Wednesday, February 29, 2012

YogaGate

I like to think of myself as a yogi--a dedicated practitioner of yoga.   I've always resisted, however, the tendency towards guru worship that seems to prevail in the yoga world.  

It's just my personality to not put anyone too high on a pedestal or see them as somehow better than myself.  I know and have seen, however, many people do treat their spiritual leaders as somewhat mythological god-like beings (although it's not just confined to the world of yoga).

Yoga has been linked to sex scandals in the past, and now there's a new scandal lighting up the yoga blogs.   John Friend, the founder/creator of the Anusara yoga movement, it turns out, has been having sex with quite a few of his devotees.   This has led to other devotees (and probably some of the devotees he had the sex with as well) being somewhat let down.

Their guru, it turns out, was just a horny, middle-aged guy more than willing to take advantage of young, nubile, fawning yoginis. 

There's a lot of confusion as to whether yoga encourages sex or not.   Many non-practitioners have a somewhat Westernized-fantasy-skewed idea of what Tantric practices involve.    There seems to be this belief that yogis hold the secrets to mind-blowing, 12 hour long, continuously orgasmic sex sessions.

It's kind of like those creams and pills that promise to increase bust or penis size--if they actually worked we'd all be walking around with double D's and 12 inch long dongs. 

I don't know what other yogic traditions teach, but the Ashtanga tradition teaches that excess sex is a waste of prana (life force), that sex outside of marriage is wrong, and that sex should only be done on certain days times.  

Doesn't sound all that sexy now does it?   The first time I read these sexual teachings in Yoga Mala I couldn't help but think that it sounded pretty much like what the Nuns preached to me back at Our Lady of the Valley.

While Friend never preached abstinence or marital fidelity (at least he's not a hypocrite), other yoga gurus accused of sexual misconduct have.

So the question is, why does this happen?    Why do some women succumb to spiritual leaders, whether they be yogis, preachers, rabbis or priests?     Why is it that we put these people up on pedestals where they preach sexual restraint, then strive to climb up on those pedestals to have sex with them?

The Anasura community is in a turmoil right now over the John Friend scandals.   The question is, why is anyone surprised?

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