Yoga Students Unite Against Sexually Abusive “Gurus”
In response to recent sex scandal allegations about yoga gurus John Friend, Kausthub Desikachar (son of yoga master TKV Desikachar), and Bikram Choudhury (one of the most publicized teachers of modern time), a purple-bracelet wearing clan of yoga students have stepped up to make yoga safe for everyone again. Their moniker? “I Am My Own Guru.”
Sex scandals are nothing new in the yoga world. Historically, many devotees have made excuses for womanizers and even abusive leaders within their communities to the extent that many go on teaching despite legal action and clear misconduct.
Absolute Yoga Academy founder, Lucas Rockwood, hopes to change all that by uniting his student and colleagues in an effort to not only stop the abuse, but to stop the blind-faith guru system all together. Rockwood says:
“There are no ethics committees or watchdog groups for yoga students, and yet teachers with huge power and influence are clearly taking advantage, and in some cases, even assaulting their students who came to class to get fit or relieve stress.
Yoga is not a religion, it’s a practice. We don’t need gurus, we need good teachers who we can trust to be safe and responsible. ‘I Am My Own Guru’ is about giving the power back to the students, and taking action against abusers when the writing is so clearly on the wall.”
According to Rockwood, I Am My Own Guru is a statement, a movement, and a complete paradigm shift away from the broken (and dangerous) model of guru/disciple group think, toward a much healthier and empowered system where individuals are respected, honored, and above all, always feel safe in what should be the safest of safe places—their yoga studio.
For such a lofty ambition, you’d think Rockwood would have a team of lawyers and a media team. Instead, he’s got a boatload of purple bracelets. Rockwood is currently manufacturing bracelets embossed with his now-viral catch phrase: “I Am My Own Guru”
In a not-for-profit venture, Rockwood’s company, Absolute Yoga Academy, is paying for the bracelets and shipping, while students donate $5 per bracelet that goes directly to a grassroots yoga charity (not affiliated to Rockwood or his company).
When you wear your I Am My Own Guru bracelet, it’s meant to symbolize that you’re strong, and self-empowered. It says that you’ve come to yoga class to take care of your body and mind—not to get ogled, groped or assaulted.
Can a purple bracelet really change yoga? Only time will tell.