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Something Stinks At The Northwest Yoga Conference

in YD News

What’s going on? No, really, what is going on? Our email inbox and social media feed have been blowing up over the past 24 hours regarding a bizarre event that happened at the Northwest Yoga Conference going on this weekend. A video of Savitri Palkhivala, co-founder of Purna Yoga and the Alive and Shine Center operating in Seattle’s eastside since 1992, is seen giving a talk to a group of attendees when she is suddenly interrupted by conference founder and director Melissa Hagedorn and asked to leave.

“Something is seriously wrong,” says Palkhivala who understood she had 10 minutes to speak, but was cut short in the middle. According to her daughter, Zenia Lumeria, who posted the video publicly on Facebook, Savitri was there accepting an award for her husband “for being a respected yoga influencer” voted on by attendees, and was given an allotted time of 10 minutes to address the audience of yogis.

“Savitri and Aadil were to be both teaching at the Northwest Yoga Conference as well as paying for having a booth for their college and studio,” writes Lumeria, but they have since been kicked out and removed from the conference schedule as well.

A statement from Aadil Palkhivala via Lumeria:

“To make it clear, I was given the honor and 10 minutes to speak. I asked Savitri, meditation master and my wife, to accept the honor on my behalf and speak in my place as I had bronchitis and pneumonia and could not attend. She very graciously agreed. It was a blessing to the conference to have a true master of light in their presence. No, there was no time issue. Because she did not even get the time of 10 minutes allotted to me but, the event started on time and the previous person who was also honored, humble and precious Bob Smith, simply accepted the honor and did not speak which meant that they had 10 extra minutes. It is sad that someone who claims to do yoga cannot even recognize a living master of light.” – Aadil Palkhivala, co-owner of Alive & Shine Center and co-founder of Purna Yoga.

The conference, in its 7th year, prides itself on being an affordable and diverse event set on “cultivating a unified yoga community through learning, sharing, and growing together.” However, many are crying foul after experiencing this extremely awkward interaction in person, or watching the video online.

The reason for the strange snub remains unclear. In the age of social media and smart phones, conflicts like this are amplified, but they are not often provided with very much context.

For the few minutes we see Savitri speaking, she hones in on male and female energy coming together, with a focus on family, which she sees as a missing link in India’s yoga world and which she believes has gotten lost in the West. “Feminine energy was seen as second class” she says of her early journey into yoga with her husband in their native India. “A new vibration of yoga is unfolding in the West,” she says. “So happy to see so many women involved in yoga.”

These words seem hardly offensive, so it’s unlikely the content of the speech caused the problem. But moments later Melissa Hagedorn is seen getting up from her seat, approaching Savitri and asking her to leave. “They’ve not heard the whole side of the conversation…Please leave the room…I put a lot of time and energy into this event. You’re not being respectful,” Hagedorn can be heard saying.

The whole side of the conversation? Savitri expresses that “this” is the yoga she’s concerned about.

This, whatever it is exactly, is clearly very uncomfortable, and it’s causing some major drama online and at the conference. Many are seeing this confrontation as an example of disrespect to yoga’s history as well an indication of racism and censorship in the modern (Western) yoga world. Comments are being deleted from the Northwest Yoga Conference Instagram and Facebook page almost as quickly as they are being posted.

We’re not sure of the root to this altercation, but we know it stinks and that the yoga community deserves answers.

The Northwest Yoga Conference has been contacted for comment.

If you have any more information regarding this matter, you may email us at yd@yogadork.com.

Here is Zenia Lumeria’s post in full.

Update #1: Yoga teacher Amy Ippoliti, who taught at the conference, responded to inquiries and issued her own statement. In it, she explains that there will be an official statement from the Northwest Yoga Conference forthcoming.

Update #2: A petition was created in support of Savitri with an open letter to sponsors, teachers, studios, and leaders connected to the Northwest Yoga Conference.

Update #3: Several yoga teachers who taught at the conference have issued statements or responded to the incident via social media. One of the sponsors, Embla, said that “we do not condone this kind of behavior” in an Instagram post.


Update #4 (2/28/18): A statement has been issued regarding the incident via Founder Melissa Hagedorn in which she does not name Savitri but refers to her as “an individual” and addresses the public backlash. Here is the statement in its entirety.

Dear yogis,

I want to take a moment to address an incident that arose during opening ceremony at the Northwest Yoga Conference this past weekend.

An individual that was scheduled to receive an award at our opening ceremony informed us that they were not able to attend. They sent another individual in their place to accept the award on their behalf. Because there was another event in the room immediately after the opening ceremony, I wanted to ensure that the schedule was maintained. When the individual exceeded their time, I approached the individual to remind them of the time limit that had been communicated before the ceremony and, after their response, I retrieved the microphone. I regret I chose this action as the way to address the situation. This has been an immense learning and growth opportunity for me.

As I mentioned above, the reason I asked the individual to stop speaking was because she had exceeded the time that had been offered to her. There was no racial motivation. The nominee and their spouse have both been presenters at the conference for several years and the event continually hosts presenters of diverse ethnicity. I deeply regret that the issue of race has been falsely identified here as a motivation as it contributes to the undermining of validity for incidents that are truly racially motivated.

Though much of the information about the incident that has been circulated online is false and inaccurate, instead of focusing on the misrepresentations, I want to focus on how we can move forward as a community.

I hope that this incident provides the opportunity for the yoga community to engage in conversation about how we process and respond to these types of incidents that will inevitably arise. This incident has made me painfully aware of how deep the wounds of injustice and oppression are and how deep the need is for dialogue and learning about all of the ways this injustice occurs and how we as a community might address them. I am dedicated to working alongside the yoga community as well as my own trusted mentors and leaders in the community to help facilitate dialogue, action and change.

I encourage each and every one of you to be a willing participant of this dialogue and I hope that we may learn and grow together in a way that acknowledges our humanness. I hope that each participant will bring mindfulness into the way that they engage in this discussion and, in particular, apply these four yamas, or ethical guidelines, while doing so: ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing) and aparigraha (non-possessiveness). Please note, any comments on our social media forums that do not apply these principles will be removed. We encourage comments that aim to engage in open, honest, sincere and respectful dialogue.

I am grateful that in spite of the incident, our community gathering was able to continue forward and hold space for yogis to deepen their practice in a supportive and inclusive environment. We will continue to look for ways to hold space for dialogue, learning and growth.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Melissa Hagedorn
Northwest Yoga Conference Founder/Director

Update #5 (3/1/18): Savitri has responded to our request for comment about the incident and to the above statement from NWYC Founder Melissa Hagedorn. Read the full response here.

105 comments… add one
  • Srivani

    So glad you posted about this. Curious to know the “other side”, but the silence is not doing them any good. Savitri’s speech was so enlightening and empowering… I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to hear the rest. If she did go over allotted time (despite Aadil being told he would have 10 minutes), there was certainly many other ways to handle that.

  • Prema

    Ok. At the risk of being unpopular, I would like to take the road less traveled in viewing this scenario. Blindly, knowing nothing of this “master teacher” nor of this conference organizer, what strikes me is that regardless the reason for the rudeness to end the talk, even if it was from the lowest of instincts, the response from the “master teacher” was also not very masterly but quite ordinary. If we truly are in a place of seeking a higher path and an enlightened road, we have to delve into the deeper subject, how does a master respond to a snub? An insult? A disrespect? Is that not the only question? What others do is not as important as our reaction. As a wise master once said “the best reaction is no reaction”. Only an ego can interrupt a talk and exit someone for no reason and only an ego can react to it and fight against it. What would have been the great teaching and the true test would be for there to have been no conflict and no reaction from a master meditation teacher. The minute there is a defense there is an ego. The minute the master says “I’ve been holding the light for 30 years” in her defense of not being stopped…that is ego itself. So there is no right or wrong there is only perspective. To be above the organizer’s behaviour one would have exited with a smile. And pitied her for her smallness. That would have spoken volumes. TO ALL INVOLVED. The “scuffle” was from both ends. I’m sorry but if we truly are students of yoga we have to take a deeper look that is beyond appearances. Byron Katie, an accomplished enlightened world teacher and author says, “defense is the first act of war”. That might sound counterintuitive but….it has great wisdom. And as you can see, defending oneself against an insult or against a slight has caused a war! The higher ground would be to walk away with dignity and self-respect. Not seeking it from outside. Asking the audience…”what do you say?” trying to get them to intervene?. Can you imagine Echart Tolle arguing with someone about being cut off? The non reactionary mind has nothing to react against. The reason this all strikes me is because even in defense of this woman’s honor in being kicked off, the daughter’s post innumerable times mentions how she was allowed 10 minutes, she was told 10 minutes, she was promised ten minutes, her father was told 10 minutes…. I mean… really? It starts to feel as childish as the first act of stopping the talk. The FB post with the video is so long in praise of her years of being a Light and holding Love. Anytime anyone has to be defended to repeatedly…there is something going on that is out of alignment. A truly enlightened teacher or master meditation teacher….would never allow this to escalate to this. When one is wronged on hardly spends all the time defending themselves. That is…if we want to talk and speak to higher Truths. It makes me think… it’s a test, and the state of yoga on one side is just a reflection of the sate of yoga on the other side. Never defend yourself to the point of starting a war with someone over something. The high road was to walk away. That’s what a master teacher would do.

    • Prema’s comment is complete bullshit. She thinks a yoga master should take the high road in the face of harassment and racism. Smile, be a good yogi, and move along…

      Change doesn’t happen in this world by simply allowing injustice to occur. Gandhi was a pacifist, but he was very deliberate in his provocations. Krishna instructed Arjuna to stand and fight when it was his dharma to do so.

      Who better to stand up to negativity and aggression than someone who has spent years knowing themselves through meditation and yoga? If there was ever a time for yogis to be proactive in their world, then it is now.

      • Chad

        Agree 100%

        • Odessa Rae

          Absolutely 100 % agreed as well. Silence is consent. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King, Jr.

        • Odessa Rae

          Absolutely, agreed as well. Silence is consent. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King, Jr.

      • Zofia

        Beautifully put Johnny!

    • “Never defend yourself to the point of starting a war with someone over something. The high road was to walk away.”

      oh please. tell that to the Holocaust survivors.

      I noticed that except for the woman who yelled “take a vote” everyone else sat there meek and mild like the good little love and lighers they are. No one else said a word, at least on the video. They let it happen.

      • Edward Dickman

        Holocaust survivors? Wow…you REALLY need a level set.

      • Zofia

        Exactly Linda…what appears to be a small injustice can grow into a horrible injustice. I was not at this event but yes I feel the sting of collapsing when it was my turn to stand up. May we all know what it looks like to stand and have the courage to do so at each moment of our lives.

    • You are missing the point entirely. And speak from a place of privilege. I’m sorry, but please go and do some research about racism before you post your advice on spiritual by-pass.

      • To whom are you referring? Because if it’s to me about my comment, I just about blew my chai out my nose. Do “some research about racism”? OK, I will ask my Native American and Mexican relatives about that and get back to ya. 😀 But if it’s NOT directed to me, please enlighten me. No pun intended.

    • Prema…. Your comment is utter spiritual bypass bullshit and speaks to so many things that are wrong in the yoga and New Age communities.

    • himix

      Great reply. this is one useful text coming out of this incident.
      I felt the same way you did, but was unable to put it into such precise words. Thanks for the pearls.
      I kept reading and was surprised to see the replies; the energy of racism was soon to appear.
      I’m sad to see that most people can’t understand the concept of “Never defend yourself to the point of starting a war with someone over something”, even in a Yoga discussion group, this practice is questioned.
      Thanks to everyone for their points of view!

    • Kundan

      That’s ridiculous, Prema! What you’re teaching is docility, gaslighting and spiritual bypassing.
      Nope. Savitri did the right thing.
      And your view is not at all unpopular but actually quite common among “ultra spiritual” people as portrayed in JP Sears videos. So it’s not original at all.

    • This has been a problem of so called enlightened masters not exposesing a wrong doing which allows wrongdoings to continue. Priest and gurus and followers turning the other cheek when a disrespectful act is committed.This allows the shadow and ego to grow. I saw and knew many people who’s gurus and teachers did wrong doings and were never exposed.I see myself as a women, wife and mother. The way I was treated is not respectful to any human being. My normal reaction all my life is to walk away and let behavior like this continue in the name of peace. I later realized thru praying for healing was actually being a coward. It took immense strength and respect from within me to respond the way I did. I felt my love and responsibility for my students,daughter and husband ,who was being honered ,that made me speak up.Would I want my daughter to walk away from being disrespected ? My sister was murdered because of my whole family and community turned the other cheek trying to be good and kind when we were being disrespected by the person who eventually killed her.I feel all my years of deep healing gave me courage to be a true women. This would never happen to Eckart Tolle because he is a man and not Indian. We are not defending ourselves by mentioning the time allotted to talk but revealing the truth. Big difference. This issue is about human respect not whether I am a master . I am a person. Defense is not an act of war but act of self respect. I have been guided to treat small situations like big ones so we don’t need big events to learn from. This is a small situations that I could have walked away with a smile but a bigger act of disrespect is being revealed here. Disrespect to all my teachers, my husband but most of all to the sacred teachings of Yoga. I am so sorry I am not perfect in your eyes but you do not know what all I have seen and experienced in my life from the Yoga world in the east and west. You judging me without knowing me is unyogic. My prayer is we all respect one another not because we are masters of light but because we are all family here to treat one another with kindness. Speaking up to rude bullying behavior takes courage . This is so needed now in order for humanity to grow up and be responsible human beings. Yoga is all about respect . Respect is love in action. Yoga is the path of love/ Oneness. May you dear Prema awaken to the importance of speaking up when wrong behavior is acted upon another. This is the power of love .

      • I would be so thankful to talk with you Usha. You obviously have major judgements about Aadil and I. Let us heal how you see and feel about us. I am sorry I do not remember you but we are all from love and light and feels like healing is needed between us. Let it be inthis life instead of inthe future. Savitri8light@live.com. I pray we can find the love between us that the path of Yoga teaches. Looking forward to you contacting me. Thank you. Namaste.

  • Without hearing both sides of this “incident”, we are unwise to react. By that I mean, take sides. Something is definitely amiss in this, as it is in many of the responses our society is currently putting forth to controversies. Is this incident a reflection of attitudes around us? Are we as a yoga community following the behaviors we see in the dominant culture? Are we are tiring of our fight of the forces of negativity and reactivity without reason? The path of yoga suggests to each of us to look first into ourselves, then out into the world.

    • Wondering


      • Wondering if you could explain your preachy comment? Are you referring to my comment, the article or all the comments? Difficult to respond to you until I understand. Just like the incident itself.

    • yes, would like to hear more of the story. a strange reaction from the women who gave the award then told Savitri to get out! surreal!

    • Zofia

      Genevieve I have heard and read this argument of “both sides of the story” and would you please tell me in what situation it would be appropriate to treat someone the way Melissa treated Savitri?

  • Love this article! Really enlightening to the bigger problems!

  • Hi everyone. I was one of the presenters at the NW Yoga Conference yesterday (Sunday, Feb 25). I just wrote a blog called “Yoga Disunion at the NW Yoga Conference”. If interested, you can find it on my website, or this link

    • Thank you Roy. While I still don’t understand why what happened happened, your points are well taken. The yoga remains.

      • Thank you Genevieve. With the higher energy on Earth at this time, nothing remains hidden, so I trust that all will be revealed–or at least what needs to be known. Blessings to all involved.

        • Wondering

          Who decides what needs to be known?

          • Each individual. We each have an obligation( to ourselves) to explore the known and the unknown (paraphrasing the Buddha). Preachy?

          • Goats Milk

            You’re wondering too much, Wondering 😉

    • pal

      in the video savitri says “aadil was given ten minutes” then the mike is taken. yet, your blog says, “I am not taking sides, just sharing from my sight and heart. … Savitri argues back, and refuses to relinquish the microphone. She later claimed that she was allotted 10 minutes.” ..to then he talk about looking at our own ego and farts and stuff, i mean, yeah, obviously; your sight is “bad” and not “good” and all the bypassing engaged in your blog should be torn at relentlessly, hopefully, and by *you*.

      • pal

        (apologies for the extra “he” typo.)

    • himix

      Thank you for your blog! It shines more insight as to what caused this sad moment.
      But I agree with the rest; you are not telling us why Savitri was stopped and kicked out stand and staff included. Why the mystery; is it embarrassing?

    • Usha

      Thanks Roy. I’m glad you’re not jumping on the “racist!” bandwagon too. I appreciate your perspective. Having known Aadil and family, I’m nowhere near as generous. What I see is an off the charts ego basically rambling about nothing, but because she is so allegedly “important” as a “Master of Light” (Aadil’s words) we are supposed to think they mean more than they do. If some blonde lady in fabletics we’re to go up there and utter the exact same crap, and the mic was confiscated, there’d be the same ego bruised poutrage, but from a slightly different group of (equally entitled and self serving) folks.

    • Emma

      I got 3/4 of the way through your blog and couldn’t read any more. It is completely okay to stand up for injustice and to expect better of people. To have accountability for poor actions, your blog is complete spiritual by-passing and I’m so tired of seeing it in the yoga word.

  • Usha

    Gotta say, I very much agree with many (not all) of Prema’s points—particularly how deeply narcissistic Aadil and his family have always been. I have studied with Aadil, and I would never say that just because he has an ego the size of Jupiter means that he is worthless as a teacher, I definitely learned valuable things in my time with him, but it was after I went to study with him on his home turf, when I met his wife and was first hand how creepy his clan of sycophants are that I snapped out of the spell I was under, and woke up. Savitri’s speech was the most pathetically empty of generic yoga mumbo jumbo, and so full of the classist oppressive garbage that yoga has been used to perpetuate for the majority of its existence, at least on its home continent. (“Wake up, Indian women!” – give me a fucking break. Let’s strip you of your caste and the socioeconomic privilege that comes with it, and tear you from the coattails you ride on and drop you in an average slum of New Delhi and see wtf “wake up” is supposed to mean, you giant self obsessed windbag!)
    I’m sorry but I personally LOVED that Melissa snagged the mic right out of that cult leader’s hand and said “out you go!” I’m sure there will be punishment to endure because egos like that cannot handle that kind of assault to their narcissism without retaliation, but I hope there enough people who have cut the groupthink cord and give Melissa the respect she deserves for her courage. Savitri’s and Aadil’s response itself is SO telling.

    I realize we represent the minority opinion, but…deal with it, cult heads. These narcissists’ days are numbered.

    • I would be so thankful to talk with you Usha. You obviously have major judgements about Aadil and I. Let us heal how you see and feel about us. I am sorry I do not remember you but we are all from love and light and feels like healing is needed between us. Let it be inthis life instead of inthe future. Savitri8light@live.com. I pray we can find the love between us that the path of Yoga teaches. Looking forward to you contacting me. Thank you. Namaste.

  • If you go to the NW Yoga Conference website, under Blog, Melissa Hagedorn, the conference director, has issued a statement, basically saying that the speaker had gone over her allotted time. It’s a nice statement, but just a start, as there are still unanswered questions. I still hope for some sort of reconciliation process for healing. In the meantime, I feel it is important that we each–including myself–face, feel and clear our own “stuff” around this, and pray for or initiate healthy dialogue. Blessings to all involved.

    • pal

      it is not a nice statement, it is an evasive non-statement. the person to speak before savitri declined his 10 minutes, and the person following her went on for 15 minutes, 5 minutes over the 10 allotted minutes, and she was interrupted a few seconds shy of 5 minutes when she was expecting 10; time was not the issue. she does not explain why aadil palkhivala’s and savitri’s classes were cancelled and their booth removed, nor why she gave no reason for this, nor why she wouldn’t talk to him on the phone. she only regrets *how* she stopped savitri from speaking and that some think she had racist motives, not that vendors had their sales wrecked, nor that people who came specifically to attend aadil’s and savitri’s classes couldn’t, nor that they were given no reason why. this is not a start for anything let alone healthy dialogue, and no one needs to face their own biases when presented with lies.

  • As someone who is interested in the yoga community at large and who has been considering attending NW Yoga Conference in the future, I appreciate the response on the blog. Now, having the view from the organization, I feel as if the balance to this incident is restored. Thanks to all who shared their open and heartfelt experiences and opinions on what transpired. I feel like I have closure on this.

  • Hmm

    I do not think going over an allotment of time warrants the rude behavior witnessed in the video. It could have been handled in a more professional manner. The speaker’s response is to be expected in the face of such abrupt and hostile behavior. I do not know any of the people involved in the video (nor am I interested in any of their backstories or theories such as the one coming from Usha although I respect that Usha has her views). I do not think the problem was about the content of the speech as the organizer who invited the speaker must have vetted the speaker ahead of time. This is possibly a wrong assumption on my part.

    This was handled very poorly and indicates a lack of professionalism on the part of the individual who was taking the microphone. The lack of finesse, grace and expertise is glaring. It is more troubling that it is happening at a yoga conference as there is an expectation that the yoga philosophy would be integrated into the practical running of the conference including time management housekeeping tasks.

  • Roland


    Instersting…so are you equally uninterested in the Pakhilvala’s theories and backstories about it not being “real yoga” to not allow Savitri speak as long as she decides she wants at someone else’s event? Is it “real yoga” to accuse someone of racism when someone has simply finally had enough of your shit? Are you as uninterested in THAT backstory or theory? Or are you only uninterested in the backstories and theories that don’t support your hate and judgements that are somehow supposed to be oh-so-yogic?

    This response has been so disturbing. I have never studied in depth with Aadil, and have never met his wife, but I have worked in multiple studios over the years and have hear stories about what a narcissistic nightmare he is to deal with. What I see in the video that you all have such a bizarre lust to attack is, someone has had enough. She lost her patience. The people who believe the Pakhilvalas can do no wrong are showing their true colors in all this, and I find it sickening.

    And ultimately people, I personally don’t expect much from some random lady who organizes a yoga conference. She is not an untouchable – expected to serve endlessly and ignore all assaults and insults to her own ego. That is how this family and their minions are treating her, and it’s disgusting. Aren’t we supppsed to expect better behavior from folks who claim to be MASTERS? Give me a break! Shouldn’t a MASTER be able to deal with being given 2 mins to speak, even if she wanted 10? Even if she decided for whatever reason she DESERVES 10? (Because MASTERS deserve 10 mins right???)

    This whole thing is so disappointing. The yoga community, or certain pockets of it, are proving themselves to be petty, and willing to even stoop to anything to protect the fragile egos of their gurus. Ick

    • pal

      we all want to know the backstory, really that’s the point- nwyc has refused to say anything about anything, and phillip-hagedorn’s blog about it simply regrets how she kicked savitri out, and that she was called racist; she has failed to explain her actions for almost a week now, and we know time was not an issue because the person who received an award before savitri declined his 10 minutes (as palkhivala’s letter explained), while the person speaking after her spoke for 15 minutes, 5 mins over the 10 allotted (according to those who stayed). as to the rumor being spread that savitri was to have only 2 minutes, it is just that, a rumor; i have heard other aspects to this but they are speculation and gossip right now, while all responsibility and responce is nwyc’s, not us internet randos’ nor savitri’s nor aadil’s.

  • Kam

    The most compelling and insightful thing I’ve seen written about this whole thing is:

    “Who cares get over yourselves.”

  • ???


    If the speaker is known to be problematic, isn’t it problematic to invite them to speak at a conference in the first place? If the speaker goes over the allotted time and is asked in a clumsy way to wrap up the talk, then why is the speaker asked to leave the entire conference and shut down their booth?

    Do you realize that this video has gone ‘viral’ and not everybody who is viewing this knows the speaker or the hosts of the event? Is that plausible to you? All they see is somebody who is either has or has not gone over the time frame being thrown off stage, which typically does not happen when somebody speaks too long in a public speaking venue. That can happen even with the best of preparation. Normally when somebody speaking begins to get cues that they need to wrap things up, the person usually will do so.

    Clearly by the responses here, there is so much more going on. The bigger question is what and why and what needs to be done to improve things?

    • Ron

      The speaker was not invited to speak, her hubby was.

      Are you genuinely uninformed about that detail, or are you just very addicted to the outrage, like all others beating this very dead dog to a pulp?

  • SMH

    Yoga has jumped the shark.

  • Poutrage portage

    Get over yourselves indeed.

    This is why, despite doing thousands of hours of training in yoga and yoga related education, I do not want to be associated with it. I cannot bring myself to call myself a ‘yoga teacher’ because I don’t want to be mistaken for one of these sad petty, minds. If I’d have to choose a side between Aadil and his minions, and THAT lady?
    My answer is NO THANKS

    • DL

      P. Portage: Bulls eye! Yoga is so over-marketed. Like you, I’m also not so quick to describe myself as a “yoga teacher” and am moving onto another career path.

    • Dwayne

      Good point. I can’t see any reason to pay attention to this incident. The yoga industry once more giving a terrible account of itself. Yawn.

  • sarah

    Hey Yogadork — thanks for posting this important piece. Can you moderate your comments section a little though? It is really swampy down here and it’s unbecoming to the yoga world.

  • Are yoga industry stalwarts good for anything other than cheap laughs these days? Apparently not!

  • Blythe

    Sarah, “unbecoming of the yoga world”?!?! Hahahaha
    God I hope you’re joking. If you were, good one!

  • Peter

    Upon watching the video I could not help but utter a battle cry. My eyes burned with tears, from the bottom of my heart. NOOOOOOOO

  • BlueFlameLotus

    Wow. I had to drop into the whole story a little more. I watched the video, read the commentary and all the responses.

    To me it seems there is obvious back story. The purna school must have something going on with it that the host lost face and had to interject so forcefully. Something that deeply triggers her personally.

    As an event producer myself, I can see the pressures she’s operating under, not knowing fully her motivation, but obviously something is going on that she has to navigate swiftly. I do not agree with how she handled it. Very abrupt, forceful, controlling. Not graceful at all. Then passing it off to bewildered Christopher to deal with. The poor guy didn’t know what to do.

    She was clearly triggered by where the conversation was going and the speaker and her seemed to have a prior agreement that seemed to be violated. For whatever reason. Seems like there was zero tolerance.

    I like what the speaker was talking about. It was important information. I’m making a grand assumption that this may have something to do with cults. It’s just a thought to the back story.

    Myself, having been accused of creating a cult because I spoke of light and generating light, built entire rituals and ecstatic events around this generating frequency. There ensued a bit of a fanatical following for sure. Some people gravely missed the point. It became a tricky thing to navigate for many years.

    I can understand some people are very easily triggered by seeming cult creation. Who knows what this woman’s own trauma story is that she would fall out of grace so quickly to protect her event.

    I feel for both of them. Oddly even more for the host. The self proclaimed ‘master of light’ can handle this, when she puts her teachings into practice and continues to stand humbly in her truth. The host has to suffer the consequences and ridicule of her poor actions. Even her follow up was seemingly shallow and constricted. For us onlookers, lacking the authentic depth to balance the picture. Which will have even more backlash.

    Whatever is happening, especially the dialogue being generated and the egocentric trigger happy mud flinging occurring. Conscious yoga community or not. We’re human and fallible. It’s all really worthy of reflecting on.

  • BlueFlameLotus

    For me, with any story, when we’re only privy to small windows of information, it’s easy to get caught up in emotion, to take sides and condemn. This prompts me to reach in for even more compassion for all concerned, myself included.

  • Paul

    I watched a rather long video where Melissa speaks in depth about her experiences managing OCD. Maybe knowing that she suffers from this condition gave me a much better understanding of the “graceless” way she responded to being triggered. Whether it was the content of the talk, or the fact that the speaker went over the time she was offered to speak, it’s obvious she was feeling a ton of urgency about something, and wanted the talk to end IMMEDIATELY.

    The most disturbing disappointing and discouraging thing about this whole thing for me has been the response by the yoga minions and students. The way they have so eagerly posted reposted a terrible moment and encouraged all kinds of condemnation on this woman, particularly the way they have tried to make this about race and appropriation. It’s very telling to me about the general lack of awareness, compassion for human infallibility, and understanding of what appropriation even is.

    • What is Yoga

      The second paragraph says a lot. There isn’t much difference in how the community responded to this than what you see out in mainstream media, politics, entertainment…. we are all still reactionary beings that somehow think there is a right and wrong that needs fighting for and it’s usually just our own perception being magnified. So little true observation wisdom from a point of the eternal witness and so much mud slinging like children.Yoga is not yoga in the West. It is just another platform for playing out ego in a new way.

    • pal

      how does ocd explain, coming on two weeks later, why there still no explanation of their being kicked out of the awards event, and the entire conference they had been involved with since its beginning?

      • Paul

        pal, your comments and questions reveal a kind of idiocy that I make a point to stay clear from. Clearly your only purpose in all of this is to demonize and condemn, which is exactly what many of the more enlightened minds are finding so ironic and troubling coming from the self proclaimed “masters” and their rather dim witted minions.

        • I see

          The level of hypocrisy in this thread is outstanding! Bravo! 2018 has proven that we are all trolls!

        • pal

          your “enlightened minds” ought to be able to explain why there is no explanation from nwyc, rather than continuing to attempt to excuse the incompetence and abuse of this (incompetent and abusive) business, before calling out “dim witted minions”.

          • Paul

            All you’d do with an explanation is shred it so that you can continue to poutrage your way to “real yoga.” You’ve proven that. Now go grovel at the feet of your “masters” or go home.

  • It cracks me up that people care about this garbage. There aren’t any yogis in that room. Let the frauds screech at each other all they want.

    • What is Yoga

      True that!!!

    • Human

      The truth is that the term ‘yogi’ is simply an ego ornament. In essence it is unobtainable. Therefore, the room was full of human beings.

      • What is Yoga

        It certainly is attainable. Plenty of Yogis in the world only mostly they are not in hotel ballrooms with paid for classes. Those that find themselves letting go of everything and at the feet of living enlightened Masters, which is karmic not something to be bought from a conference schedule, and happens if you are very very lucky. Most true Masters don’t charge a thing. Those are the kind you find only if you are karmically destined.

        • Human

          What is the difference between a ‘yogi’ and a human being?

          • What is Yoga

            What is the difference between a “yogi” and a human being?…. What is the difference between a Shih Tzu and a dog?
            Donald Trump is a human being. Paramahansa Yoganandya is a Yogi. As one example. The former, sees acquisition of material possessions, power and wealth as the goal of life, whereas the latter touched a Reality that has Love as it’s basis and the goal of life. The former has pushed for power through personal gain, the latter has achieved power and notoriety through selflessness. It’s not possible to touch the flame of Love within our own hearts and live with the projection of fear. All those that gave their lives to uplift humanity had Love as their basis, which dispelled fear for their own personal safety and were seen as making the ultimate sacrifice, usually their mortal lives, MLK Jr., Gandhi, Jesus…. Those that realized that the human potential that is human being is to rise above the conditions of the conditioned mind, could be given the label we call “Yogi”. Those that seek to have self gain could be called human being thus the world rages in many wars and destroys the planet. However, it is just a label. And they themselves would hardly use ‘Yogi” as identification of themselves. Wrong identification is the source of all suffering. Thus the world suffers as it identifies with it’s animal instincts and pursues the pleasures and gains of the senses. While those that could be called Realized “Yogis”, don’t suffer, they identify with Love as their Source and thus make a mark in the world by their pointing to a different way. “With Love, Man is God”. The ultimate realization of our innate nature, is the goal, or hunger of the Yogi. Once it touches that reality it cannot ever go back to total ignorance. Those that are blinded to that Reality are normal human beings that are shrouded in darkness. And thus the outer reflection of that darkness in the collective experience we call life on the planet.

    • Dwayne

      Sho’ nuff. I happily know nothing about the two/three principals involved, but my two unfailing gut reactions to self-proclaimed “masters” (“of light”?) and self-bestowed honorific titles are (a) run away!; (b) laughter. I can understand the principals screeching at each other, since they have some skin in the game ($ of course), but not the peculiar interest shown by uninvolved parties. Well, OK, some people dig watching dumpster fires and train wrecks.

  • Tom

    Can someone please post the basics behind the arguments? Am genuinely curious to hear what caused this . thanks

    • pal

      so far there is no explanation. the context outside the video is that savitri was accepting an award for her husband aadil palkhivala, who was given 10 minutes to speak. nwyc says she had exceeded her time at 5 minutes, she says she wasn’t told she was given less than 10 minutes. the prior award-recipient declined to speak, while the following one spoke for 15 minutes, and both were given 10 minutes.

      they were the only indians presenting, so whether that was a motivation or not there is a racial dimension.

      nwyc still has not explained why their classes were cancelled (aadil had 5, savitri 1), nor why the booth they paid $500 for was removed; it hasn’t even acknowledged these happened.

  • Tom

    Oh, OK. Based on many of these postings ranging from accusations of racism to cult behavior I assumed everyone knew what was going on.

    • himix

      Tom, I don’t think nobody knows the facts or the reasons behind this notorious incident.
      Some people are even suggesting that facts are not important as they would only lead to more finger pointing.
      I believe facts are important, and am very uncomfortable with all this need to know basis.

  • Lu

    There IS an explanation—it just doesn’t satisfy the sycophants because NOTHING will satisfy the sycophants. What Melissa did was pure blasphemy to them, because that’s how the Masters program them. They’re sitting back enjoying the view while these idiots soldier on with their keyboard battle cries. YAWN

    She apologized.
    Sycophants: “she didn’t even apologize!!!”
    She offered the reason
    Sycophants: “she didn’t even offer a reason!”
    She has been in contact with the Pakhilvala family to work this out
    Sycophants: “she hasn’t even contacted them!”

    There is no righting this to folks who thrive on the condemnation of something that was pretty much sacrilege. (Even her phrasing – using the word ‘individual’ was cause for poutrage, when the use of that word was perfect for so many reasons.)

    This is something that has highlighted the darkest, ugliest aspects of yoga and the cultish behaviors it fosters. That’s what’s going on.

    • No right or wrong

      Poutrage is not inherently wrong. People have the right to feel what they feel. You are no different than they are. Let go of the ‘holier than thou’ attitude, or not; make it a great day or not the choice is always yours!

  • Lu

    Who has the holier than thou attitude? Of course not the poutragers! No way

    No right and wrong, huh? If you want to live your life with no moral compass: Exactly no one is stopping you. Don’t expect others’ discernment to disappear just because you don’t know where yours is.

    • No right or wrong

      So you demonize the poutragers for demonizing Melissa. Apparently Melissa can do no wrong? Clearly she does not deserve to face the karma behind her action… And you have obviously taken the moral high ground! God bless you. Namaste!

      • Lu

        You obviously don’t know the definitions of ‘apparently’ OR ‘obviously ‘ – or else have a major issue with reading your own assumptions into what other folks don’t say.. good luck with that! Namaste indeed

        • Please People

          Uh, they might not know the definition of the word ‘karma’ either. It isn’t a substitute word for ‘punishment ‘ as most people who haven’t bothered to de-Judeo -Christianize their yoga. Aadil isn’t the brown substitute for the guy with the white beard in the sky throwing cruelty at folks for disobeying or disrespecting him. The fact that you even went there is very interesting. But “no right and wrong” ? If that doesn’t reek of spiritual bypassing I don’t know what does.

        • No right or wrong

          Keep giving us a taste of our own medicine. Two wrongs make a right by your logic. But you are on the winning team, are you not?

          • Samiskara

            What are you even talking about? You are the one preoccupied with right and wrong. Why did you namaste yrself outta here then come back to again accuse someone of saying things they never said??? Just because people are criticizing certain aspects of yoga culture doesn’t mean they are on the director’s “side.” How is that so hard to comprehend?

  • Sierra Hagberg

    The answer is Sharia Law. The west needs it.

  • himix

    Thank you all for the great buzz phrases!

    • Dwayne

      If not for mindless repetition of tired yoga buzz phrases*, comments on this blog would be as scarce as hen’s teeth!

      *OK, not counting the spambots.

  • Poe

    I love how she posts the exact same comment word for word, under a more brown sounding name to seem more like “real yoga” and less like the shame based silencing antic that it is.

    This IS the yoga world, snowflake. Deal with it.

    • sarah

      hey troll,
      I definitely didn’t post that comment a second time but it’s wild that I’m coming back to see if there’s more info (there isn’t) and someone has reposted it under a different name.
      I assume it was you, trollin’. quit calling people snowflake. troll somewhere else. go away. Since Yogadork won’t moderate, I won’t be coming back, though.

      • YD

        Sarah, apologies for the troll situation. We don’t have a policy to police comments but that double comment clearly stolen from you and reposted under another name has been removed, and we’ll be doing some more cleaning.

  • Sierra Hagberg

    White women have twisted yoga. They need Sharia Law.

    • Kula

      ^ yawn

      The war on white women already peaked last year. Try again if ya want to incite something, bud.

  • himix

    Receive offense with forgiveness on hand…

    … but if you don’t want to be offended, forgive beforehand.


  • Zofia,
    I have been out of this “Conversation” for awhile as both sides have had time to relate their version. As I said, I am satisfied to see this. Thank you for being interested in my opinion.

  • As someone who is interested in the yoga community at large and who has been considering attending NW Yoga Conference in the future, I appreciate the response on the blog. Now, having the view from the organization, I feel as if the balance to this incident is restored. Thanks to all who shared their open and heartfelt experiences and opinions on what transpired. I feel like I have closure on this.

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  • Thank you all for the great buzz phrases!

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  • Josh

    I agree to some extent on what Prema has written. That was the whole thing coming to my mind when i was watching that video and then reading and seeing backlash from Savitris side

    I agree, Melissa could have handled this much better. I think Savitri did the right think by questioning and clarifying the time limit when Melissa confronted her. But I think, her then going on about her shining light for 30 yrs and becoming confrontational, follow up responses from Aadil on her being the “master” and continued reposting of the video from Savitris daughter sheds nuanced light on the characters of this family of ‘masters’. IMO a true master does not concern themselves of such behavior and go to the extent of defending themselves and retaliating to the degree that Alive and Shine founders did. That was ego at play and just shows human’s fallibility which even gets the better of any “master”

  • Wilberforce McDermott

    Ha ha little snowflakes, I love watching the circular firing squads of the Loony Left. Ommmm!

  • This is really bizarre!

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