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.”