Here is the email from KHYF dated February 1, 2018 and our comments:
“Women have a special right to practice Yoga,” proclaimed our ancestor the great Yogi Nathamuni. Consistent with this message he dedicated an entire section in his text, the Yoga Rahasya, on the topic of yoga for women and especially highlighted the role of practice during pregnancy.
The Viniyoga® tradition has always been a pioneer in opening the doors of Yoga beyond any gender discrimination. Our founder Acarya T. Krishnamacharya went against the tradition of his time and taught Yoga to women, including his wife, his daughters and the renowned Indra Devi, among other students. This was revolutionary in the 1930’s, a time when most Yoga practitioners were men.
His son and successor, Sri TKV Desikachar, was no different. He respected and acknowledged the immense role women played in society and encouraged them to empower themselves in their own path of self-discovery and expansion. Many of Sri TKV Desikachar’s students were women and they became important messengers of the Viniyoga tradition worldwide.
At the Krishnamacharya Healing & Yoga Foundation, the umbrella organization that represents the Viniyoga® tradition worldwide, founded by Sir TKV Desikachar, we continue to promote these principles.”
The issue is not Krishnamacharya or TKV Desikachar’s respect for women, but Kausthub Desikachar’s behavior with women. When Kausthub was accused of abusing women students, he had the same father and grandfather and was in a position of power at that time using his “lineage” just as he is doing so again now. In fact, the use of the name and reputation of Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar, just like in this email, is what seems to have enabled his reported misconduct.
“Our staff is comprised primarily of women and our spiritual Head is none other than Mrs. Menaka Desikachar, currently the senior most teacher of our tradition, a woman of natural authority and dynamism, a role model and inspiration for so many students and Yoga practitioners worldwide. The KHYF under her mentoring is a safe sanctuary for women to come, learn, practice and evolve into their best potential.”
Menaka Desikachar’s role in SKY, KHYF, and the events surrounding 2012 and the following possible cover up are not clear. Regardless, it is difficult to see how she can be a guardian for women in the organization if her own son is the abuser.
“Here are some FACTS from the year 2017 concerning women in our organization
75% of KHYF’s teachers comprise women
80% of KHYF’s staff comprise women
92% of KHYF Yoga Therapy Belgium batch comprise women students
92% of KHYF Yoga Therapy India Batch comprise women students
96% of KHYF Yoga Therapy China Group in India comprise women students
90% of KHYF Yoga Therapy China Batch in China are women students
68% of KHYF Yoga Teacher Training Batch in India are women students
86% of KHYF Vedic Chant Training Batch in India comprise women students
88% of KHYF’s retreats in India comprise women students
63% of KHYF’s One to One Therapy classes comprise women students
Even as you read this newsletter,
86% of our current two-week Mahamudra retreat in 2018 also comprise women.”
Pure misdirection. The majority of yoga students in yoga schools are women, around the world now. It is likely that the percentages were similar when abuses were reported.
So what does this “prove?” That the same opportunities and circumstances continue?
“Under the guidance of Mrs. Menaka Desikachar and KHYF’s International Council of Patrons, Dr. Kausthub Desikachar, the current lineage holder of the Viniyoga® tradition worldwide, continues to guide and help women evolve in their spiritual journey in a sanctum of peace and strength.”
Kausthub Desikachar’s repeated claim to represent Viniyoga worldwide: Does “worldwide” not include the USA with all its teachers? We suppose respected senior teachers like Gary Kraftsow (www.viniyoga.com) do not represent Viniyoga any more, now that Kausthub is the sole representative.
As to Kausthub Desikachar guiding and helping women spiritually, we find this direction both alarming and absurd. Kausthub’s “spiritual” and mystic teachings featured prominently in much of the abuse he was accused of. Are we supposed to find this statement by his organization reassuring and trustworthy?
We ask, why would any yoga school try so hard to justify that it is safe for women? They doth protest too much, methinks. If you ask us, this email appears like a response from an organization scrambling to protect Kausthub Desikachar.
Without actually addressing any of the issues.