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Jivamukti Sexual Harassment Suit Revisits Questions Of Guru-Worship And Abuse Of Power

in YD News

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How many gurus’ feet have you kissed? Asana kissers are everywhere, even in yoga, but that’s not what this is about. It is about power dynamics and student-teacher relations and cult-ish environments. And sexual harassment and boundaries, and integrity and dignity.

In February, news broke about yet another sex scandal in the yoga community. A student and teacher-trainee filed a $1.6 million civil lawsuit against the well-known NYC studio Jivamukti and one of its teachers claiming sexual harassment. In the suit, Holly Faurot says 20-year veteran Jivamukti Yoga teacher Ruth Lauer-Manenti, aka “Lady Ruth,” sexually harassed her between 2009 and 2013 while Faurot was training to become a teacher at the studio. According to the suit, Faurot had filed a complaint with the studio which went ignored. Jivamukti is run and was founded by well-known yogis David Life and Sharon Gannon, who have yet to make any comment on the lawsuit.

Today, on Slate, Michelle Goldberg dug deeper behind-the-scenes, as it were, of this particular sexual harassment lawsuit and the cult versus culture of yoga, specifically at Jivamukti, a yoga studio strongly focused on devotion and a strict set of core values (read: vegan or bust).

In general, showing respect and holding yoga teachers in high-regard is not a shocking practice. Neither is feet-touching if you’re studying with a guru in India. But in the U.S., the act of surrendering yourself in utter devotion to the point of self-endangerment is not exactly seen as healthy behavior. Being the (in some of the worst cases) almost god-like person in power preying upon vulnerabilities and demanding this unfettered devotion doesn’t ring any healthy bells either.

In the case of Faurot, she had an abusive childhood and was recovering from an eating disorder, she told Slate, so she looked to Jivamukti as a way to help heal what therapy and other treatments hadn’t. “Jivamukti gives you this antidote,” Faurot said.

“I followed their philosophy of total devotion and surrender to a guru with all my heart,” Faurot told the Daily News in February. “That’s why I didn’t question her psychological manipulation.”

According to Faurot and the lawsuit, the sexual harassment involved sleepovers at Faurot’s apartment, nude photos, and other deeply disturbing favors for favors.

Being close to Lauer-Manenti came with professional privileges, including prime teaching slots and private dinners with Gannon and Life. Occasionally, she’d give Faurot small cash gifts. (Faurot estimates they totaled less than $1,500 over the years.) Yet even as Lauer-Manenti emphasized that Faurot was her favorite, Faurot says she would subtly humiliate her. Once, for example, she told her protégé that she couldn’t remember if she had a tampon in and instructed Faurot to check. She complied.

“Was Lauer-Manenti her guru or her abuser?” is a question we hope no else ever has to deliberate in their own lives.

“You kind of felt like if you became her closer student, you would be further along the spiritual path,” Faurot said in the Slate interview. “The fact that she liked me so much, and I was her favorite, somehow I felt so special. I really had never felt that way in my entire life, to feel that kind of love from an authority figure.”

This doesn’t sound too unfamiliar from the statements made from women who claim they’ve been sexually and emotionally abused by Bikram, or Desikachar, or [insert name of any other powerful leader overstepping boundaries and abusing their power]. But some aren’t convinced there’s a problem with an abuse of power, and that it’s not the leader but rather the followers’ fault these things happen.

“This seems to me to be a very nasty way for a jilted lover to get back at somebody,” anatomy teacher Leslie Kaminoff told Slate. Kaminoff used to teach at Jivamukti in the 90s. “This woman was certainly OK with the relationship with Ruth until she found someone else,” he said. As far as Kaminoff is concerned, Faurot was a consenting adult and that should be the end of it. “We’re not talking about people with diminished capacity,” he continues. “You can talk about power imbalance as much as you want, and that’s certainly part of the conversation, but that power that these teachers have was given to them by their students.”

And this mentality, this coming from someone who has been around in the yoga community for a long time, has seen a lot of things and (we might’ve expected) would have a more thoughtful POV on the subject, is at once disappointing and infuriating and just adds to why women/victims of abuse feel discouraged from speaking out. It must’ve been something I did. Everyone else loves this person, what’s wrong with me? I let them do this to me, so it’s my fault.

Sure, we all need to take responsibility for our own actions, but victim-blaming doesn’t appear to be the answer. For Faurot who was in it, it took sessions with her therapist to realize boundaries were violated, she said.

Despite all the wrongness of Kaminoff’s statements, this lawsuit sheds light, once again, on the power that spiritual leaders, or leaders of any sort, can have on their followers, fawning fans, or underlings looking to “climb the ladder.” Sexual harassment in the workplace seems to, depressingly, happen all the time on various levels of inappropriateness. But in the yoga setting, when vulnerability is not only inherently present, but encouraged, and studio culture revolves around cliques and “sorority”-like circles adhering closely to dogmas followed by diligent, compliant apprentices eager to please, saying the people in power don’t hold a higher responsibility for how they act and conduct themselves is like telling a victim of abuse they asked for it.

While the main focus is on the teacher for alleged wrongdoing, the studio itself—its business structure and philosophy—is also being brought into question. Faurot’s lawyer Thomas Shanahan is aiming to look further into Jivamukti’s cultish culture as having an influence on his client’s decision-making. “We’re going to be looking to hire an expert on cults to talk about what’s happening at this school in the context of brainwashing, this kind of guru-worship,” he told Slate. “If their business model is designed to isolate vulnerable people, bring them into what they call their yoga tribe, have them kiss their feet, and then the behavior changes, that’s relevant.”

However this lawsuit shakes out, and however painful it is to keep hearing about these disturbing claims, we hope more people will be encouraged to speak out if they feel they have been a victim of abuse, and that more studios and teachers will be encouraged to keep their power-hungry egos in check.

Read the whole article about this lawsuit at Slate.

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69 comments… add one
  • I think Leslie brings up a valid observation of the situation. We often say that there are two sides to every story. There are at least two! I don’t find his POV blaming of the victim. I find it another version of what have possibly been the situation.

  • Charlotte Hamilton

    I disagree that someone who spends years as a student then as apprentice then as ongoing student is a clear headed adult. I think the relationship set up between teacher and student (particularly at Jivamukti where boundaries are not defined or guarded in a healthy normal fashion) is a particular type of relationship, unusual in that it has more power than a normal dynamic. In our Teacher Training manual there is an ethics section which says something along the lines of; due to the unique lasting nature of the student teacher relationship sexual relationships are not appropriate even after completion of training. If you love a persons socks off (in the spiritual sense), there is no time or place for your teacher to ask to get into your bed, that is a transgression of a simple basic boundary: don’t sleep with your students. Spiritual love is not the same as adult consensual relationship – it is separate from it – the teacher in responsible for not overstepping the lines because the student is not going to question the integrity of the teacher, their trust is pure and holy and massive.

  • Nancy Beth

    Several years ago during a yoga class Leslie Kaminoff brushed his hands quickly back and forth across my breasts 3 or 4 times. Then he went right on talking and teaching. I was so shocked that I didn’t react. At the time I was still naive and trusting of authority figures in the yoga world. Since then, every time I turn around I see Leslie Kaminoff quoted in yet another yoga article as if he were knowledgeable and wise. Give him no credibility! He is just a CREEP! And here he is victim blaming. Yuck!

    • Your slanderous accusation about my behavior is an absolute lie. I have never, EVER done anything like what you described in a class.

      It is very disturbing that you would fabricate such a claim in a public forum. If you truly believe your claim is true, please provide the exact details of where and when this occurred. I am confident you will not be able to, because it never happened.

      • Waldorf T. Flywheel

        This is not a court of law. She is under no obligation to provide details of the alleged incident. We have a she said, he said situation, and the court of public opinion will be the arbiter.

    • JJ

      I’m sorry this happened to you. I watched it happen to other students before (with other teachers, male and female, no comment directly on Kaminoff), and every time I blew the whistle, it was “well, we’re all adults.”

      My initial thought in reading the statement in the article is “that’s an easy smoke screen to hide behind.” And as they say, where there is smoke, there’s usually fire, too. So, I’m not surprised by your story.

      And, as the article states, the statement is victim-blaming, but at the very least, it comes from a place of great privilege (both in terms of being male and in terms of his relative industry ‘fame’).

  • Blowhard

    Kaminoff, aided no doubt by his Breathing Project is an adept Blowhard. He is loquacious except for when Kausthub Desikachar of his lineage had a major sex scandal. Then crickets. That’s all I really need to know to evaluate his integrity.

    • @Nancy Beth (ugg gross n inappropriate! of him) & Blowhard, I’m 99%sure that maybe 10 years ago, I made a statement about race and yoga, not inflamatory simple statement of my personal experience (I cannot remember exactly) but it led to this dressing down by Kaminoff, I responded tyring to explain and was basically given the same “you are a whiner,” clearly not taken seriously, not even that he disagreed it was more like “you have nothing to say.” So I just wanted to support you guys, I remember feeling quite bruised, yet he is so respected and me just a little yogini and unknown. He def. has an arrogance to him. I think it’s important to share so others know what they r getting into.

      • Hashish

        Kala,

        Kaminoff is respected by whom? He’s a complete scheister. He doesn’t practice yoga and has never actually studied anatomy (fact). The real scientists in yoga would shred him in 2 minutes (I heard one do it hilariously at a conference recently). They have zero regard for him. Complete fake who gropes women. His reaction in this article (notice where he always has the interviewer say he is “renowned”. That’s part of his schtick. And he’s been groping students for a long time.

        • Blowhard

          Bingo! As far as formal education, he lacks any kind of authority or degree in anatomy, advanced or otherwise. Only in the yoga world could a person with such hollow credentials pontificate on the subject. I would note the same for his pal Matthew Remski.

          • Hashish

            Exactly right. Both Kaminoff and Remski are scheister opportunists of the worst kind. Remski claims to know about Ayuveda, yet has never studied it. He pontificates, promotes himself and cuts a deal with the studios that host him. They make a cut and say how wonderful he is. Both Kaminoff and Remski disdain formal education because they have none. The confluence of the unregulated yoga marketplace and the Internet have allowed them to make a living bamboozling the gullible yoga crowd. Absent yoga, they’d be lucky to be flipping burgers at Mickey D’s. And both are terrified of yoga being regulated, because the educated yogis would run them out in a second. Kaminoff has long been rumored to be groping women and it’s good to see someone coming forward about it.

        • Wow I had no idea of previous allegations against Kaminoff(sp?) I literally trust my nose my instinct- the interaction I had with him was so negative-at the time I remember a woman jumping into the fray to explain to him, what I might be saying- all online mind you, what I was saying. He was so relentlessly attacking of my personal point of view like I said I just was like wow avoid this person in future. ‘Tis true online does make it easy to inflate oneself (if what you guys are saying is fact.) Funny is I found Remkski’s writing on a scandal I think- was very clear-headed, actually he called for a boycott of the entire school if I remember and I thought it was a bit much-to even not teach yoga nidra (again if I”m remembering right.) Geesh. I do have to add I think one can have a understanding of topic over years of actual experience- our culture doesn’t tend to honor that. I mean did Iyengar get a degree in anatomy? In the beginning wasn’t it learning from doing-I’m sure later he studied it-more methodically. Just saying this to promote discussion (not to raise anyone’s hackles 😉

          • Hashish

            Iyengar taught yoga and he had spent his life developing it. If you wanted to learn yoga back in the day, he was one of the people you went to study with. If you want to study anatomy or, especially, teach anatomy, you go to learn it from people who have studied it in depth. Like at a university. Sure, there are self taught people, especially in the arts. It’s a tad rarer in the sciences, not to mention that it is unnecessary to be self taught in anatomy (and rather suspicious if one is), given the fact that there are a multitude of opportunities in any city to study anatomy under the guidance of master anatomists at the colleges. Don’t you think it’s rather presumptuous of Kaminoff to exempt himself of actually studying anatomy formally. While I would go to see an artist or musician without any care of what or where they studied, I think most of us would like for our doctors to have attended medical school, for example, although someone could talk a good show studying on their own. Remski’s a good example in Ayuveda. You can go to four different vaidyas and be classified as vastly different by each one. Nobody can really prove one is right or wrong. Something like this is perfect for any charlatan to exploit.
            I also read where Remski got on his high horse about a sex scandal in India. I saw his “call to action” as mainly self righteous and self serving, to say nothing of being rather selective. Let’s see if he writes about Jivamukti or criticizes his buddy Kaminoff on this.

          • Blowhard

            Kala, you bring up some good points that are worthy of discussion. Remski addressing a scandal is one thing. However, he frequently writes on yoga and how it relates to anatomy, a subject in which he has no formal training whatsoever. In fact, his big project is an upcoming book related to this subject in which Kaminoff is prominently featured. I view this as 2 autodidacts ego stroking each other and nothing more. As far as Iyengar, I have no idea as to his formal education, but I would point out that he never authored a book on anatomy. Kaminoff, on the other hand on the back of his book claims: “Author Leslie Kaminoff is a recognized expert and teacher in anatomy, breathing and bodywork.” By what authority does he claim expertise? I recognize a bunch of BS in both Kaminoff and Remski. Props to Hashish for recognizing the same.

          • Hashish

            Thanks for the props, Blowhard. I send them to you as well. You are exactly right about what Kaminoff says on his book. Anybody can say they are a “recognized expert” in anything really. I suppose if your wife thinks you are an expert and she recognizes you, then you can honestly say you’re a “recognized expert”. Ask any real anatomist if they recognize Kaminoff as an expert. Try it. Lacking real credentials, Kaminoff came up with his out of thin air basically. He and
            Remski disdain people with real credentials because they lacked the discipline etc to go out and really study. They act as if the degrees are nothing more than letters after someone’s name and fail to realize that there is often decades of work behind that. Remski’s relying on Kaminoff is truly the blind leading the blind.

  • ED

    To understand Kaminoff’s perspective and “authority” look at the body language and facial expressions of the students he towers over in the banner photo on his twitter home page:
    https://twitter.com/lkaminoff?ref_src=twsrc^google|twcamp^serp|twgr^author

    As for Gannon and Life – “In a video of a talk she gave on New Year’s Eve 2014, Gannon, robed in white and wearing a playful gold party hat, describes complaining—about anything—as “more poisonous than ingesting a poisonous substance.”[Slate, Goldberg]
    Years ago I happened to be standing next to David Life at one evening during Krishna Das Omega chant weekend when he complained that the premier seats in the front row were filled and he had to sit off to the side.

    At my first teacher training during the introductory session the class was cautioned on forming sexual/romantic relationships over the training, we were advised “if something of value is there it will still be there at the end, wait, don’t let it get in the way of your experience.” It was only after finishing the training I found that the staff director had been hitting on many of the young women in the group, from the very beginning.

    Through the many training’s, workshops, programs I’ve taken for my teaching education, both as a student and assistant every “guru” I’ve studied with (both sexes) have revealed their selfish, narcissistic self at some point (or many points). And from those experiences here in the west studying “postural yoga” (Georg Fuerstein & Wendy Doniger’s description) I’ve found most are not only getting off on the power differential but are in it for the big money. More yoga students took a teacher training last year than new people started practicing. In my humble berg a popular teacher and studio are well known for their many teacher trainings, their lifestyle reflects it.

    Jivamukti is said to be founded on Patthibi Jois’ Ashtanga school though, it seems, with a funny interpretation of the Yamas – Greedlessness, Non-harming, Truthfulness, Non-stealing & Brahmacharya (laughing while I type this). What hypocrites.

    And about Lady Ruth’s shaktipat guru Michael Roach: “When Roach proposed to teach in Dharamshala in 2006, the Office of the Dalai Lama rebuffed his plan, stating that Roach’s “unconventional behavior does not accord with His Holiness’s teachings and practices.”

    The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

    (I have a day job, don’t look to teaching as a way to make a living, and I follow the advice of the chant we recite before class – “Om Namah Shivaya Gurave,” – “I offer myself to the Light, who is the True Teacher within and without (the teacher of all teachers),”….
    Notice that “the True Teacher within” comes first. The guy who taught me that chant? Didn’t fool me as to what he was about.)

    • raja

      Great comment, Ed. Check out the background on the inset photo of kaminoff in the link you posted. Very creepy and revealing. Kaminoff will fall soon, only a matter of time before things come to light as with Nancy Beth’s comment above. He’s much creepier than most people know.

      • Kala

        It looks like a shadow but with holes in it. Which is weird, is that what you are referring to?

        • VQ2

          Looks like a skeleton in silhouette watermark motif (or projection) ….

  • Blowhard

    Hashish, you bring up an excellent point: “I also read where Remski got on his high horse about a sex scandal in India. I saw his “call to action” as mainly self righteous and self serving, to say nothing of being rather selective. Let’s see if he writes about Jivamukti or criticizes his buddy Kaminoff on this.” If past is prologue, I bet he will not write an article about Kaminoff. He is a hypocrite in that respect. Remski has built his reputation on publicly eviscerating people in the yoga world who are not part of his clique. Now that he has made his career on the character assassination of others, he would not dare to focus his attention on the blatant misogyny of someone who furthers his career.

  • Marouf

    Interesting comments! And two topics.
    1. Credentials, and 2. Inappropriate sexual behavior.
    Leslie Kaminoff correctly diagnosed a condition of mine after I went to see various specialists for year prior. He also corrected the condition, instantly. I trust his expertise in anatomy, and don’t mind that he makes a living off it, or that he promotes himself. The discussion of credentials is as complex as a discussion of power abuse, because so many credentialed teachers rest on their laurels, or hide behind them. Matthew Remski mostly asks questions, and I find him to do so in the most humble, yet undeterred, extremely intelligent manner.
    Kaminoff and Remski are men, and that as such, in general, their opinion is given more weight, regardless of what they themselves might do to put their voice out there. And who is giving more weight to men’s voices, over women’s?
    the more important issue here is that a woman says that Kaminoff touched her inappropriately. That is very important information and I hope that Nancy Beth will be more vocal, and that her voice will be heard.
    Kaminoff was supportive of me when I came out about being groped by Patthabi Jois. He was very insensitive with his comments about the Jivamukti case. He may have a point, legally speaking, but to strip such an issue from the complexities of power imbalance and devotees with a prior history of abuse, is male rationality taken to its extreme – where it becomes cruelty.
    Thank you Nancy Beth for speaking up. I am sorry that for ten years, you had no platform to voice your concern and were left with only confusion as to your experience. I hope that we are creating this platform.

    • Blowhard

      I’m glad you were correctly diagnosed and cured instantly. As for Remski, I find his writing to be much less probative and more incendiary. I have seen occasions where his subject has complained that he never bothered to contact them before writing about them. I would hardly characterize this as, “mostly asks questions”. In fact, numerous criticisms have been devoted to Mr. “humble”. Funny, the different conclusions people can have.

    • Misleading

      I recall when Remski tried to generate publicity off the mishap of Kino. To say that he merely asks questions is naïve at best. He is a hatchet man. Just another example of his successfully executed template of taking advantage of another’s misfortune in order to advance his ambitions. In the words of Kino: “The main takeaway that most people got from that article was that I had injured my hip because of my practice … and that seems to be the way that Matthew wrote it … What, in fact, actually happened was a really unlucky circumstance.”

  • Marouf

    Different conclusions indeed, Blowhard.
    I’m not really sure how Remski was pulled into this, as it’s Kaminoff whose strong opinions are out of synch with the sensitivity of the issue, and then the issue he himself may have to face, thanks to Nancy Beth’s comment about experiencing inappropriate touch at his hands.

    • S.

      Whether Remski wants to admit it or not, he projects the same power differential as the Gurus he tries to slay with his barrage of verbiage. When you base your whole system and teachings on criticizing others, you are bound to wind up in the sewage of these conversations. Not surprised to see his name pooping, er, popping up here.

  • Blowhard

    The absence of that Canadian Mountebank Remski in this discussion speaks volumes. He always has so much to say on every subject, except apparently this one.
    I don’t accept the pretense that he is currently unaware of this discussion and the serious allegations against his buddy Kaminoff.

  • I don’t know, what this scandal is about. It sounds like a lesbian relationship, when one partner is more powerful than the other, leading to unequal power. Quite common, I would guess. The student wanted to benefit from her partner’s power, partner took advantage of it. Compared to other scandals in the Postural Yoga business this seems rather harmless… Personally I find Jivamukti Yoga hypocritical and don’t like it at all, but will this so called scandal bring about its long overdue downfall?… I doubt it.

  • Object-Subject

    Leslie Kaminoff graciously provided this insouciant chestnut, quoted in the end paragraph of the Slate article:
    “ ‘What the fuck was I thinking?’ is probably the mantra that some of these people need to be repeating to themselves’ he says.”
    I can picture that very mantra presently reverberating through Kaminoff, from the vertex of his head to his metatarsals.

  • Robin

    Kaminoff and those other blowhards such as Cameron Shane, Bikram, Friend et al, had free rein over the vulnerable yoga community for so long that they believe they can could get away with anything because no one called them on their sh&t. Kaminoff is so Trump like, it’s scary.

    • Clear Sight

      As far as I’m concerned, you can add Remski to that list. While it has been entertaining to read his takedowns of precisely those you mention, I smell a rat. Although Remski vocally professes to be in the vanguard of social justice and yoga, it is his promotion, embrace, and featuring of Kaminoff that is the tip off. There is no way that Remski is not aware of Kaminoff’s political screeds and boorish behavior.
      Why would he do so you ask? Likely, because Shane, Bikram, Friend et al
      were not useful to furthering his career. Cozying up to them would have made no sense. Quite the opposite, they made high profile takedown fodder to jumpstart himself on the yoga traveling circuit. Kaminoff on the other hand, gets a free pass because he has been helpful in raising his profile and that of his upcoming book.

    • Dwayne

      Cameron Shayne…I think I saw an ad (was it for Jade mats? I forget) featuring him in the pages of Yoga Journal some years ago. It was side-splittingly funny: the dude was stripped to the waist, wearing black pajama bottoms, brandishing a samurai sword, sporting a Japanese first name and promoting some eponymous school of yoga/martial arts. I couldn’t stop laughing. Then, a couple of years later, he admitted to having sex with various students. I was like “…you don’t say! Who woulda thunk it?” I’m truly amazed at the amount of transparently bogus bullcrap that the “yoga community” falls for in various degrees.

  • I realize that is forum is here for yogi’s to discuss and share. It seems that on this topic, it has become a place to make accusations that cannot be resolved or addressed properly. I am not sure that I want to be associated with a community that seems to devolve on this subject with (what reads as) bitterness and venom.

  • Sanitized for your Protection

    That’s eerily similar to the kind of statement that Jivamukti put out in a letter to their community. “This negative campaign is being waged against our satsang, our principals and competency. These allegations are wrong and misguided, moving outside the realm of critical dialogue”. Whenever someone dares to question or point out problems inherent in the authority, the same old accusation of negativity or “bitterness” arises, like clockwork.

  • Wondering

    I don’t think anything here ever gets resolved or addressed properly I’m not sure what that would be. I don’t think that’s the purpose, or how/why it’s set up. Things get posted, people voice opinions/their truth, stories are told and then there appears a new posting. I think we’re chatting. Grown ups continue to worship self proclaimed gurus, experts continue to hawk everything under the sun, products appear and get consumed that no one could possibly need teacher trainings on seemingly impossible subjects…(slow yoga etc.)keep on coming, and on and on while we watch and comment. It’s fascinating and absurd and keeps it real and in perspective for me. Thanks everyone for all of it!

  • Snaphoo

    Interesting about Matthew Remski. I find his writing to be overly ponderous and fatiguing to read. The constant arcane references affirm the academic equivalent of a status seeker. I think he might be the only one to actually understand his Jabberwocky, but his readers don’t want to feel ignorant so they just either nod along or nod out.

    • S.

      Agreed. His writing style is horrid. And all of Remski’s followers just lick it up like he is some kind of genius messiah. They want to sound just as important as he is trying to sound. His Facebook feed is checkered with fifty-cent words, run on sentences, and hipster spins on concepts like “hard dualism” bandied back and forth. It is both humorous and sad to read people’s comments. They are just dying to get him to speak at their studio. No minding that that he doesn’t actually teach yoga or ayurveda, but just bags on other lineage-based systems of yoga. To describe he and his followers as “blind leading the blind” doesn’t speak well for blind people. More like the “status seeker leading the status seeker wannabes.” While this is all entertaining to follow, I predict that Remski and his system will go the way of the many others that he has tried to discredit. Again, when you base your books and “system” on hatred and bad mouthing, it is easy to be taken down when someone else who actually has something worthwhile to contribute comes around.

      • K

        Agreed. In a recent thread, a well know teacher chastised Remski saying: “More experience would help you to speak with greater circumspection and discrimination, rather than dismissing all other perspectives in favor of pushing your favorite and meticulously cultivated (and quite abstract) narrative.” Remski responded saying: “What you may not know is that I have taught asana for about a decade and received several thousand hours of training in both formal and informal programmes.” Mind you, not with 500 hours of training, no several thousand hours. I would like to know the names of the teachers he trained with for these thousands of hours. I think he counts Geshe Michael Roach for about 2900 of these hours, as he was an acolyte of that pretender for quite a while.

        • S.

          The same Geshe Michael Roach behind the death of a devotee….
          http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/sex-and-death-on-the-road-to-nirvana-20130606?page=2
          What Are We Actually Doing In Asana? Last time I checked, Jois or Iyengar were not behind the cause of death of any of their followers.

          • K

            Yes, precisely the same one. The “Gesh” was also given a prominent platform at Jivamukti. So it all comes full circle in the incestuous yoga-guru world.
            “Instead of waiting for new acolytes to come to them, Roach and McNally began holding classes at popular New York yoga studios like Jivamukti, whose clientele included Wall Street bankers, fashionistas like Donna Karan and celebrities such as Sting, Russell Simmons and Madonna.”

    • Timesaver

      His writing consists of all buzzwords and no substance. There really is no takeaway from his body of work other than yoga consists of many elements. So there it is, I’ve just saved you time and effort.

  • All About The Green

    Matthew Remski has successfully punked the yoga world. He does so by trying to take the moral high ground of seeming to care about our planet and social justice. Back in 2008 he wrote an article for Yoga Chicago called “Green Yoga: and subtitled: “How Yoga Ethics Demands That We Stop Flying (Among Other Things)”. http://yogachicago.com/2014/02/green-yoga/

    In this article he states that yoga teachers flying outside their community in order to participate in workshops or retreats are guilty of ruining our planet and stealing.

    Naturally, this was all written while he was trying to make a name for himself. Now that he is in a position to do just that, he is traveling all around. From Costa Rica to London and beyond. He is available to conduct workshops at any studio that will host him. I think it is correct that people are pointing out what a hypocrite and phony this man appears to be.

  • S.

    He will certain have to do a lot more flying around once his book is published to make good on some of those “promises” he made to large contributors of his Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. Punked is right, but fraud may be a more correct term. Remski gets most of his book fodder from his Facebook feed and interviews from his buddies. Instead of critical reason, his book is starting to sound more like a middle-school clique gossip session before PE class. It is funny when legitimate professionals and scholars confront him on his survey methods which are in no way scientific and full of biases. He uses the argument “I am not looking at yoga from that lens, but six lenses.” And then proceeds to write 600 more words of nonsensical bullshit. Imagine if the prescription drugs you were taking did not face rigorous testing, but the drug company told you “we are not looking at your medication through that lens.” That company would go belly up. One thing is for sure, if you give this guy one red cent for his book or his “talks,” the only one who will be getting punked is you.

    • Nauseating

      Wow, I looked at his travel schedule and unless he is traveling by bicycle, that swindler is truly racking up the frequent flyer miles. I would not be surprised if I saw him featured in the in flight magazines.

      • Shameful

        To think that Remski has garnered attention by focusing on his perceived frailties of the yoga community, teachers and their belief systems is just depraved. In light of the linked article, he has lost any shred of credibility.

      • Nauseating

        The term swindler is being used in the sense of being deceptive in his true beliefs as proven by present circumstances, and is not related to money. It is being used in the context of him accusing teachers of stealing when have the audacity to book a flight to attend their workshop or retreat.

    • First Class

      That article by Remski is so militant in its approach to air travel, I am stunned that the author is voyaging around the globe, no less spending his time picketing the local airport. “To step on a plane feeds deadly levels of global consumption, inequity and violence.” This is PETA level commitment. For the author to be gallivanting around the globe is equivalent to a PETA advocate being discovered to be a dogfight promoter. This seems calculated to elevate himself to saintly status while at the same time denigrating the vast yoga community, in particular teachers.

      • Mendacious Matthew

        Remski is a scoundrel. Youtube has a video of him combing the beach and waxing philosophical while promoting his 10 day retreat at Nosara in Costa Rica during 2015. I wonder if Nosara is aware of his stated opposition to people traveling there. No matter, it certainly did not deter him from enjoying some fun in the sun. Do as I say, not as I do. Stated rules don’t apply to those who can spout postmodern platitudes.
        This is in direct contradiction to his activist position in the “Green” article decrying plane travel.
        “But when we step onto a plane with a pack of other North Americans to attend a yoga conference in San Francisco or an event in the Bahamas, we literally blow our minor virtues into oblivion.”
        “Our studios ratchet up their sense of global relevance by sending their senior teachers and affluent students off to Costa Rica or Puerto Vallarta for yoga “intensives.” ‘

  • Josie

    Let not forget the other Kaminoff cronie, Wayward Lewis of Elephant Journal. That guy has been pimping the yoga community to write and work for free for years.

    • No Shock

      By the quality of the articles, I would never have guessed.

      • S.

        You mean articles like “How do I align my chakras and still keep my boyfreind while on Instagram after completing my 200 hour teacher training?” If there is one glaring reason why standards should be raised by Yoga Alliance, look no further than who is writing Elephant Journal articles. There was a time when I was disappointed when I maxed out my 3 free articles, now I can’t even make it past one without feeling nausea. I suppose I should follow some of those writers’ advice and do the “fuck it” meditation. That seems to be their approach to writing articles.

        • Spread Your Wings, Not Yours Legs

          Wailing Mucous stopped thinking I was funny — and worth taking pieces from — when I started calling his magazine “Elephant Urinal” and “Estrogen Journal.” As a goof I submitted several under a pseudonym — and they took them!

  • Sam

    The Three Stooges of the yoga world, Kaminoff, Remski and Lewis.

    • VQ2

      Can’t we add a fourth? Maranda Pleasant … ?
      Oh, just because she’s a yoga-rockstar-journalist wannabe …?

      Or because she doesn’t criticize yoga teachers???

      • roslyn

        yes please and her magazine too

  • Nosferatu

    Matthew Remski is the vampire of the yoga world. He latches on to people of real accomplishment in order to aggrandize himself. It is sad to see other people tarnished by being associated with him. Particularly sad because many of these people are sincere grass roots activists who have done the work only to have him shove his face into the picture.

  • Thanks

    My sincerest thanks and appreciation to this community for compiling this information. It is both useful and enlightening.

  • John

    Hmmm… Remski does need a rigorous editor, kaminof could use some formal anatomy training, Shane has said some outrageous stuff, there are under qualified inadequately held in reverence throughout the yoga world and… That’s not all that relevant here. The article is deeply flawed in being far too long and containing far too much irrelevant commentary. Me, I can’t help thinking that Ruth didn’t get much in return for her patronage, if getting was her goal

  • Harriet

    I stopped reading elephant journal when they started selling yoga junk on it; like as if the earth isn’t littered with enough garbage. So much for being a mindful website.

  • Luc

    Interesting thread and discussion as always. I agree with many of yout statements although I really have a problem with attacking Kaminoff and Remski. I don’t know them personally but I read their articles and I think they are well written and insightful. I don;t think that ona needs to have formal education to become an expert in a discipline. There are many people who started studying movement and anatomy later in their life after graduating economics or anything else and by disciplined study of books and participating in courses developed very good understanding of biomechanics and anatomy. I would appreciate if you would point out where Kaminoff understanding / descriptions / articles are false instead of saying that someone shredded him to pieces. Maybe yes, maybe not. I don;t care. The thing I observe and strongly dislike though is when your only argument is that somenone lacks formal education but you’re not able to discuss with his discoveries / teaching. If that’s the case, please, tell us where in his teaching he is wrong – just one example and discuss with it. By accusing someone or repeating hearsay you prove nothing. You just try to descredit this person in an easiest way – not by substantive discussion and pointing where someone is wrong but by discrediting this person. Recently I had a conversation with a doctor who tried to prove that there’s no fluid in the joints (synovial fluid). He said he was a doctor and he, obviously knows better, after I’ve showed him physiology books he didn’t say sorry. He felt offended. He had formal education but it didn’t mean anything.

  • Expert

    It seems everyone is an expert these days. A wellness expert, a yoga expert, an anatomy expert. Does not matter your actual education, just call yourself an expert. Shameless promotion.

  • Troubling

    Yes, and the guru honorifics flow like the Ganjes as well. “Lady” Ruth. That title was “bestowed on her by Geshe Michael Roach”. He himself, along with Sharon Gannon and David Life are self appointed gurus. Such false crowns are common in the “egoless” world of yoga. Teachers are referred to or self refer as (name)”JI” or the even more common goddess or priestess. Truth is, these people have no more credibility than any random unknown person, and quite probably less.

    • Troubling

      On second thought; Maybe even more troubling is my initial misspelling of Ganges 🙂

  • Source

    The more people can speak up about yoga abusers the better, this problem has become endemic in our community. Kaminoff was recently in our city and a number of yoga teachers have been talking about his verbally abusive style of teaching and downright intimidation of people who have paid (wasted) their money to see him. Its about time we stood up to the likes of him, they give us all a bad name.

  • Northern Harrier

    Holly Faurot spoke and Holly Faurot conquered. Thank you and deep genuine gratitude for Holly Faurot and the converation she invoked that will go down in yoga history.

    Settlement documents from earlier this week here:

    https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/nyscef/DocumentList?docketId=U/Agbv0/OtOJzVSiXwnTSQ==&display=all

    These may get sealed at some point and an attempt to banish them from the internet by Jivas who will spin according to their indoctrination.

    Who will fall next??!!

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