A suit recently filed with the Manhattan Supreme Court claims that Wanderlust Festival knowingly stole NYC-based yoga teacher Alanna Kaivalya’s training methods for their own purposes after stringing her along for months. In the court documents, Kaivalya alleges that Wanderlust founders Jeff Krasno and Sean Hoess pretended they were planning to hire her to run a new yoga teacher training program, promising to do so when they had funding from investors, but then dropped her and proceeded to use her material anyway, according to the court papers obtained by NY Daily News.
According to the report, Kaivalya’s lawyer John Golaszewski says in the court papers that Wanderlust execs Krasno and Sean Hoess “courted Kaivalya professionally for months in 2012.”
Via the NY Daily News:
At her insistence, they signed a non-disclosure agreement, where they promised to withhold any confidential information that she shared about her teaching techniques, program development tactics and overall know how, according to the suit.
Kaivalya was worried that after giving them her training manual and insight, they would refuse to hire her and create their own program. However, to encourage them to hire her, court papers say, Kaivalya worked for months with a Wanderlust consultant to create a digitized manual.
Krasno and Hoess repeatedly assured her that they intended to hire her as soon as they had funding from investors, according to court papers.
However, after four months of promises, they pulled the plug on those discussions in April 2013.
“Krasno informed (her) that one of Wanderlust’s unnamed partners had refused to sign off on the Kaivalya Model Program,” the papers say.
Since then, the Wanderlust camp has gone forward with the yoga teacher training program offering it at their festivals as well as satellite studios (besides the behemoth summer festivals that continue to expand, Wanderlust also has their own yoga studio in Austin). Kaivalya alleges that Wanderlust “has in fact started a Teacher Training Program which is entirely based on and in most respects identical to the Kaivalya Model Program” and the materials she disclosed to them during their relationship.
Alanna Kaivalya has her own training method called The Kaivalya Yoga Method. She is an author and outspoken writer who received a lot of attention lately for being a former Lululemon ambassador who told Chip Wilson he can “kiss my fat yoga ass.”
This is how Alanna Kaivalya describes her method via her website:
Alanna on The Kaivalya Yoga Method:
“The Kaivalya Yoga Method is the style of yoga I founded a few years ago that was simply an amalgamation of my decade-plus experience in yoga and spiritual traditions. At some point, I needed to codify what I was doing so people could identify with it.
There are a few elements that make it unique: the focus on intelligent sequencing rooted in the Krishnamacharya traditions, hands-on adjustments as a way to deepen human connection, and the integration of mythology and philosophy to guide people to a deeper understanding of the self.
I’m using these tools to encourage the student’s independence, self-empowerment and self confidence. I am focused on giving students the tools that they need to reveal their true nature, independent of an external teacher, but internally empowered to drive them on their personal journey to meaningful transformation.
That’s what’s really different.
I’m not in it to become some teacher that students rely on or come to need. I’m in it to give the information needed so students don’t need me anymore.”
Kaivalya is currently on retreat so her lawyer commented for her: “Ms. Kaivalya’s priority is to those yoga practitioners and instructors to whom she has dedicated her practice. We are optimistic this matter will be resolved in a manner which both respects, and protects, those techniques, methods and teachings to which she has dedicated her career.”
We reached out to Wanderlust via email and received the official comment via their publicist:
Wanderlust’s 200-hour Yoga Alliance®-certified teacher training is a wholly original, best in class program. It was created by Schuyler Grant and Nikki Vilella of Kula Yoga, with contributions from a number of leading yoga teachers and scholars. We are extremely proud of our work, and we will defend our reputation and rights vigorously against Ms. Kaivalya’s false claims.
We’ll have more on this story as it develops.
Update: This was also covered in the NY Post but with no new details besides that, according to the suit, Alanna is calling for Wanderlust to cancel the 25 programs it has left in 2014 and pay unspecified damages for fraud and for stealing her program.
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