Dear JSY Teachers and students.
Any abuse is unacceptable,
and I in no way condone this as part of our yoga practices
Reasserting our Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Values
This is a difficult time for us as Yoga teachers. The values of respect and regard for each other, and from our students, are questioned when one of our community errs, and when others are hurt by this. This is particularly so, when it has now become evident that students suffered sexual abuse by K Pattabhi Jois.
I want to reassert the importance of the values in our teaching which place absolute regard for our students, and those trusting us as teachers. Fundamental to this is our respect for the trust our students have in us as teachers of Astanga Vinyasa Yoga, which can never be disregarded.
As teachers, we guide, develop and must have respect for each students’ development and their progress toward understanding themselves through Yoga, and reclaiming authority over themselves – their own body, breath, mind and life. This is Adhikara, reclaiming one’s own Purusha.
Our positions as teachers give us particular responsibility for respecting and regarding for our students, providing them with support to test and extend their boundaries, and them being able to trust our professional expertise and assistance. There is no place in our practice and our yoga community for misuse of the trust placed in us. It is vitally important that all yoga students feel secure and safe in their yoga shala and that the teacher invites the voices of the students.
There is, however, a place for reassessing our own practices to ensure they are always professional, and for confirming best teaching practices.
My Own Yoga Development
On a personal level, my development under K Pattabhi Jois at Mysore, was one that extended me, and through which I learned a great deal. Perhaps, naively, I was never aware of any abuse. My initial reaction when this came to light was shock and wanting to disbelieve, as this was the man from whom I had learned so much. I am shocked and saddened that my experience, was not the experience of all his students, and that the man I learned from was also an abuser, that there was a dark side to the man that I never saw. I am sorry for those who were victimised and can only wish that it had never happened.
Physical Adjustments as Part of Our Practice.
Physical adjustments are an intrinsic part of AVY to enable progress of our students. These always need to be within the boundaries of regard for our students, without being invasive. Students need to be informed of their purpose and be comfortable with adjustments with their approval, and also to be equally comfortable with saying no. Intentions of adjustments need to be absolutely clear and to be checked and agreed with students. As in the Sahanavavatu Teacher / Student Chant, space must be held for the student’s voice to be heard to avoid Confusion Discontent, Disharmony and Trauma.
Television Interview in Chile
Those of you who know me well, will know that I am reluctant to seek publicity, and use social media. I agreed to an interview in Santiago Chile to talk about 30 years of my experience with Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. It was not my intention to talk about the abuse by K Pattabhi Jois, as any abuse is unacceptable, and I in no way condone this as part of our yoga practices. I had explained this to the interviewer. I am sorry that my response did not assert our absolute and professional position on ensuring that students are safe in all our classes.
Our Continuing Development
I believe if we continue our personal self-practice of asana and meditation, and practice the principles of yoga, we have the potential to find balance, healing, peace and harmony. Review of our professional practices, and regard for safety of our students is an intrinsic part of our teaching practice.
Namaste John Scott