students. Via the indiegogo campaign page:
Sadly, sex scandals are nothing new in the yoga world.
Students often make excuses for womanizers and even abusive leaders within their communities to the extent that many go on teaching years despite legal action and clear misconduct.
But at some point, enough is enough.
In response to recent sex scandal allegations about yoga gurus John Friend, Kausthub Desikachar, and Bikram Choudhury (some of the most publicized teachers of modern times), a purple-bracelet wearing clan of yoga students have stepped up to make yoga safe for everyone again.
Armed with the purple bracelets, and the “I Am My Own Guru” message, Rockwood hopes yogis will make a big statement and usher in change.
“I Am My Own Guru” is a statement, a movement, and a complete paradigm shift away from the broken (and dangerous) model of guru/disciple group think, toward a healthier system where individuals are respected, honored, and above all, made to feel safe in what should be the safest of safe places – their yoga studio.
When you wear the bracelet, it says loud and clear, “enough is enough.”
You can get the bracelets by donating to the cause: the more money you donate, the more bracelets you will receive. Top perks include a 2-day yoga workshop and a 3-day session with private live-in wellness coach (Rockwood).
But the best part about all of this is that all donations, 100% of them, will go to The Art of Yoga Project, a non-profit organization specializing in the rehabilitation and treatment of at-risk teen girls. The Art of Yoga Project brings the practice of yoga to young women in the California juvenile justice system, many of which have been victims of abuse themselves. According to the Center for Gender and Justice,
Among female delinquents, an estimated 70-90% have a history of sexual abuse.
This campaign, and plastic accessories, may not eradicate sexual abuse, but we give Lucas Rockwood and his purple bracelet-wearing friends major props for giving it the old yoga try, most of all for raising awareness and funds for a good cause. And perhaps for helping to shift the power back to the real “gurus,” the ones inside all of us. Every little bit counts.
As Rockwood states in the video:
“There are no ethics committees or watchdog groups for yoga students, and yet teachers with huge power and influence are clearly taking advantage, and in some cases, even assaulting their students who came to class to get fit or relieve stress.
Yoga is not a religion, it’s a practice. We don’t need gurus, we need good teachers who we can trust to be safe and responsible. ‘I Am My Own Guru’ is about giving the power back to the students, and taking action against abusers.”
Visit the indiegogo campaign page here and the I Am My Own Guru website here for more info.
Not to forget Rodney Yee’s much ballyhooed incursion in the arena of extramarital affairs and the “commingling” with female students circa 2002.
It’s a worthy effort, but somewhat off the mark. Neither Friend nor Bikram openly pushed themselves as ‘gurus,’ and people were drawn by their claims to bring health and fitness, be financially successful as teachers etc.
If the movement was ‘I will not give another dollar to — or earn another dollar for — people whose behavior has been reprehensible,’ then you would be closer to the mark. Unfortunately there are plenty of people who just plain don’t care, and easily look the other way in order to pursue their own tastes and preferences.
These teachers will easily take up the ‘You are your own Guru’ line, and still continue to manipulate and use people.
Love it! Also agree with Worth Effort that it’s all to easy to project the sentiment of this message, but happy to support this cause
It is sad that it has come to this, however i feel it is a little misguided. in my experience it is a guru that helps you to see something you didn’t see before and assists the process of dropping away the ego to allow the Self to shine in all its authenticity. Chose your guru wisely! (Haha, not really a choice, it is something that happens) and recognise that a real living guru will possibly have human flaws and failings that you don’t have to embrace. Xx
Exactly– spot on!!! I’m lucky that my wife is my “guru.” She invited me to yoga when we started dating. I love it. But, I know my situation is unique. I don’t know how most “come to yoga,” and don’t comprehend fully how these gurus manipulate students. But, I guess it’s like a high school teacher and his/her students. I am hopeful that all of the proceeds of this purple bracelet actually go to a charity & that this instructor isn’t just taking advantage of a situation. Om shanti. Namaste.
No better music to my ears. “I AM MY OWN GURU”
Bring it on!!!
You ultimately meet yourself on the mat.
You don’t even need a studio, or a gym; or the pied piper of a charismatic teacher to do that …
I AM MY OWN GURU ? You were always your own Guru.
Upanisshads say: Follow that advice of mine which is good and helpful for your progress and neglect even my own advice which is not.”
Thanks for your interest and for sharing your thoughts…. please feel free to get in touch personally if you like.
All the best,
As a fan of Guru Rattana, I like to follow all of the new things she makes or produces. One of my favorite by far has been her online section at Yoga Tech. For a monthly price, I have access to a bunch of her lessons online so that I can watch it at my convenience. I don’t even have to leave my home to practice Kundalini Yoga, it’s great!
The lineage of yoga teachers with allegations of sexual misbehavior: John Friend, Swami Muktananda, Pattabhi Jois, Kausthub Desikachar, Swami Satchidananda, Swami Rama, Amrit Desai, Rodney Yee… The list goes on…
You forgot Bikram. And this really isn’t a lineage. It’s a record.
Dear Silly Rabbits:
Does the process of Reactive Ego Assertion have any meaning to you? If You stay “in charge” and You will stay the same. How are You supposed to be in charge when You are supposed to disappear?
This is just a reaction to the embarrassment of choosing a guru who is sexual. Learn from it and choose more wisely, children. (And that doesn’t necessarily mean leaving the guru!)
Great example of someone who is handling this well: Pema Chodron. (I certainly am not saying anything about her experience since I don’t know a single thing about it, but you have heard of her guru. )