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Yoga Scandals: Dysfunction And Healing

in Yogitorials

scandals-karinlburke

by Karin L. Burke

I’m going to write about sex. Heaven help us. And about Jivamukti, Holly Faurot, and Ruth Lauer-Manenti. I’m going to suggest that hips are soulful, complicated things.

I have to offer a caveat. I’ve only ever practiced at Jivamukti like twice in my life. I do not know any of the principal actors in this particular drama. I haven’t interviewed anybody. This isn’t journalism. I can’t speak to Holly Faurot’s experience, or Ruth Lauren-Manenti’s. Nor have I even, to be honest, read all of the material available.

In fact, I’ve avoided it.

I’ve avoided it because I am exhausted by it. I am exhausted by the way teacher-student abuses happen again, and again, and again. And I am exhausted by the way we—yoga teachers, practicers, professionals and lay folk—flounder after each incident. We roil and moan and throw hissy fits, like a very dysfunctional family. We break down. We pick sides. We shout, hurl things about, blame and deny and project and deflect. Most of all, we slide right back into the same old cycles.

I have to offer another caveat: I am a yoga teacher and writer. I run a studio, and I lead an RYT program. I’m a student of Leslie Kaminoff. I’ve brushed writing and debating shoulders with Matthew Remski for years. I criticized his reaction to the case. This felt gross. I didn’t want to get involved in the first place—my key tactic is avoidance, the aforementioned fatigue, nar, nar. Further, I really like Remski. I tremendously respect his work. I see him as a hero, in some ways the kinda folk I want to be, a guy who’s work foreshadows and proves the kind of work I want to do. It is uncomfortable to criticize what you love. Further still, I wondered if my relationship with Kaminoff wasn’t influencing my reaction to Remski. If Remski’s reaction wasn’t influenced by his own, history. The dysfunctional family model, right pure. You see how complicated this is. We whimper. We parse. We walk on eggshells.

I simultaneously am not involved, and I am tremendously embroiled. Remski, Kaminoff and I are all part of a system that also includes abusers. And I am a woman who has hips.

F**k it, then. I’m going to write about sex.

**

The yoga world is no different than the rest of the world.

We don’t want this to be true. We want our practice to be a sanctuary. If not a transformation. We want this thing, this thing that has personally given us so much, to be unquestioned, trustworthy, self-evident. It hurts to criticize what you love.

And yet, what shows up in a yoga practice is exactly the same shit that shows up everywhere else in our lives. We ground, and what arises out of grounding turns out to be the same familiar patterns of thought, of sex, of money, of self-esteem, of family, and of society that we were trying to get away from.

Our reality is knit together in strange ways. The joy of the body, the strange interface of anatomy and psychology, the question of personality, responsibility, choice. The way we repeat ourselves, even when we’re trying not to and know better. I can’t say that the body and mind are related, any longer, because practice has shown me that they are one and the same thing.

So many of us are running to a yoga studio in an attempt to run away from church. Or a cult. Or stress. Or childhood. So many of us deny or ridicule the teacher-guru relationship because we feel more intelligent than that. It is easy to dismiss the rampant sexual abuse, transference, obsessive behavior of the yoga world as being neurotic, sick, and not our problem because we don’t to question our own dependence on the practice. We certainly don’t want to stop practicing. We intellectualize, deny, say it’s just a physical workout. We want yoga to fix our problems, and then get emotional and reactive when it brings our problems to the fore. Intention is really just a fancy, more acceptable word for motive.

I realized, once, that I am very lucky. I dismissed Bikram’s behavior because I loved the way the practice made me feel. Later, I left teaching commercially in the fall out of the John Friend scandal. I opened up a non-profit studio and taught in my own way, thinking I was better than the scandals and the sell out and the hype.

I wasn’t better than; I was lucky. I fell in love with the practice. Like head over heels. The euphoria. The highs, the devotional vows, the tears. The increasing time spent. The way I sought it out, constantly. I never fell for a teacher, and the times teachers were creepy with me, I simply did my practice and never went back. But once, on retreat, I fell in love with another student. I simultaneously knew that I was projecting—the openness I felt, the tenderness, the vulnerability, the intoxication—and I couldn’t help it. I behaved like a teenager stomping her foot. I cried and over shared. My nerves all stood and my heart ripped wide. It was physical. It was emotional. I was a mess. I apologized and then did it all over again. Then, because it’s my way, I avoided the whole issue and ran away. This was easy enough, when we both went home after retreat.

I’m not any more intelligent or detached or healthy than Holly Faurot, or anybody, really. I am effortlessly neurotic. This shows up in the way I use my practice to avoid my family, or the one pitifully small but actually responsible thing I need to do now and then. The way practice has startled me with my own behavior in intimate relationships, and over time, made me more skillful in them. A bit, a little bit more skillful in them. And, it shows up in the way I want to distance myself from the absurdities of the yoga world.

Our consciousness is knit together in uncanny ways. Practice begins to unravel us.

**

The thing is, transference is actually a healthy thing. You want transference to happen, in psychotherapy. It’s where the gold is.

And, it happens between students and teachers of yoga. It should, if we want yoga to do the things we say it does.

I think the current popularity of downplaying the role of the teacher is problematic. It’s symptom of dysfunctional system, not a healing or post-modern evolution of the dysfunctional system.

The problem is we’re a messy, violent society, and yoga has become utterly socialized. We call RYT 200s ‘teachers’, because that’s what the market demands. It’s easy and we want what we want. But convenience isn’t necessarily ethical. RYT 200s are woefully unequipped to deal with transference or trauma, being nothing more than representative sampling of society, themselves.

Transformation happens interpersonally. Every single religion and intervention known to history knows this. We still know it in the context of education, medicine, and mental health. To deny that anything less is happening in a Core Power class, or an ashram, or a bunch of mats rolled out in a YMCA, is denial. To clamor for trauma informed teaching standards is, I tend to think, both a non-issue and an oxy-moron.
I think it’s very nearly predictable that boundaries and sex and shame and abuse will come up. We’re dealing with bodies, after all. And I think until we recognize that people are coming to yoga with f**ked up psychologies at the same rate the general population has f**ked up psychologies, until we deny the ability to ‘heal’ people or ‘transcend’ suffering, this stuff will keep on happening.

The student teacher relationship is precious. A teacher can see patterns and doorways and truths that we can’t see, that we didn’t know were there, simply because we’re too close to them. Stay with me, this is hard to articulate, this is loaded with gunshot and cultural bias and taboo: the student teacher role is one of intimacy. And trust. And time.

The issue is that a teacher isn’t a person. A teacher is a context.

And, the teacher is a person.

I trust my teachers. With my body. When a teacher asks me to do something I’m uncomfortable with, I do it. I work at it for a long time. Falteringly. Self doubtingly. Eventually, with more clarity. I go to my teachers because I trust them, in some ways, more than I trust myself.
I trust them to help me feel, and then support me while I do the difficult work of dealing with my shit.

Would I give them money? No. Would I betray my own ethics, sexuality, or politics? No. But again, I think I am lucky to have had good teachers throughout my life, pre and post yoga.

But you’re goddamned right I will listen when my teacher invites me to feel something, see my insecurities and work with them, step out of my comfort zone. I’ve done bizarre things on my teacher’s suggestion. We all have. This business of standing on our heads is absurd, if you think about it. I’ve sounded mantras. I’ve taken to bowing to my own mat, in my own home, when there is no one there to bow to. I’ve committed to studying with them at significant personal investments of time, money, and choice. I am directly, and intimately, toying with my own boundaries. I hope to work with my teachers for many, many more years. I sometimes examine my own body in the mirror, baffled by what teachers have seen there. I want to see what it is they see.

I insist: this is very much about relationship. In some ways, my teachers are closer to me than are friendships. More intimate. You see, I trust that my teachers don’t actually want to get anything from me. Friends, and my family and my lovers, all do.

People walk into public classes with bodies. To work with the body means to work with the mind. People are walking into studios, gyms, and teacher training programs with sexuality, family history, compulsions and fears. We’re walking in with a desire to please, with our fear of rejection, and our need to be accepted. No matter how secular, how pop cultured, or how choreographed the sequencing is, the moment people engage their breath and their movement they are playing with shadows, old wounds, broken hearts, and neediness.

The yoga world is no different than the rest of the world. And yet, if you’re reading this, you’re probably also partial to the idea that yoga is different, yoga is special, yoga is important.

I agree.

We all want, somehow and probably very inarticulately, for yoga to fix our problems. We want our yoga to feel good.

In other words, we want transcendence.

**

We don’t get what we want in this practice. Yoga doesn’t fix our problems or cure our illnesses so much as it heals our relationship with reality. I often say that yoga saved my life. What I mean is, yoga enabled me to do the things I needed to do, like get my ass to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and keep my butt in that chair. To reconcile my teenage runaway angst. To return to my family after all of those years running away. To work with my own depressions and fears and failures so skillfully that I can, perhaps, be a more useful member of society. But yoga didn’t, like I first wanted, fix my drinking problems or relieve my depression. It only made them achingly clear.

Two days ago a teen girl told me she’d attempted suicide that morning and asked for yoga to help. I referred her directly to her therapist and called 911. Yesterday someone else confided her disordered eating. I referred her to a therapist. Two weeks ago someone asked what was happening to her, cited strange, assertive and socially engaged things she was doing in her world, said yoga is doing this, what is happening to me? I agreed with her, roundly. Yoga made all these interactions happen. I told her to get out there, keep doing the advocacy work on the governmental level. Sticking around working on advanced poses with me wasn’t going to do as much.

Do you see what I’m saying? Yoga restores us to the world. The real world of sexual assault, blame and denial, power and inequality, rather than endlessly seeking to transcend them. I can help people see where they are stuck in postural and behavioral patterns. That might provoke them to some personal shifts. But that is all I am qualified to do.

**

I have been lucky. There have only been a few times, as a yoga teacher, I have felt it necessary to end a relationship with a student because their attraction to me didn’t resolve. I haven’t been abused by teachers. But I have gone through painful periods of disillusion.
I have worked with countless students who have been in sexual relationships with teachers, had friendships with teachers, sexual abuse scenarios with yoga teachers, fathers, priests, university professors, bosses.

And yet, so many of those students go on in their practice. So many people bring their dysfunctional childhood, violent neighborhoods, war scarred memories to a yoga practice. And even though so much yoga is bullshit, so many of them tend to keep going. To find a better teacher. To seek out something, more. So many people have been physically hurt by an astanga practice, or emotionally hurt by an Anusara scandal, and yet here they are.
I tend to think that ‘scandals’ like the one at Jivamukti will go on happening, can’t but not happen, so long as people with hips walk in with their neurosis and people who also have hips and neurosis get teacher training certificates.

It is my hope, though, that we continue to look for teachers.

**

In terms of mental health, we’re stuck if we can only see people in black and white, victim and perpetrator terms. If we can only tell one story of our father, we’re stuck. If we can see that he was both a good and a bad father, had both good and bad characteristics, then we’ve begun the process of healing.

Honest reflection throws blinding and sometimes uncomfortable light on the disappointments, the mistakes, the absurdities, the failures and the crimes committed within the yoga tradition. There have been many. And yet, here we all are, still trying to practice yoga. Still trying to believe in it. This should help. This should free us from the naive expectations and the equally naïve resentments we’ve cultivated.
We can’t blame victims, and we can’t continue to simply blame the system.

This is a wisdom tradition. The teaching of wisdom lays out clear, and personal experience readily verifies, that schools of thought bring forth violence, injustice, and betrayal of truth just as often as they bring forth remarkable revolution, personal or communal transformation. They bring injury just as often as they reveal anything like insight. Wisdom is a practice of being neither foolishly discouraged by human cruelty nor foolishly idealistic about its purported ideals. It is dangerously naïve to believe that because yoga has such deep promises at it’s root, the current of benevolent non-attachment and ahimsa will flow through its teachers and students, en masse. It ain’t so. It can’t be. This isn’t true of Yoga in general and it isn’t true of Yoga in an individual’s experience.

The teachings (and common sense, and science) saddle us with this difficulty: individually and collectively, we betray our ideals in our actions, yet it is possible in the midst of samskara for lives to change. But this possibility is hard: it demands both the working together of communities, and it requires individuals who are intensely devoted to the work of understanding themselves.

Do you see what I mean? There is no f**king such thing as transcendence.

I think that I went through a very, very long process. At first, I understood yoga as a body, thing. Then, I understood yoga as a personal development, thing. Now I am at a place where I actually think yoga is something sacred. Here’s the kicker: it never stopped being those first, things. It can’t. It didn’t stop being superficial, it simply became more. In time. In relationship.

This is what we have to do: become a whole f**king lot more, personally, and we have to relate. We must. We have to have nuance enough to see that victim and perpetrator isn’t good enough. Anyone telling you they know the answers to, or who to blame for, these terribly complex problems isn’t really being honest, in some way.

It aches. That the yoga world is no different than the rest of the world. I hate this. Just as I hate my family, sometimes, but still love them. I hate the yoga world, but I’m not about to stop practicing. Remski, Kaminoff, Holly Faurot and I are part of a system that also includes abusers. It’s a tremendous burden to realize the group is a body, and the body is broken. I mean, how do we accept the dysfunctional family and also believe in the possibility of healing? I don’t even know that I do believe this, that it’s possible, that we can work toward more integrity in teacher-student relationships. But I do want to try.

Maybe if we got good at this people would call the Jivamuktis out, before so many people got hurt.

~

Karin L. Burke is the founder of Return Yoga, a non-profit studio in St. Cloud, MN. She’s trying to change the YTT model into something called the Deeper Practice Curricula, which could be training for certification, but is more like mentorship and personal study. She’s also slowly writing a book.

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49 comments… add one
  • Footnotes

    Nice article. For a further in depth no holds barred discussion on this matter, I suggest reading the fine article previously published by Yogadork here: http://yogadork.com/2016/04/05/jivamukti-sexual-harassment-suit-revisits-questions-of-guru-worship-and-abuse-of-power/#comments

  • S.

    Funny you should mention Remski. He bullies, shames, mocks, and trivializes those who don’t subscribe to his narrow view of yoga. Just look at how he blamed Kino for her hip injury, or drove Sharf to tears during his hatchet job interrogation. Or how he mocked Iyengar just hours after his death. I can see why he is always first in line to throw others under the bus…he is deflecting the fact that he is indeed the driver.

    • Beer Now

      Agreed S. I found it rather sad (and ridiculous) that the author of this article would characterize Remski as a “hero”. No, he’s not a hero. Actual heros take real risks and will lay all on the line, without a view to self aggrandizement (or gaining anything at all). Remski’s diatribes are all self serving. They typically follow on the heels of some other news organization exposing whatever it may be his current “cause” is. In fact, his “stands” on behalf of some person(s) actually degrade them, because he uses their misfortune to promote himself. A number of media outlets had already written about the Jivamukti lawsuit. Remski simply jumped on the bandwagon. Not particularly heroic. It amazes me that people buy into his schtick and hail his “courage”. The reality is that Remski loves these unfortunate situations. He misrepresents and mischaracterizes events and people. An example from the current situation are his statements that the Jivamukti dropped their motion to dismiss, which Remski characterized as based on legal technicalities. However, according to Jivamukti, the plaintiff dropped a number of the counts (rape etc). Apparently the parties to the suit agreed to a stipulation wherein the defense would drop their motion to dismiss in exchange for the plaintiff dropping a number of charges. That is a negotiated exchange as often occurs in lawsuits and is likely a prelude to a negotiated settlement. I bring it up becauses it’s an example of how Remski mischaracterizes matters. He tries to back peddle after Jivamukti points this out in their own statement. Mr. Heroic may actually be soiling his superman underwear about now, because Jivamukti may have their own case against him.

  • What a guest blogger wrote on the subject three years ago: https://lindasyoga.com/2013/06/17/sex-lies-and-yoga/

    Ain’t nothing new.

  • paly

    glad to see some realism about remski in these comments, the flimflam keeps on flamin.
    what i think burke misses is that while yoga is a wisdom tradition it is often treated as choose-your-own-adventure, and for the most it seems instead of moksa and suffering, trancendance and trauma are chosen; the means are similar but without knowing that there is a difference between the two sets, it seems “sanctuary” is improbable even though it is necessary for either set.
    moving out dualisms and seeing the limits of blame are good to read.

  • Cognizant

    Agreed. Remski has all the appearance of an unctuous opportunist. As a self admitted former member of 2 cults, he is well versed and cunning in his use of persuasion techniques. I’m not fooled and am happy to see others see him for what he is.

    • Coif

      The false guru world seems to be crawling with roaches. Remski’s hairdo seems patterned after Geshe Roach. Maybe he can write an article deconstructing his own projected image.

  • Love Child

    Remski is actually thrilled by events like the Jivamukti lawsuit. In the sidebar of the article he wrote about it he has a banner on the side hawking his bullshit, lightweight online course (supposedly) on asana. Typically, if someone was truly caring about some type of social injustice, they would forego advertising an unrelated product they were selling to the folks that came to read about the alleged injustice. Basically, he uses the misfortune of Holly (or someone else he writes about) as click bait for his bogus online course. That this is actually rather crass has apparently not occurred to him. Did the same thing with his story about “Kino’s hip”. It was actually a pretty minor injury. Didn’t warrant a big story (didn’t warrant any story). But he was coming out with his bogus course right after that and he knew it would work for click bait.
    Spoiler alert on Remski’s online course: utter waste of time and money.

    • S.

      Does Remski actually “teach” yoga? None of my teachers base their style on bashing other systems like he does.

      • Raptor

        I think he just writes blogs or “slogs”, as they are arduous to read.

        • Conniver

          Remski figured out that ratting er writing about others frailties is much more profitable than actually teaching, and much less effort.

          • kj

            Remski basically helped kaminoff whitewash his statements to Slate. Other than that, he didn’t provide anything new about the Jivamukti lawsuit. As usual, he mischaracterized the situation for his benefits. In my view, he’s like a parasite on the yoga world. Quite devious. His sole objective with yoga is monetary (as is his buddy kaminoff). I’m glad to see others feel quite strongly the same way. I predict he will shortly be going down much in the same way other (much more famous) douchebags have gone. I will enjoy that and will do whatever I can to hasten it. He seeks controversy and fabricates it if it isn’t there.

  • Barry John

    I dont know the characters or circumstances of this case, and i dont think it matters. For me the article is about how have any number of relationships in the world whereby we give trust to some authority figure and it can be abused or otherwise lead to unhealthy reactions. In the field of yoga, the situation can be worse in that it is veiled under a context of spirituality, with personally therapeutic overtones and physicality without some of the protections/rules/ethics that might govern other fields with similar relationships of trust.

  • A.

    To all those bashing Remski – I have found is work on speaking out for survivors of abuse in the various yoga systems to be admirable and incredibly liberating. He speaks for many of us who don’t have or haven’t yet found our own voices, including myself. Just as importantly, he’s part of an essential movement actively pushing for change. His writing style is a little self-congratulatory, but that pales in comparison to his intention. As an abuse survivor and PTSD recoveree, both from childhood and from within a long standing, mainstream yoga community, I’m naturally sensitive to people’s ulterior motives. Remski’s indignant activism feels honest and heartfelt.

    • paly

      a.- i think he thinks himself heartfelt, which comes across in his writing, but it’s because he presents himself as honest that has annoyed people. he consistently misrepresents his subjects, most especially the people he presents in his stories as the bad guys, stories that end up not being about the people he’s writing about, but about him. even here the discussion is about him. but it’s not about him, it’s about the many people like him who ooze sincerity but the goo is cover for their lack of expertise (or moral center or whatever). i see it as the same goo burke is talking about not oozing because it is preventing integrity. that he’s writing about the abused multiplies the annoyance, putting up a dirty salve (a salve inextricably tied to his personal brand, which j brown talks on in the article following this one).

      • A.

        paly & Shark,

        I’ve read a few of Remski’s articles on teacher-student abuses and other topics, and I never came away with the impression that he was trying to sell me anything other than the ideas he was sharing. And many (not all) of those ideas were incredibly helpful to me at a time when I was still trying to heal from an abusive relationship with my longtime (nearly 20 years!) yoga teacher.

        You see, the thing is, people like me only have a small voice, if any. Just the fact that I am on this comment thread asserting my views takes personal courage. Remski, the author of the article above and others like them are needed. They help speak for the silent ones, some of whom are still in hiding and pain.

        I’m curious if you are an abuse survivor? I wonder if you were you would have come away with a competently different message from his writing? One of the commentors above even seems to bemoan the fact that he was in 2 cults. But what better person to empathize with others who were also caught up in them?

        • Hoo Baba Kanda

          A: Have you considered seeking professonal help? Seriously, if you’re stilling suffering from a relationship with your yoga teacher from 20 years ago, you might want to seek professional help from somewhere other than Remski’s blog. He has no professional training of any kind. But he seems to coddle people like you and keep you in “victim mode”. If you were to read Holly’s experience from the Jivamukti situation, you would see that she sought professional help, found it and was able to shine a light on what was happening, including her vulnerabilities and inability to see what was occurring. Now she is moving on with her life and perhaps she’ll recognize the potential for abuse and be able to avoid it.
          So, please, spare me your continued rhetoric about courage etc. Most of us have been abused, conned or betrayed at some point in our lives. Most of us learn to move on without it defining us. It sounds to me as if you like wallowing in your “pain”. Frankly, you sound like a head case. Remski will be happy to use you.

          • A.

            He’s big, he’s bad, he’s brave Hoo Baba Kanda: “I tear down the person who doesn’t agree with me!” (HOo BaBA Kanda now beats chest). “I diminish their suffering and devalue their words. I call them crazy. I become the bully I’m so quick to denounce ONLINE. I’ll show them what courage is!” Silly boo kabda handa. Caught forever in the karmic wheel.

        • paly

          a.- he has written good things, but as burke writes, the trancendent doesn’t exist. if he hadn’t written attack pieces that not just misrepresent but maufacture targets, these conversations against him would not be happening.

          voices of those subject to the abuse are kept silenced on purpose not only for the advantage of the abuser but for the culture that supports abusers/abuse; people speak with their own voices and they are dismissed as angry :(. ‘the gaslight effect’ is a self-help book, i got a lot out of it, and i think the ideas in it can be expanded to be about our culture not just individuals. for myself, this is my motivation to flag him as a flimflamer, because do to otherwise ends up reenforcing the supremacy of the abuser/gaslighter.

          being abused makes one an expert in the methods of abuse, not healing from it (except for our own subjective experience towards it). for most of the life of his website, he had no writeup on his own training, always a red-flag and not changed until a few days ago. if he wasn’t presenting himself as a professional, as a ayurvedic expert/teacher, as a reporter-interviewer, this wouldn’t matter; he’s be a blogger who wrote helpfully.
          (ps. i wrote a (too) long piece on the wrongs of the scharf/yogappropriation event, https://medium.com/@paly/yoga-impugn-cfa53aa624df#.icv7euzfn and want to underscore that his ‘threads of yoga’ is itself entirely appropriative; to my knowledge he has made no mention of this.)

    • S.

      Who speaks for many who don’t have or haven’t yet found their own voices for the people who Remski bullies? He makes fun of people who are injured, unjustly fired, or recently deceased without the dignity of observing a mourning period. Your “hero” is a pathological abuser himself A. Just read his blog. The pattern is clear.

      • A.

        I have read his blog, many times. I do not agree with everything he says, but I have never seen him pathological bully anyone.

        Also, he is not my hero. I never said he was, I just said his writing has helped me. Be careful of misdirecting your anger in defense of your own heroes.

        • S.
          • A.

            The page you sent me to has a lot going on in it and reads like an angry rant. I’m guessing I’m meant to pick up that the author wasn’t happy with Remski’s reporting on her class being closed down for low attendance??

            I will repeat again. Remski’s writing on abusive teacher-student relationships has been a great help to me, an individual who’s been on the receiving end of such abuse. I’m thankful for it and other authors like him who continue to lead the charge. I don’t expect it touch everyone everyone, especially if they haven’t shared similar abuse type experiences.

            Best to you.

          • S.

            This passage in the linked post was disturbing to me…
            “We emailed back and forth many times, culminating in a one hour long phone conversation that ended with me breaking down crying. He was pushing me to say that I am not qualified to teach because of “intersectionality” (still coming up as a spelling error).”

            Is this an example of “speaking out for survivors of abuse in the various yoga systems” as you say, or is this just plain abuse? I find it sickening that someone who doesn’t actually teach yoga feels compelled to tell someone he has never met face to face that she is not qualified to teach yoga on the basis that she is a non Indian Caucasian woman, or whatever he interprets “intersectionality” to mean.

  • Shark

    A.
    Certainly I understand the attraction of Remski and actually agree with some of his writing. Problem is, he portrays himself as altruistic, though he more resembles a clever self-promoter. He selectively insinuates himself as the self appointed spokesperson for popular grass roots issues and reaps financial gain. He has the stench of an ambulance chaser.

    • A.

      Thank you for your reply Shark. I responded to you and paly above.

  • It’s really easy to write about spiritual abuse when you are an expert at it. That man maybe has helped some people feel better about themselves, but is no Yogi nor representative of anything that could sensibly be called “Yoga”… Being brainwashed by Marxist ideology and championing Yoga seem to go hand in hand around these parts though! No Yogi would ever claim themselves adherents to such a reductionist triviality as oppressor oppressed dualism. That you are not as angry as I am also indicates you do not understand the core of Yoga… This is where my anger comes from: that you have not been properly taught. How can anyone understand something they have not been taught? How can one teach?

    • A.

      Ah, I see. Remski upset you personally (ego, no?), and so you are now on a mission to discredit him and derail anyone who happens to say they have been helped by his writing by telling them they are not a real yogi. You blame others for your own anger and devalue their opinions and experiences because they don’t perfectly align with your (ego, no?). You only show your true colors. You’re not angry at me, you’re just angry. I hope your healing comes soon, for the sake of yourself AND your students. Our conversation is at an end. Peace.

      • You have no authority to criticize my actions. My sites should prove to a reasonable person beyond a doubt that I am sincere and knowledgeable on the subjects people are lucky enough for me to represent. That you cannot see your hypocrisy in criticizing me (are you egotistically self-transcendent? clearly not or you would embrace me as a friend instead of taking low-level egotistical reactance swipes, fool). Real seekers can easily discern between the likes of Remski and I, so this message is more for them. That you are willing to dismiss me outright indicates you don’t really understand my motivations at all. I want to help people, but I know that won’t happen when Yoga is represented by lying marxist shit munchers whose ideology i just debunked in under 4 minutes using math. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rM8QbdOWM8

        that’s right: I have been a teacher of math/science/English/French since I was a kid and I’ve done nothing but politely sit on the sidelines of the freakshow since I started volunteer teaching to raise awareness of the fraudulence in Yoga. You’re a failure of a feminist/Yogi if you won’t respect and celebrate my view. I come armed to the teeth with science. I love my people and I defend them ardently… Remski treated me as an inhuman peon. No one willing to do that to someone as myself can be said to have one iota of Yoga knowledge.

        Regarding the snake-voiced “Yoga person”: the basis of his article (asides his liedeology) is that the class was cancelled due to low attendance: a lie! Are you suggesting I sit and take it like the “good little Catholic girl” I should be to practice Yoga? Fuck you. That you cannot see his actions as problematic indicate you are the one with a bruised ego. I’m just sad that Remski has any influence at all.

        He lied to serve his false god of feminist marxist ideology while claiming to represent Yoga (Marxism = violation of Dharma). The author of this piece seems to be on the right track but unlike myself, she won’t come out and criticize the elephant in the room (sorry for the parallel Ganesha!), that’s why I am doing it!!!!!! So all others hurt by abusers will know that they deserve better.

        that Hinduism regards ahimsa so highly and that I have been pushed to the point where I am willing to do this with absolutely no second thought should give a hint of the magnitude of the transgression, you shallow half wit.

  • Beware

    A. This following comments were written about Matthew Remski from a noted teacher he personally engaged with on his climb up the fame ladder:
    “The treatment of women in his work is no longer just a little bit off. It’s pathological, and features repeated campaigns of intimidation to cover his tracks. For an example of how the author now relates with his target audience of young yoga women, check out his interactions with Emma Hudelson in the comments section here ([…]) , or follow up on the aftermath of his exploitative piece “Kino’s Hip”. After that, learn of his mistreatment ([…]) of the yoga teacher involved in the well publicized Canadian “yoga appropriation” controversy (bad links there? = examples of Remski dominating and deceiving young women that have since been scrubbed from the internet). You could also read his first book, which is a kind of sexual violation fantasy about a sister/goddess figure.

    BOTTOM LINE: I suggest that female writers be intellectually suspicious of this writer, especially because if you are initially charmed by him, you will be targeted later to be his students, or even his private interview subjects.

    The semi-invisible aggression in Remski’s work is the reason I originally declined to review this book for him. There is a violence in his use of ideas and ideology, and his words are endless. The energy of charisma and verbal manipulation is overwhelming, and it NEVER NEVER ends. Eventually, detractors just get exhausted. So I dodged.”
    Excerpted from full transcript contained in an Amazon Book Review by noted teacher Angela Jamison:
    http://www.amazon.com/review/R19TKA36GMT1MU

    • “his words are endless.”

      that sums Remski up very nicely.

  • A.

    To all those out to prove to me and any others who would listen, what a lousy person Remski really is, thanks but no thanks. I came on here to say what I know from my own personal experience – that his writing has helped me and that I’ve read several of his blogs and never once walked away with any particular dark view of him, and I continue to stand by that.

    I’m not interested in refuting every single comment on here (some of which have been personally offensive and disturbing). That would take far too much reading of god knows how many more articles and blogs by Remski and others. Life is too short. Thank you to all those who responded respectfully, but I’m leaving this virtual conversation to get to some actual real world practice. Peace to all!

  • Hoo Baba Kanda

    A: Your response to my advice shows me that you don’t want to come out of the pattern you’re in. You want to continue in a rut like a broken record. Matthew will help you to do this!
    But if you want to tap into real power, if you want to understand and have life open its great maw before you and shower you with incandescence burning bright like some kind super nova, you’ll follow my advice. You are on the cusp, A. The cusp.
    Give up Remski…

    There was a story, A…
    There was a great master once. People came from near and far to bask in his luminescence and to hear his wisdom. He sat under a tree…

    Then, one day a sanyasa came to him.

    He said, “Master, I want to be enlightened!”

    The master looked at him intently for some time…

    Finally.

    He reached forward and touched the sanyasa with his little toe.

    The seeker cried out “OUCH!!!” as if he had been struck with an electric shock.

    Then…

    The master said to him,

    “Not in this lifetime…”

    Neat story, isn’t it? and all wrapped up in one.

  • k4k

    My goodness! It seems the thread of this conversation has turned into a drunken spider’s web with no hope of sorting itself out. Yoga, Marxism, feminism, mathematics and abuse all rolled into one big mess. In the famous words of Rodney King, “Can we all get along?” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodney_King).

    Peace out.

    • Spread Your Wings, Not Your Legs

      I am taking an ioformal poll.

      Which is more riven by jealous insecurities, unacknowledged addictions, boundless narcissism, and murderous rage — American dance or American yoga?

      Which has more imperious abusive teachers?
      Which has more dangerous and insufferable Black Swans?
      Which produces more injuries — both internal/psychological and physical?
      Where is the bulimia and anorexia rate higher?
      Who modality has the best wardrobes?
      Where can you score faster?

      Just curious

      In the studios the women come and go
      Talking of life and yoga glo

      • Dwayne

        Don’t really know or care, but per capita it’d have to be the former (dance), though yoga would prevail in terms of absolute numbers.

        • VQ2

          Any of the Zumba-like dance disciplines have to be the glaring exceptions to that rule. Kid-friendly, family-friendly are these disciplines—precocious development of pathos, emotional scarring, artistic infighting, rivalries and eating disorders far less discouraged in the young … than in non-fun (i.e., professional development in youth) dahhhnce …

          • VQ2

            I meant: far more discouraged and far less evident in Zumba-like disciplines (add to that most conscious dance, except for Gaga, which would not accept children under 15, I think)

    • Kin we all git along

      no.

  • PS in NY

    Burke writes, “When a teacher asks me to do something I’m uncomfortable with, I do it.” Well, I don’t. I have never trusted the guru model of teaching. There has always been that still, small voice within, that “true teacher” that yoga blabs about so much but continually ignores. It is my instinct, and *that* is what I have learned to trust. Once you ask me to give up thinking for myself, to bend myself to your will and become subservient, I am out the door. I’ve learned valuable lessons from the few good teachers I have studied with (and I’ve learned from bad teachers what to avoid at all costs). However, my loyalty is to the practice of yoga itself, and not to any one teacher

    • Daddy daddy why are you so mean, Daddy

      Is Remski the new yoga poster/whipping boy because there’s a lull in the Bikram trials? Interesting that a discussion begin about abuses by women in yoga — has magically returned to MEN. Am I surprised in a movement that is 80%+ female and has had such a hard time taking a good look at itself?

      Why don’t we get back to the uniquely female pathologies that might be cropping up (I would say engulfing, but I’m trying to be generous) inside Yoga World?

      Try to relate the female teacher-female student codependency to your own experience? Ladies? Enlighten us

  • k4k

    To PS in NY: Amen.
    My yoga teacher (who is fantastic) always says “You are your own best teacher. I am just a guide.”

  • VQ2

    So, Matthew Remski is guilty of being the Malcolm Gladwell of yoga, according to some of you upthread. But, imho, this characterization is being very complimentary to Mr. Gladwell …
    Journalistic mountain peak-scalers such as Remski or Gladwell still do have to have some kind of chops.
    Remski’s only “sin” is of actually not being among the pantheon of “independent intellectuals” with or without institutional “anointment” or academic degrees, when it comes to yoga (which, evidently has its academic programs in addition to registration credentialization, now …)

    • pal

      vq2- if gladwell gave therapy sessions or otherwise presented himself as a psychologist, your analogy would hold (weakly, and onlyinsofar as elephant journal is equatable to the new yorker). otherwise it is bizarre. autodidacts needn’t hide it, and it ends up he does have some formal education in his “field” so the label doesn’t apply.

    • S.

      Gladwell is fun to read, but is pseudoscience nonsense at best. Remski is exhausting to read and is pseudo-truth at best. Gladwell also does not base his findings on revenge and hatred.

      • VQ2

        Maybe it’s a matter of tone and of politics. I don’t mind Remski’s tone; I can’t stand Gladwell’s right-of-center politics. Weak analogies are what they are. Pseudoscience or pseudo-truth, what’s the difference? Got a better analogy. Here, I think the shoe fits.

  • Dwayne

    OK, I’m trolling here, but for those who can’t get enough of Kaminoff, see this recent article:
    https://yogainternational.com/article/view/3-reasons-to-curb-corrections-in-yoga-class

  • JCseeking truth

    This may be an older and stale article but it is very well written and I appreciate the depth and stamina this teacher has had with herself and students. It touches on YTTs and training of those young minds being thrown into 200 hour programs that are churning out teachers that are young – very young – coming from a diluted world of what yoga is about and why it is taught. Why do older practiotmers and teachers quit? It’s artificial. There are expensive useless mentorships offered now after a students pays thousands of $$$ to be coached on how to nail a yoga audition. An audition is like the yoga version of American Idol. You are given 10 minutes to prove you are the kind of follower, teacher, performer and actor to bring in students. Then you are rejected by the panel of judges because you don’t fit a yoga collective mold. If you do, you are going to Hollywood. You get to be a teacher, start marketing and step into your power. You work towards the festival circuit and show people how hot you are and how great you follow the yoga brand rules. Teachers are younger. A dime a dozen. They WILL and ARE causing tons of injuries. They don’t know any better. The studios make their rules very strict and usually the leaders are failed actors and narcissists. This is common in big cities in studios. It is a Ponzi scheme to get more money into studios and blatantly lie about what community means and how everyone is welcomed. It is really not possible to find a teacher that can be trusted or a community that is no not judgmental in yoga. It is the saturation, the denial of a billion dollar industry, capitalism and yoga in these times. Matthew remski is out there doing his best to sell his book about being a yoga dad and knowing Ayurveda.. Personally I think he comes across as someone with autism or aspergers. This is not an insult – he is very intelligent. He is articulate and intimidating with his use of language – yet lonely and trying to make a living/struggling and probably doing his best to engage with the world. He is pretentious which makes him insecure and distracts himself by seeking likes, followers, validation, admiration – just like any social media junkie. I don’t blame him for making a living by being articulate and shedding light on shadows. I think we have to look at the yoga shift through a realistic lens. Yoga is bullshit. It’s money. It’s Jois using his power in inappropriate ways. There is no such thing as #bringbackyoga. It’s over, the gurus, the studios, the brands , the instagrams, the validation of selfies. It’s not real. No teacher can show you what yoga is unless you read it in your body and mind yourself. It’s all about you. Go away from the,Ponzi schemes where you will never see your money again. Go away from social media and how it sucks you in by tapping into your dopamine slot machine cerebral high. Close the computer. Go,outside. Move your own damn body. Embody what is true for you. It’s hard to hear it but after 20 years – not even knowing I was practicing at jivamukti during a time of guru bullshit in NYC, it’s everywhere now. My hope,is that some broken twenty somethings figure this out before it has mind fucked them too.

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