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Re: The downside of yoga
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 11, 2012 10:37PM

Fashion Victim Yoga - Yoga Dork Coverage ( If that *is* the right word? ) of Lululemon


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Re: The downside of yoga
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 11, 2012 11:08PM

Yet more. Find out where your yoga teachers studied earlier in their careers. If they were involved with Gurumayi or Muktananda and are not 1) up front about this and 2) honestly and fully described the abuses of power and that they renounce that and more, be cautious. If they try to hide their past affilitions with Muktananda or Gurumayi or rationalize the abuses of money sex and power .. you have a decision to make.

A discussion of the Anusara Yoga leader, John Friend.

As quoted by the Rituals of Disenchantment blog, written by and for persons recovering from Muktananda and his sucessor Gurumayi

[quoted from Rituals of Disenchantment]I'm reproducing the New York Times article in this post below, as it details Baba Muktananda's sexual scandals as evidence of the prevalence of this kind of abuse by gurus and yogic teachers. Friend is not the first Siddha Yoga affiliated figure to follow Baba's lead, of course, we first had to suffer through the extremely oily dealings of George Afif, and subsequently, Ram Butler.


Here are comments from this article that discuss both John Friend and Gurumayi who disappeared from public view in 2007.

Gurumayi's ashram, though unnamed, was quickly ID'd as the one Elizabeth Gilbert stays in during her odyssey in Eat Pray Love, discussed here.


Of the powerful forms of trance induction used by both Muktananda and Gurumayi, there are discussions here. This is important, because so many who have left SYDA and Siddha Yoga often blame themselves for continuing to yearn for it, despite knowing fully that that they were better off after leaving. Until the use of covert trance induction technology by both Muktananda and Gurumayi is researched, the lingering impact on oneself cannot be fully appreciated for what it is. These gurus were using a modern technology hidden behind the trappings of ancient Hindu guru theatre.

People in SY were not messed up by only bad guru yoga. THey were also poisoned by the worst of modern American social engineering/trance technology and were not told by Muktananda or Gurumayi that this was being slipped into theirbeloved SY masala chai and the much appreciated special porridge. There is evidence from multiple sources and it can be read here.


More here:


And I mention the food nostalgia for a reason. On Marta Szabo's blog, The Guru Looked Good here was once a very promising discussion of the structural mindfucks utlized by Gurumayi and her organization.

In the midst of this discussion, a former devotee jumped in with a seeminly irrelevant story about the food at the ashram.

Instantly, discussion was jettisoned. Instead, in the blink of an eye, the discussants went nostaligic and began doting on their favorite items of ashram food. The discussion of this very important topic of trance technology was abandoned.

It was a brilliant and clever disruption of an insightful discussion. Sadly, its no longer available on Marta's blog as she rightfully converted it into a book.

But it shows how devilishly clever some former SY devotees are with judo throwing discussions using verbal trickery. Some have gone on to become employed by other gurus.

Comments from the current Rituals of Disillusionment article


Anonymous said...
Part of what this provokes for me by all this is yet another stark reminder of what a different media world we live in now, vs. 1994 when the Lis Harris New Yorker article hit. Today vs. the pre-web world.

The day after someone emailed me last week’s NYT article, I googled John Friend and discovered that the NYT piece was in fact more of a sidebar on a story that had been brewing for some time and broken first on an anonymous, yoga-world “wikileaks” type of site, then the yogadork blog, then the Huffington Post. Pieces of the story, and their ensuing comments, are now scattered in a broken strands across the blogshpere, including of course here at RoD.

Point being that in 1994 this type of depth-charge could still, to some extent, be contained. Back then you could still burn copies of magazines. Futile as such attempts may have ultimately been they still speak to a time when a "destroy the evidence" mentality existed. Today we have the Internet, we live in the age of foreverism.

Why do I get the feeling as I read these latest headlines on Friend & Co. that someone is sitting around in Fallsburg feeling validated? Thinking to themselves: Ha. See? It was so good we pulled out when we did, before this kind of blow up was possible. Just speculation or maybe a weird trick of timing, but it has always struck me as ironic that SY got outta the game just before the age of social media and hand-held everything hit, an age in which, had they hung on, they would have been brought down hard and swift – just as Friend was last month. For him, in a matter of days, it was all over but the ramifications of the New Yorker article came in waves, rippling out over many years. In some cases that article was the deal breaker for devotees who didn’t discover it until over a decade after it had been published. SY has died an excrutiateling slow death but the day is coming soon, and perhaps already has for many of us, when SY will finally be dead more years than it was alive.

In 1994, we didn’t yet live in a virtual/viral world and as a result SY survived, with many of us entrenched in it, a good decade + + longer than it ever should have. By contrast here we are now, in 2012, where in one fell swoop Anusara got turned on its head and had all the fool’s gold dumped from its pockets.

Also feeling/thinking about the difference between now and 1994, in terms of the impact on the two communities – SY and AS.

Is disenchantment and dissolution all relative?

Are there people in the Anusara community careening down from their mountain poses over this news, devastated? Or is it less of a blow because Friend was not “a guru” and didn’t hold their salvation in his hands?

Regardless, it’s never a welcome discovery that what you believe, or were led to believe, about someone you hold in high regard, is in fact the complete opposite of reality.

March 5, 2012 11:23 PM
Anonymous said...
Hi Birch,

GM was in Fallsburg last August for a gathering to celebrate BB. A link to pictures of the celebration was emailed to those still on the mailing list and also posted up at the website, though only for a few days. GM could be seen in those pictures, at what looked like a fairly small gathering of people frozen in time.

I believe several comments were made here at RoD about those pictures that could be easily found if you look at the posts around mid-August 2011.

Thank you for posing the question about her whereabouts, it was after all the question that original prompted this blog, and seeing it today makes me realize the answer truly does not matter to me anymore. I couldn't have said that a few years ago. It comes without effort now. Finally.

Also, as it relates back to Friend, really grateful to no longer be in the kind of situation that would leave me vulnerable and reeling from such a thing. Hopefully, as everything is moving so much faster, any impact from this blow will be a short sharp pain that doesn't drag on the way the end of SY did for so many of us . . .

Best to you and all.

March 5, 2012 11:40 PM
Anonymous said...
Muk + Nit + Afif + Butler + Friend.

The unbroken lineage continues.

March 6, 2012 2:41 PM
Anonymous said...
Part II

Appearing on John Friend's stage, we can see many of the same characters that we knew from SY. Sally Kempton is one of the teachers he would recommend and quote. Douglas Brooks is a close friend of Friend's. Many of the AS students mention Brooks as their teacher for sanskrit scriptures of sorts. Another relationship of shared benefit... since they met Brooks through Friend's referral. In this article here, you can read Brooks' argument for Friend to completely leave Anusara behind. []

It is curious to see his role in all of these debates... He seems to have reformed himself and talks quite a bit against the dangerous role of the guru which is inherently prone to abuse. But nowhere does he mention his own personal history with such a guru, including his lying on behalf of SYDA, defending the "edited" Meditation Revolution tome! I have not found any clear statement of his, on his facebook page or website, renouncing SY. He just mentions his new teacher left and right, who seems to be a somewhat obscure unknown Indian teacher, made known in the West mostly by Brooks himself, as far as I can tell.

There are also many hopeful voices - stating that this is a great time for yoga, since everyone is doing quite a bit of self-inquiry right now. People are looking into the deep issues of why John Friend got away with his power trips for so many years. Why did the senior teachers not stand up sooner? Those who tried, like Doug Keller (whom some of you may know from teaching Hatha Yoga at SMA) describe their struggles to get through to him, getting only anger and denial. Doug left around 2003, good for him! It is a sign of his integrity, and it's been nice to hear from him in this way.

AS had the same climate of enforced conformity that SY used to silence its devotees. You can read all about that in Amy Ippoliti's statement on why she left AS. She was a senior teacher, with AS from the beginning, and many of her experiences bring up memories of the punishments administered when one was not in the good graces of the omnipotent leader: []

Another insightful article is "Grounding Anusara 2: a brief ayurvedic follow-up" by Matthew Remski, on (You can only read one article per day for free in their online magazine, after that you pay $1 per month).

Now that name Anusara has taken on a whole other connotation. Just as the name of SY became more and more tainted, the Anusara brand is quite trashed. Hopefully, this will be the wake-up call for many individuals, to be careful with giving our power away!

Thank you all for your many helpful contributions on this blog! It has been a life saver for me in many ways during my tumultuous transition.

Free At Last

March 7, 2012 9:09 PM
Anonymous said...
"John always – ALWAYS – honors his lineage, his teachers. He remains super respectful of Mr. Iyengar, and his puja in honor of Gurumayi is where he goes to connect and do his own heart-work. He is not in this for the money, as those close to him know; he lives simply, and carefully. He is in this for the act and delight of helping, of lighting the path, of true service."

-- Anusaran Elena Brower
in response to the NYT July 2010 article, The Yoga Mogul


March 7, 2012 10:25 PM
Anonymous said...
Did JF find SY, or did SY find JF?

What year did he first appear on the SY scene and when did he start to phase out?

Did SY "employ" him and, in effect, launch his career?

Was he "inner circle"?

If the above is excerpt is true -- that in 2010 he still had a puja in place for GM (even if symbolic, or nostalgic) -- that would indicate SY still had some hold over him. And that in and of itself should have been more than enough cause for his students to seriously question his ethics and integrity.

I could see having respect for a yoga teacher who'd lived and learned from their SY experience, then moved on to create a whole new thing as a way to salvage and rebuild. But it just doesn't make sense to me that anyone with Internet access would be investing their money in the guy's classes if they knew he still had strong ties to SY.

But maybe that's just one more repeated parallel in this story. Maybe JF was also a bit of revisionist when it came to his own history.

March 7, 2012 11:13 PM
Anonymous said...
To help answer the question how Friend came to SY, there is an interview still currently posted on teh official

Friend doesn't hide his association with SY, at the same time he usually also mentions his other teachers. My husband told me he read another very recent interview with Friend. In it he mentions that he still feels that GM is his guru, even though he doesn't know where she is these days or what she is up to.

Half way into the above interview you'll find this question:
"How did you connect with your teacher, Gurumayi Chidvilasanada?"

--> Friend gives a long share about his first stay in Ganeshpuri. It sounds beautiful & spontaneous, just like the many experience shares of SY that we have all heard over the years & probably experienced ourselves...

Too bad that there is another side to GM's power, that held us down, made people lie for her, asked sevites to throw rocks at her brother, & help cover up Afif's rape, etc. etc.

Friend: "In October 1989, I went to India to study with Iyengar in Pune. Then I traveled around the country and got sick. I happened to be in Goa, and I really needed Western food, because my stomach couldn't handle the Indian spices any more. I had heard of an ashram in Ganeshpuri, north of Bombay, which supposedly had very good Western food. I decided to go there, rest for a couple of weeks, and eat some good food. [...}

I put the mic down and stood on the stage. I put my hands in namaste, closed my eyes, and said a prayer. "Gurumayi, I need some serious help. If you are who they say you are, I need all of that." I bent over into Uttanasana, put my hands on the stage, and started pressing up both legs into a handstand. It was like someone took a blanket, wrapped it around me, and lifted me up. I was upside down looking at my hands on the uneven carpeted stage. I stuck the handstand. I wasn't even trying. I opened my legs up and threw them into Padmasana in a handstand. Perfect. For fifteen minutes, I flowed through this routine. I did poses I hadn't even planned to do. I felt so totally supported. It was magic. I was detached, seeing this thing happen as if it was somebody else's body. I stopped, put my hands in namaste, and the crowd gave me a standing ovation. It was an incredible moment.

Spontaneously, I jumped off the stage and went over to Gurumayi and pranamed. I knew that was the first tangible grace I had ever experienced. I had read about grace in books for years and thought I understood the concept, but I believed grace was something someone might not experience in their lifetime. I experienced it there. It was very tangible. From then on I felt connected to her."

So there you have it! As usual, the good & the dark are closely mixed together. One AS friend of mine, who also has been in SY since forever, said to me: "John was an amazing channel. He WAS Gurumayi." She meant that as a compliment! But to me it sounded like a unintended double-entendre, one more explanation of how Friend managed to abuse his power & charisma for years on end. He learned from GM how to mesmerize crowds & he took advantage of it, for the sake, and because, of his sociopath narcissistic ego.

Maybe it started out in the light, but then it went South quickly...

Free At Last

March 8, 2012 11:15 AM
Anonymous said...
In answer to Anonymous from March 7, 2012 10:25 PM:

Thank you for quoting Elena Brower. In July 2010, the NY Times article [] made waves in Anu-land by exposing some of the shadow side of the "Yoga Mogul" John Friend. His senior teacher Elena Brower ran to his rescue and passionately defended him. She has been called "his female counterpart" for many years, and her fame rose with his. Just 3 weeks ago, on Feb 20, 2012, that same Elena Brower explains in the Huffington Post why she resigned from AS. She apologizes for having stayed for so long and for having lied on behalf of Friend. []

I appreciate her being so open about her role as an enabler, one of those who covered up the power abuses of the leader in the center of the whole mess. We know so well from SY what being part of the "inner circle" can do to people's integrity.

Elena: "Even for us, the ones who knew some (but none of us really knew all of it), it felt terrible to see, from both sides: How could he? But then we realized, how could we? We were oftentimes complicit -- some of us enabled the liar to lie by lying for him ourselves. There were these strangely uncomfortable, spooky moments in the past few years, to be sure; I was asked to help cover up one big personal lie for John, which ultimately needed to be cleaned up on my end. [...]

I stayed because of the history, the quality of my education, and most of all, my fear about losing my standing in the yoga world. The night I called John to resign, back in October 2011, my first apology was for letting that fear rule my world, for staying for the wrong reasons, when true integrity would have had me leave long before.

John seemed threatened, sad, unsure and at times, unsteady. Several of us tried to talk to him about it, only to be met with denial and even sometimes anger, which in many cases drove us, in our own personal ways, into old patterns of wanting to please our "parents": backtracking, questioning ourselves, adding to the mounting pile of lies, assuaging him so we could stay in his good graces, feel safe, and keep our lives in order. That part might be the saddest part, and the part about which I'm personally most sorry, this repeating of family patterns in this professional context."

This is a very clear account of the fear-mentality that rules cults and makes people slide down the slippery slope of self-denial, self-doubt and dishonesty. The same blue print as in SY - to stay in the good graces of the leader, you had to bend over backward and forget about your previous code of ethics.

Free at Last

March 8, 2012 11:48 AM
SeekHer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
March 8, 2012 3:06 PM
SeekHer said...

I have no information on the whereabouts of Gurumayi. It's certainly possible she resurfaced last August for a celebration: I haven't seen the photos but I wouldn't be surprised to learn she dons the saffron for an appearance every few years when big-ticket donors need a peacock brushing to keep the purse-strings open. Also-there would be too many legal and financial ramifications on the SYDA end for her to disappear altogether. As I've written elsewhere, Siddha Yoga may be dead but SYDA is very much alive, at least as an iron-clad legal fiction.

The thing you have to ask yourself is, if GM is indeed still playing an active role and teaching a handful of hand-picked devotees "privately" as some maintain, why is there is never any official confirmation of this? The best and I think only answer is because silence engenders the sort of whispered rumors about GM that keep people feeling they are "in the know" and therefore on the hook. When devotees in Fallsburg whisper that GM is in Ganeshpuri, and devotees in Ganeshpuri hear that she wintered in Hawaii and those in Hawaii know that she just left Oakland, well, the Guru can at last truly be said to be omnipresent.

SY always operated this way, even when GM was very much around. There were wheels within wheels and inner circles within inner circles and everyone got to feel they were privy to information that others didn't have (remember all the hints you might hear from higher-ups in seva about the 'divine inspiration' they received regarding how the department was to be run?) In reality, almost no one knew what was really going on and everyone was being conned by someone they believed to be closer to the guru.

As others have said, it's best to just let it go at this point. GM ain't coming back in any way that you will ever be a part of, unless you are a wealthy patron. There are SY students I know who still practice, having made peace with the fact that the inner Guru is the only one they will ever have access to going forward. There is a certain beauty in such faithful resignation--even if from the other side of disenchantment it seems terribly misplaced. But waiting around for the past to come back (as if GM herself was just waiting for everyone to leave save the most faithful of her faithful remnant disciples before reappearing) is just a recipe for perpetual unhappiness.

PS Glad to see so many adding so much background on the Anasura scandal, particularly from their personal perspective.

March 8, 2012 3:06 PM

March 8, 2012 3:08 PM
Anonymous said...
SeekHer, you said:
"when big-ticket donors need a peacock brushing to keep the purse-strings open."

Suggested re-phrasing:
"A peacock STROKING..."

March 8, 2012 5:21 PM
Anonymous said...
SeekHer wrote: "As others have said, it's best to just let it go at this point. GM ain't coming back in any way that you will ever be a part of, unless you are a wealthy patron."

I agree with you, re: the "inner circles within the inner circles" & the constant rumors that have everyone hooked. I myself am certain that I don't want to be a part of the guru-disciple psycho drama anymore!! I am currently much more interested in what can be learned from the Anusara contemplations. I feel that in that arena, there is more of a chance for some outer justice & clear repercussions for the leader, something that we didn't get much of in SY. I guess I am still longing for justice, trying to clarify to myself what that could mean...

However, since Seekher started this blog in 2007 wondering about GM's whereabouts, I just want to add my 2 cents. My info mostly comes from friends at my local center who have recently been in SMA. (I guess our center is one of the few that hasn’t closed down yet, and that still has decent attendance. Partially, that is because some old timers seem to move here to be part of the center life.) I don't think that just wealthy patrons are invited - even though I'm sure that must help, especially if you don't want to commit to much seva, or are highly qualified for some important seva.

I think if someone still really wanted to check out GM & current ashram life, they could apply for one of the open seva positions on staff, for some months at a time. Once you have gone through the lengthy application process & have an in with one department, department heads can request for you to come back, even just for a weekend or a week. That is how it was explained to me by a young drummer who used to go to SMA regularly for seva weekends in the AV department. Granted, he was young & had always been favored by GM, having grown up in SMA… But I've heard similar stories from friends in their 50ies & 60ies as well.

For instance, on Jan 7, '12, I received an email share from a young fellow whom I knew from our local center. He had applied to do seva in Ganeshpuri, where he was since June '10. (Ironically, I was one of the people asked to fill out his reference form, just as I was starting my sudden exit from SY). Apparently, he had gone on from GSP to be on staff in SMA. He wrote about seeing GM for the first time in the hall in Atmanidhi, where the chants take place since some years (former Yellow Room, as I understand it).

Nobody goes to Anugraha, unless you are super-special & live there. Sadhana Kutir was sold a long, long time ago. My friend’s email described a meeting with GM & the ashram managers, going over open seva position & organizational structures of the ashram. He had never seen GM before, & was beside himself with excitement. He said he has seen her several times since then during "Noon Satsang Events".
So the game is still being played, just on a smaller scale…

More to follow -

Free At Last

March 8, 2012 9:10 PM
Anonymous said...
Continuing my last post:

Another center friend of mine went to SMA for 2 weeks over GM's birthday in June ‘10. She had been in touch with a long-time friend of ours who had been on staff for 2 years or so. That friend’s request helped speed up the application process. So the two did seva together in her department. Out of the blue, my friend was invited to come to the temple for a flute concert given to GM. Very few people were present. GM had them share afterwards about their experience with the concert. My friend was too shy to speak, being still stunned that she was there in the first place.

On the other hand, the long-time friend who was on staff reported that she had hardly seen GM in the 2-3 years that she spent offering full-time seva at SMA. So there is no guarantee & GM has not made herself very available in person.

My local friend went back last summer, in July ‘11, for 2 weeks, for more seva in the same department. Apparently, she saw GM quite a few times during her stay. She shared at our center about GM talking in staff meetings, scolding people that they weren’t welcoming enough. She had them do role plays, working on being more welcoming. My friend said she got a lot out of it… I was already out of SY & didn’t really want to listen to too much of that guru talk.

Then there are two old-timers at my local (ex-)center who had been former darshan girls & always have done seva close to GM (like, literally in her house...) since forever. They have both been going regularly to SMA over the last 5 years, that I was aware of, working on different seva projects. One friend is a healer of sorts & mainly goes to teach her skills to the staff.

They were not supposed to talk about their seva, not even to their husband (one of them is married), so I could never get much detail from them. (Reminds me of this joke that sums it all up: “Do you know the latest Ashram joke? - No.- I can’t tell you, it’s confidential!!”) Sometimes they would share a few breadcrumbs. While I was still a devotee, it was soothing for me to hear that GM was alive & having meetings with people, even though not with me.

So I personally haven't doubted that GM is still around, doing pretty much the same thing for the few people who happen to be there. I am just so glad that I am not longing to be one of them anymore!

Free At Last

March 8, 2012 9:13 PM
Anonymous said...
Hey Seekers,
It is awesome to give voice to feelings, opinions, and events that take place in our lives. Personally, I love Gurumayi and am grateful to her. The life I was living before meeting her was no life at all. I am not wealthy now nor have I ever been wealthy, yet she taught me to love myself and seek within. I also experienced pure witness consciousness in her presence which is manifested today simply by closing my eyes for a few minutes. I love those that love her, and I love those that hate her. Lovers, haters, champions, activists, gossips, philosophers, we are all seeking to become better human beings. With respect to you all, please remember to keep breathing through feelings of stress, betrayal, anger, abandonment, or whatever else may be going on. I have nothing but love for all who read these words. Personally, I didn't go looking for a Guru so I could tell her what to do or make demands of my own. Accepting the feelings of frustration, attachment, and everything else is essential for those who continue on the path of Siddha Yoga, and for those who have moved on. And if you have moved on, don't punish yourself by getting stuck in the past. And if remembering the wonderful aspects of Siddha Yoga that kept you involved for years gives you feelings of gratitude, savor them! Personally, having not been at an ashram or center for many, many years, I have had to go within when intense feelings have come up. With no more retreats, Intensives with Gurumayi, Amrit, active ashram community, celebrations, bookstore drooling, I have actually been forced to sit down and MEDITATE. And CHANT. The grace is there, and these timeless practices actually work beautifully. I don't walk in Gurumayi's shoes, and I don't judge. I don't throw stones at John Friend because I have made huge mistakes in my life and been forgiven. Did he ever claim to be a saint? I don't think so. I think he only ever claimed to be an accomplished Hatha Yoga teacher who loves life. We are all just people here. Human beings on our journeys. Please accept my love and respect, and please take care and try to be gentle with yourselves. I'm sure some who read these words will be angry just because I am not jumping on the bandwagon to bash human beings who have given me so much. Gurumayi taught me to chant, meditate, do japa, eat well, and honor myself. She awakened inner experiences that continue in my life even today. A woman once journeyed through a jungle to get to Bhagawan Nityananda and when she arrived he threw a piece of fruit at her head. That was the only time she ever saw him, and reported many years later that after that event and the processing of the accompanying anger, she fell into bliss on a daily basis for the rest of her life. A saint or an abusive exhibitionist? Isn't it all in our perceptions? I love you all and want you to be happy. I moved on from my childhood religion with anger at first, but it was Siddha Yoga that encouraged me to be grateful for what it gave me and not hang on to the toxic anger. Many friends and family members still practice the religion of my childhood, and I celebrate their path. I am delighted that people I love find peace and joy in a spiritual path whether or not I feel the same about it as they. I was angry about my childhood religion for many years, but finally realized the anger was making me physically, emotionally, and spiritually ill. I could have chosen to stay in anger, but didn't. You may feel you need to take actions to right what you feel has been wronged. As you do what you need to do, say what you need to say, express what you need to express, and make right however you feel wronged, please remember to love YOU. You are the one who matters. YOU are the being of light you are seeking. YOU are the hero of your own life. And while you are expressing feelings of anger, please be careful. Gurumayi's body is not being affected by them. Your body is. I love you.

March 8, 2012 10:46 PM
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
March 8, 2012 10:46 PM
Anonymous said...

SeekHer, did you just punk us?


March 9, 2012 12:55 AM
SeekHer said...
Dear March 8th 10:46 Anon:

Yup, you will likely hear from others here about your comment. I don't take offense at anything you've said, even while not agreeing with all of it. For me, your most interesting remark was that, having found yourself without the social supports of Siddha Yoga, e.g. amrit and celebrations and feasts and the like, that you finally turned to the practices in earnest. I lived not far from Shree Muktananda ashram and had a lively local center, so for many years my practice was probably 80% social/seva/satsang and 20% private devotions. I meditated regularly, but never consistently every day. I did chant a lot, in groups and the GG alone, although I can't imagine doing the latter now. I wonder what it would have been like if, during the time that GM went missing, I had chosen the inner-guru path--but I'll never know as I chose instead to initiate the maha-act of self-inquiry that is this blog and which led me to question too much of what happened and what I had been taught about the guru-disciple relationship to find refuge in the inner-guru.

Still, I'm fascinated by the experience of people who have chosen to walk that path. I'm both attracted to and very wary of the see-god-within-you optimism your comment brims with. The attraction lies in the realization that one of the fall-outs of disenchantment is that it is very hard to give oneself whole-heartedly to any spiritual endeavor again. At least I find that to be so, and life without a spiritual dimension has always seemed terribly anemic to me. There are things I learned in SY that seem to me to be good and useful antidotes to some of the more pernicious aspects of our tech-driven society. Perhaps I'll write more about that on this blog; haven't made my mind up yet.

FREE AT LAST-- thank you for sharing these 'sightings'. I'm actually truly surprised by them, but I don't know why that would be so. It does sadden me, though, because so many write here looking for just this sort of information --just a glimpse to know GM is still around--and it's clear that they are not getting such reassurances from SYDA or their local center leadership. What a strange, truncated path this has become; one that strands many many sincere seekers by the wayside and keeps them in a kind of limbo while a chosen few who are willing to commit months of their time in full-time seva are--perhaps--able to spend a few moments in GM's presence (although, as your comment makes clear, even that is not a sure thing.)

March 9, 2012 3:00 PM
SeekHer said...
OH and no! no punking I swear! And comments that appear as deleted are duplicates posted by people who haven't figured out posting system--so no conspiracy theories about anyone's voice being censored.

March 9, 2012 3:02 PM
Anonymous said...
“I put the mic down and stood on the stage. I put my hands in namaste, closed my eyes, and said a prayer. ‘Gurumayi, I need some serious help. If you are who they say you are, I need all of that.’ I bent over into Uttanasana, put my hands on the stage, and started pressing up both legs into a handstand. It was like someone took a blanket, wrapped it around me, and lifted me up. I was upside down looking at my hands on the uneven carpeted stage. I stuck the handstand. I wasn't even trying. I opened my legs up and threw them into Padmasana in a handstand. Perfect . . .

I jumped off the stage and went over to Gurumayi and pranamed. I knew that was the first tangible grace I had ever experienced. I had read about grace in books for years and thought I understood the concept, but I believed grace was something someone might not experience in their lifetime. I experienced it there. It was very tangible. From then on I felt connected to her.”

Thank you, Free at Last, for posting the above from John Friend.

The excerpt reminds me that so much of what I believed was “prayer” back when I was devotee was actually just juvenile wishes and finger crossing, driven by my then child-like desire to “believe.” And, for whatever reasons, GM did seem to have the ability to grant wishes. There was often a fairly tangible instant reaction to taking a hit of her magic wish pipe, or so it seemed. And those instant hits fed, and fed off of, our deep need to believe she was real.

Looking back – and this has nothing to do with Friend; reflecting on my own experience here, his just happens to trigger memoires of my nearly-forgotten devotee mindset – the notion that you would internally beg another human being to, for example, help you do a handstand in front of an audience, says so much.

Today it strikes me as naïve, and sad.

What good came to the world as a result of all that begging and wish granting? What good came from all that magical thinking?

In my own life the only thing I can say for sure is that my participation in SY bought me a little time and helped me postpone facing myself and my life.

Once I finally started facing myself, I was also able to start facing SY -- for what it really was.

Once I was no longer hiding from who I was, the truth about SY became glaringly apparent. It hurt, for sure. But there was no way to avoid facing up forever, at least not for me.

Best to all,

Oh yeah, and p.s., since I've been chiming in a bit more regularly as of late I spose it's time I put my handle back in. Just trying to help keep things straight. ;)

March 9, 2012 6:52 PM
Anonymous said...
To Anonymous from March 8, 2012 10:46 PM

There is a lot that could be said about your post - it reminds me of a few previous discussions (on this blog & the blog after Eat, Pray, Love). It seems that sometimes people chime in to say something like "Don't feel so angry, get over it" & to give a whole lot of advice on acceptance, gratitude and so forth. I think in John Friend's case, it is too soon to forgive and forget everything, for sure. He hasn't even admitted to most of it, and is back to covering things up.

So for many reasons, your post doesn't sit very well with me, even though you say you only wish us love. I don't think anybody here is stuck in anger and needs to move on. I think we are all exactly where we need to be right now to process things. At some times in life, anger is a important tool to get yourself moved out of a situation that is harmful to you. I have appreciated people here calling a spade a spade.

You said:

"I don't walk in Gurumayi's shoes, and I don't judge. I don't throw stones at John Friend because I have made huge mistakes in my life and been forgiven. Did he ever claim to be a saint? I don't think so. I think he only ever claimed to be an accomplished Hatha Yoga teacher who loves life. We are all just people here."

Well, in GM's case, of course, we were clearly told to see her as a saint, and God-incarnate which made it so hard to see the dark underside of her behavior. That was the whole point of having a "living guru" as we were chanting it in the Guru Gita.

I also strongly disagree that John Friend only saw himself as a Hatha Yoga teacher. In reality, as all the confessions show that are coming out now, he was the dictator orchestrating a reign of terror on anyone who dared to disagree with him. It was pretty Orwellian, as in 1984, spying on people online, canceling their workshops if they didn't "cooperate", as Amy Ippoliti reported, a zillion other things that all point in the same direction: He saw himself as the undisputed king of his self-created universe, and he had accumulated a lot of power to enforce his wishes and whims.

John Friend’s transgressions are not limited to craving sex “in his private life” as some people have said. He was a public figure and took advantage of all the power that came with it. So when some of the teachers & commenters ask to protect his privacy and not to judge him for what he did in his "private life", it sounds very misguided to me. We need full accountability here!!!
I also think for many of the women who were intimately involved with him, in whatever way, it will be very hard to come out into the open. They will fear getting blamed, and they probably feel embarrassed or ashamed already for having gone along with Friend’s power play in this way. Even if it was grown women, and supposedly consential activity, the power balance here was obviously heavily tilted in the direction of the boss.

More to come in the next post -

Free at Last

March 9, 2012 7:06 PM
Anonymous said...
Dear Seekher & Lucid,

This is so fun for me to hear your voices & be in an active online group with you! This is actually the first time for me to speak up on a blog like this - after devouring every word on them for some months.

It has only been 11 months since my departure from SY, so it is all still pretty fresh for me. In the period when I was really making up my mind, I read many of Lucid's contributions here and on other sites. They rang a bell & resonated much more with me than the voices who seemed to be so desperately determined to defend SY at all costs.

It helped me get out of the fog & leave behind the "devotee mindset" as you call it.

It has been important for me to read all your contemplations, to create the vocabulary to thrive post-SY, after having jumped over, onto the other side of the fence.

Free At Last

PS: I like it out here, on the wild side...

March 9, 2012 7:27 PM
Anonymous said...
Free At Last & SeekHer,

Much to say to you both.

Please give me time.


March 10, 2012 2:41 PM

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: The downside of yoga
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 14, 2012 05:11AM



Post a Comment On: Rituals of DisEnchantment
3 Comments - Show Original Post
Collapse comments
Anonymous said...
Gosh, I don't want to enjoy this too much, but what craptacular fall from grace! Couldn't be worse and the full story isn't even out. See you should never direct your own PR. No perpsective. On a serious note, hope it stops all kinds of narcissitic nonsense. Many spend what they don't have seeking what Friend is shilling.

Seekher site veering close to an official guilty pleasure. :-)

Sad for many I realize. May their wounds heal quickly.

March 13, 2012 11:38 AM

Anonymous said...
Glad you are (finally) taking this up here. This whole thing is the legacy of what the Siddha Yoga organization has bequeathed to us. The worst and most abused features of Anusara Yoga as a business and cultish phenomenon were appropriated directly from the methodologies of Siddha Yoga, not to mention the manipulation of teachings to exalt the authority of the 'Teacher.' Lot's to read on Yoga Dork, where the real discussion (and honesty) is taking place.

March 13, 2012 12:07 PM

Anonymous said...
I'll repeat: JF drank the Kulaid and poisoned himself and his business.

What's going on is about yoga, it's about trusting ourselves, our impressions and inner voices. It's a very earthy yoga and that's part of the epiphany.

March 13, 2012 12:25 PM

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: The downside of yoga
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 14, 2012 05:15AM


Anonymous said...
I hear you Anon at 2:14. Siddha Yoga and it's spawn Anusara yoga are not organic paths. They are vehicles to make money! And wow John Friend you raked it in.

Here's a clue to figure out a false path.

If the leader insists everything is all "love snd light" RUN! Only the naive believe such things. Life is also sour and bitter. Attempting a diet of all sweet will distort you, incapacitate you for reality. Wake up! Walk out. You do not need thse charlatans! Anusara are a big bunch of phonies. Wanna get fit? Try a gym. Wanna be a better person? Practice being kind to your own families.

When did these Anusara teachers decide they were qualified to preach ancient wisdom? They don't know shit!

March 12, 2012 8:16 AM

Anonymous said...
The EST/Landmark leader brought Muktananda to the US. Large Awareness Training pyramid scheme is the acorn to this tree.

March 12, 2012 9:17 AM

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: The downside of yoga
Posted by: good enough ()
Date: March 14, 2012 09:11PM

If you don't think yoga wear is revealing enough, there's always naked yoga. I'm sure Lululemon won't be promoting this because not much $$$ to be made if this were to really catch on.

All I can say is I hope people bring their own mats.

Bringing a whole new angle to downward dog: How a Brooklyn yoga studio hosts NAKED classes for men only

By Victoria Wellman

PUBLISHED: 18:49 GMT, 13 March 2012 | UPDATED: 21:22 GMT, 13 March 2012

Comments (39)

Yoga has long appealed to Westerners in search of holistic physical activity and meditation as a release from the tension of daily life.

But a yoga studio in Brooklyn's Park Slope has taken the concept of leaving one's stress from the day at the studio door a step further by also asking patrons to leave their clothes.

And this is not the only rule that Naked Space insists on. The un-clothed classes are open to men only and women are strictly forbidden from entering their sanctuary of bare-boned masculinity.
Ladies banned: A yoga studio in Park Slope, Brooklyn, runs naked yoga classes for men only

Ladies banned: A yoga studio in Park Slope, Brooklyn, runs naked yoga classes for men only

If the website is to be deciphered correctly, however, the class neither targets gay men exclusively nor their straight counterparts.

Rather it considers 'desire and repulsion' as 'equally distracting from the path of self-discovery and enlightenment' and calls on yogis to get comfortable with the nudity 'and experience the deep healing of personal acceptance.'

While other naked events that take place at the studio still involve women, these men-only classes incorporate regular poses and breathing exercises while encouraging participants to shed their egos as they shed their clothes.


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Super-slimmer transforms from 20-stone recluse to svelte male model after being dumped by girlfriend

The website explains: 'More anatomical information is available to both teacher and student; it feels liberating; the experience of trust and community that exists in a group of naked people can be deeply healing.'

One testimonial on the homepage rather consciously focuses on the healing element of the class and gushes: 'I've never had so much attention paid to my inner body.'

Naked Space was established by founder Michael Gates in 2005 as way to prolong co-ed naturist activities and 'preserve communities' after the end of summer.
Naked ambition: Michael Gates who founded the studio established the centre first as a naturists' community

Naked ambition: Michael Gates who founded the studio established the centre first as a naturists' community

As male lovers of garment liberation continued to meet and increase, however, a decision was made to introduce male only sessions of Hatha yoga to the list of practices available.

On Tuesday evenings in the South Slope space, intermediate level yogis can pay $20 to enjoy their asanas au naturel knowing that only men will be staring at their crotches in downward dog.

Whether that is a comfort to its participants is surely a question of personal preference but a short list of thoughtful FAQ's tackles at least one awkward question that curious class goers may wonder: What if I get an erection?

The website's response to this concern: 'Congratulate yourself for having a healthy reproductive system. Seriously, erections are natural. Some guys will get them, some won't; either way, it's not a problem.

What you choose to do with your erection is another matter. Be responsible for your actions and aware of the other people sharing the space.'

Which makes us feel perhaps a little relieved that we're not allowed into Naked Yoga...

Read more: []

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: The downside of yoga
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 14, 2012 11:29PM

Concerning Naked Yoga...another venture offered this. Read here.

Now, to the matter of secrecy in Muktananda and Gurumayi's Siddha Yoga and SYDA Yoga respectively.

Sarah Caldwell, a former devotee of Siddha Yoga, wrote an article entitled The Heart of the Secret, well worth reading.


The seeds Baba (Muktananda) planted have not withered away, however. Today,nearly twenty years after his death, a number of talented scholars have emerged into the field of Hindu studies who are former devotees ofSwami Muktananda, initiates into Siddha Yoga. Feeling the need to protect their identities, these scholars have not revealed their initiatory pasts, but are nonetheless fueled by the extraordinary power of theirexperiences of Baba’s Siddha Yoga. (Caldwell was apparently not aware that Muktananda had incorporated material from Werner Erhard's EST training into the Siddha Yoga intensives. Erhard, as noted in discussions cited earlier, was close to Muktananda and sponsored Muk in his early trip the the US. The scholars who had the extraorindary experiences were poisoned by an ingredient that was MODERN, not ancient--Erhard Seminars Training - whose current incarnation is Landmark Education. Spin offs are Lifespring-Corboy)

Many are only now beginningto piece together the complexities of their own feelings about thecontroversies that still swirl around Baba’s name. A whole new gen-eration of brilliant scholars, including the editors and authors o f Meditation Revolution, have come lately to Siddha Yoga, as devotees ofthe charismatic Gurumayi.

Their history is only what she has told them,what remains in the pillaged archives, what can be read and known afterall dissenting voices have been purged. This is a disturbing history, anda false one.

After Muktananda died, in 1982, his niece Gurumayi executed a coup and took control of SYDA yoga, and it is her ashram that is un-named but described in the current and popular book, "Eat Pray and Love' (and the movie)

Much documentation and photographys were destroyed, so as to erase evidence that Muktananda had designated two successors - Gurumayi and Nityananda.

A different take on Gurumayi is available via a memoir by Marta Szabo, entitled The Guru Looked Good.

This is more, much more than a problem of a bunch of seekers and their 'craving minds.'

Its about gurus craving power and with-holding information from seekers, who unlike the guru, are sincere and unlike the guru, tried to the best of their ability to bare their souls, while the guru was pretending to be a Hatha yogi while secretly using tantra and in the case of Muktananda, reportedly using methods learned from his American buddy Werner Erhard, architect of EST.

Here is one persons discussion of what happened to her during the silent Intensive.


Siddha and SYDA yoga had grim and dirty legacies in another important area - psychotherapists who became devotees were reportedly suborned into using their therapy practices to persuade therapy clients into becoming devotees.



Here is some dialogue in which people describe the situation. It was from an early discussion on AOL, just after Liz Harris' exposure of SYDA Yoga was published in New Yorker magazine, in the early 1990s.


Note: Further on in the Dialog it states these conferences took place in the
early 1980s. So this wasnt a brief aberration in SYDA yoga culture. It appears to have been a systematic long term pattern. C)

Here is a quote indicating how early this corruption process took place in SYDA--suborning and flattering the narcissism of therapists.

"Howie, did you not know that these "conferences" for the mental health
professionals have been going on for years? I remember hearing about one in the early 80s, and I believe they have been offered fairly regularly to such practitioners. They are NOT ordinarily listed in the regular summer

A NYC psychologist and SY meditation teacher has offered scholarly
presentations to the professional community on "spirituality and meditation"
and a large number of his clients are now in SY. He would be a likely
candidate for this summer's panel.

The *first* time I *ever* saw a picture of Gurumayi (of her at the 1982
Patabhishek - successor installation) was in a *therapeutic* setting with
this therapist. He (showing me the wallet-sized photo): "Isn't she the most
beautiful creature you've ever seen?!" Me: "Uh, she's ... BALD!" When I
later began participating in SY, I received very specific strokes from him"

Subj: some thoughts - 2 of 2
Date: 96-05-21 16:14:52 EDT
From: Dissent222

Part 2 of 2

Next rant.

Now, There is a psychotherapy conference happening at the ashram this summer, the 4th annual conference. It's called Kashmir Shaivism in Professional Practice. Among the lead speakers are: Sw. Durgananada, the one who lied and refused to admit that she had acknowledged to the Boston devotees that Baba did have sex with many young girls. She'll be helping the participants to use "the witness consciousness, as we discover how to work with and dissolvedeep tendencies with the fire of our own awareness." Perhaps she will also be teaching how to use witness consciousness to lie about and conceal sexual abuses in the ashram.

Then there's (name omitted) one of the psychologists that breaks his
professional code of ethics and violates the confidentiality of his clients
by schmoozing with GM about them and listening to her make sarcastic comments about them while he joins in the laughter.

Then there's the conference organizer, (name omitted), one of those guys who chased GM's brother around Kennedy Airport, threatening him and shouting, "we're going to get you." ( BTW, the other "clones" in the airport incident were (names omitted.)

One of the most astonishing parts of the conference is a section entitled:
"How Can We Share Siddha Yoga With Clients" led by a panel of syda

There is only one answer which is in accordance with the ethical
codes of the psychotherapy (psychiatry, psychology, social work)
profession(s): that is NOT to share SYDA at all. Nothing could be more
unprofessional and more damaging to a pscychotherapy client than for their
therapist to recruit them into a religion.

And yet again and again, SYDA devotees who are therapists bring busloads of their clients to the ashram to meet GM. There are innumerable implications, all of them damaging to the client, to doing something so patently unprofessional as that.

The most obvious is that, say the client is wandering around the internet and gets pointed to this discussion. They read every word, the open letters, the essay, the archives. And then they try to discuss it with their therapist, if they aren't too frightened of his potential response to broach the subject.

And say this therapist decides to tell the patient that their doubts
are projections, paranoia; maybe the therapist says "trust your own

And really, that's just the tip of the iceberg of this issue.

More later -


Subj: Re:some thoughts - 2 of 2
Date: 96-05-21 18:30:56 EDT
From: Howie Sm

Dear AOL readers,

It was just mentioned that a SYDA program offering is titled:


Do they mean how can professional therapists discuss (share?!) Siddha Yoga

For the love of Caesar! Talkin' bout zombie recruitment strategies! This
is lower than a fishbelly in the Mariana trench!

If this is true, these mere eight words--IN THEMSELVES--are unethical, and an outrage.

--It is prima facie evidence of SYDA's lack of regard for any standards (such as PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS) except their own.

--It is prima facie evidence of SYDA's automatic assumption that it can
violate anyone's boundaries, that it can use the emotional vulnerabilites of
those seeking help as an entree for self-serving spiritual-vampire
adventures. Not to mention as an entree to pocketbooks and strong backs.

--It is STRONG EVIDENCE that SYDA therapists are already accustomed to using their profession for zombie recruitment. The relish and magnitude with which the idea has been embraced indicates the momentum that is behind it, within the ranks of the SYDA therapist population.

--The fact that those participating probably SINCERELY THINK THAT SIDDHA YOGA IS THE "WAY," and that they let this belief affect their professional conduct indicates that these therapists are MENTALLY DISTURBED as a result of their protracted brainwashing--it indicates yet again that: SIDDHA YOGA IS A DESTRUCTIVE CULT.

Can one imagine a Jewish, Catholic, or Islamic therapist with this kind of
unethical hubris?

Dissent222, am I misinterpreting what you wrote? This course sounds so
unethical and crazy that I can't believe even wacko SYDA would go public with a title like "HOW CAN WE SHARE SIDDHA YOGA WITH CLIENTS."

The final kicker is: I bet the discipleship is so brainwashed that they
won't even notice how grossly problematic this cockamamy concept is.

Subj: SYDA Therapist Disorder
Date: 96-05-21 21:23:01 EDT
From: Dissent222

No, Howie, you haven't misinterpreted anything. The Flyer for this event
lists the following:
Saturday, July 20
9 - 12:30 Morning Prog.w/GM
12:30-2 Lunch
2-2:15 Welcome, overview and history
2:30 Psychotherapists Panel: "How Can We Share Siddha Yoga with Clients?"
Case histories, discussion, small groups and sharing.

And it goes on and on.

So you see, the recruitment aspect of the program is given billing second
only to Gurumayi.

Pretty stunning, isn't it?

(Great Caesars ghost!—more! Corboy)

Subj: Recruiting therapist stooges
Date: 96-05-22 11:32:23 EDT
From: Howie Sm

Dear Dissent222,

Thanks for the information about the

<<>> Case histories, discussion, small groups and sharing.>>>

CASE HISTORIES! Case histories of "sharing Siddha Yoga with clients," case histories of zombie recruitment activities? Good grief! Freud is rolling in his grave. What happened to professional ethics!

<<>>--Small group meetings are ideal settings in which
"oldtimer" therapists with dirty hands can induct "green" therapists into
their unethical society of zombie-recruiters. Small groups = peer pressure
brainwashing. No doubt they'll pull out the "small group" brainwashing
techniques that were perfected in activities such as "center leader"

<<>>--"Sharing" of how to "share Siddha Yoga"? Sounds like more
standard mind control. My guess is sharing here will function as a bonding
ritual. Hearing "oldtimer" therapists talk comfortably about using their
professional office for zombie recruitment will neutralize the impression of
professional ethics that may be in place in the minds of "newcomer"

MY HYPOTHESIS: This workshop is about recruiting therapists! About training therapists to become SYDA-stooges, who will use their professional identities as a cover!

So, this seems to be about recruiting stooges--who will then go out and
recruit zombies. What we need now are workshops on how to recruit "trainers" who will recruit stooges who will recruit zombies. Then a workshop on how to recruit "trainer trainers" who can recruit trainers who will recruit stooges who will recruit zombies. Then a workshop on how to recruit . . .

Subj: "Therapy" as "yoga"
Date: 96-05-22 19:26:28 EDT
From: Cker

Howie, did you not know that these "conferences" for the mental health
professionals have been going on for years? I remember hearing about one in the early 80s, and I believe they have been offered fairly regularly to such practitioners. They are NOT ordinarily listed in the regular summer

A NYC psychologist and SY meditation teacher has offered scholarly
presentations to the professional community on "spirituality and meditation"
and a large number of his clients are now in SY. He would be a likely
candidate for this summer's panel.

The *first* time I *ever* saw a picture of Gurumayi (of her at the 1982
Patabhishek - successor installation) was in a *therapeutic* setting with
this therapist. He (showing me the wallet-sized photo): "Isn't she the most
beautiful creature you've ever seen?!" Me: "Uh, she's ... BALD!" When I
later began participating in SY, I received very specific strokes from him
about how open and loving and welcoming I was becoming. (Image: Bliss Bunny distributing sweetness and light). When he found out I had been attending satsang, his response was, "Ah, I *knew* something was different!"

I felt the thrill of being recognized by my therapist as someone who was becoming a healthier, more loving person - and all because of my involvement in SY, his chosen path.

This therapist, prior to his involvement in SY, was scrupulous in denying
clients access to information about his personal life. His professional
distance eroded gradually. Early on, if a comment arose during a
conversation at the ashram which even bordered on a "therapy issue," he would quickly absent himself.

When it happened between us one time, I was initially offended, but then I realized (correctly, I might add) that it was inappropriate for me to converse with him at the ashram (even as a "samskara") some concern on which he and I had worked together.

As time went on, this therapist began to engage in some personal activities
with the community of client-yogis, and a SY "context" developed in my
approach to my work with him. I thought this was OK because this appeared to me to be the most fortuitous marriage, combining all my "inner work" under a mantle of grace. I'm sure I'm not alone among his clients in coming to the conclusion that I would win his approval, be considered an "advanced," if I presented my problems, interpreted my experiences, and reached resolutions ("breakthroughs") within that context.

In order to win and keep approval, I began to hide things about myself from my therapist and others in SY that were, to say the least, "inconsistent" with the teachings, including my doubts about SY.

After all, aren't most issues that arise in therapy mere products of negative thinking or wrong understanding? Psychological well-being took a back seat to "enlightenment" as the goal of therapy. This defeated the purpose of therapy *and* yoga, but how could it *not* happen when a therapist allows his and his client's personal stake in a corrupt cult to become a factor in a therapeutic relationship?


Subj: "Therapy" as "yoga" 2/2
Date: 96-05-22 19:27:45 EDT
From: Cker

It *is* the client's responsibility to be honest in a bona fide therapeutic
relationship. It is the therapist's responsibility to maintain professional
distance. I'll grant that neither of us met our responsibilities in this
situation. But both considerations, and integrity itself, become secondary
when both the client and the therapist are members of a cult which has at its core a conspiracy of silence, a "big lie." Both my therapist and I, heavily
invested in SY, agreed by our complicity and lack of honest inquiry to
respect the code out of loyalty to the master.

My therapist used to be a master at pointing out when and with whom I was
being manipulative, but he was unable to see it within the context of SY.

I dare say there are few more effective disguises that can be assumed by a client to protect his neuroses than cult-think that the client knows he
shares with the therapist.

It happened, in my case at least, that the demonstration of improvements in "understanding," rather than the resolution of psychological issues, became the measure of progress in my "therapy."

As I learned the jargon of the spiritual path, it became easier and easier to manipulate the process. In fact, it was a new version of the "performance" game I'd been playing all my life.

I had found a shortcut around real issues that my previously very
discerning therapist could not detect.

People (at least in SY) thought I was a very nice person to be around. And I was - for them. *Living* with me, now *that* was (and is, I'll admit!) a
different story.

The contrast between my "yogi" self (reserved mostly for SY
events) and my "bhogi" self (the side not as guarded about my flaws, which
also swears when angry and includes meat in the definition of "prasad")
became painfully obvious even to me. I spent tremendous energy, and became irritable, anxious, and guilt-ridden, trying to maintain this facade.

My family was painfully good at pointing out my inconsistencies. One time, I explained to my seven-year-old that we had to clean his bedroom because the Mandali was coming and this person, who would take over his room for the duration (thereby infusing the very coils of his mattress with shakti) was "special."

Without hesitation, he replied, "But, I'm special too." To this
day, his remark pains me. Talk about "duality"!

"Exit counseling"? Fagetabotit. If you leave the cult you share with your
therapist-father, you lose him *and* your guru-mother, guru-grandfather,
guru-great-grandfather, and all your guru-sisters, -brothers, -cousins, and
-aunts and -uncles, Death might seem preferable, and apparently might be at least threatened if your leaving is enough of an embarrassment, if you consider the experience of Michael Dinga as described to Lis Harris.

I'll wager that "Maintaining the Illusion of Professional Distance,"
euphemistically titled of course, will be a major topic at the conference
this summer. Forgive me for this gut-spilling, but when I contemplate the
issues raised in this forum, I find that the most effective way for me to
endorse the truth is to relate how it happened to me.
Subj: therapy - NOT
Date: 96-05-23 03:47:13 EDT
From: Dissent222

Dear CKer -

Your account of therapy with a syda recruiter is pretty chilling. The old
fashioned phrase is "contamination" of the therapeutic relationship, which is
apt here, I think. I imagine this therapist you mention subtly pushing syda
like a drug-pusher. "here take this, you'll feel better - take some more -
more - ahh! now you're hooked" And the therapist office becomes an opium den.

Of course, therapists who recruit lots of dakshina-forking-out clients get
brownie points - they might even get to speak publicly at a syda conference
about their success story. "How I Manipulated and Subtly Controlled My
Clients With a Covert System of Rewards and Punishments Based on Their
Professed Devotion To My Guru - And How Doing So Brought Me Special Attention From the Guru, Further Reinforcing My Narcissism".

They left that off the conference brochure, but it still reads loud and clear.

I hope someone reading this goes incognito to the therapist conference this
summer - July 20-21 - and reports back. Because I bet GM's talk to introduce the conference will follow the typical pattern of all her recruitment and maintenance talks: icky sweet seductive stuff to start; then bash everyone
present by referring to how inadequate they are and how badly they do their lives; then suggest how to solve that problem - by giving much much more to the guru, including giving her more recruits. When a therapist is so seduced and duped and manipulated himself, by the syda rewards and punishments system, what can s/he really be offering her/his clients?

Subj: Cker's therapy
Date: 96-05-23 08:45:23 EDT
From: Fibonacci8

Cker wrote,

<< In order to win and keep approval, I began to hide
things about myself from my therapist and others in SY
that were, to say the least, "inconsistent" with the
teachings, including my doubts about SY. >>

In this situation, who was providing therapy for whose anxiety? Clearly,
your behavior was a form of therapy for your therapist's anxiety which he had transformed, syda-style, into denial. In an implicit way he must have let you know that he needed you to help him, while you paid him to participate in that relationship.

Did you ever wonder who needed therapy more, you or your therapist? His
psychic neediness led him to the magic kingdom before he recruited you, and apparently he remains lost within it after you've left. You never required falseness from him, while he clearly required it of you. You came to him with your perceived need for therapy but you were and are, clearly, the more real person. You are much farther along the road of the *real* sadhana than he is. I think recognizing that will lead to more human dignity than anything he gave you.

Too bad you can't send him a bill for your therapeutic services.

Subj: SYDA Therapy
Date: 96-05-24 07:26:24 EDT
From: BVena

Just a note about my ex SYDA therapist. Oddly, a dreadful illness could be
saving people from an abhorrent nightmare. He tells his HIV positive clients
"The ashram is not for sick people." He is also the person GM sends "New"
people to if they ask questions about being gay in the darshan line. I can't
imagine that there would be a problem here, could you? Think about someone you view as God sending you away because you are unclean. This is consistent with the general lunacy, but ethical? OOPS, I mentioned ethics and UberGuruMayi in the same post. Any ACT UP members lurking out there?

Subj: more therapy 1 of 2
Date: 96-05-24 08:04:39 EDT
From: Dissent222

Dear CKer -

I'm still mind-blown by your description of the unethical, unprofessional
practices of the NY syda-devotee therapist you described in your 2-part post.

At least he isn't the NY syda-therapist who also invites folks to her
channeling sessions, where her 19th century English lady personality, by some strange coincidence, speaks in Gurumayi quotations. The fact that this therapist was a wannabe actress years ago might account for her "Importance of Being Earnest" stage mannerisms.

You've made so many very important points, I'd like to comment on a few:

>" When I later began participating in SY, I received very specific strokes
from him about how open and loving and welcoming I was becoming. (Image: Bliss Bunny distributing sweetness and light). When he found out I had been attending satsang, his response was, "Ah, I *knew* something was different!" I felt the thrill of being recognized by my therapist as someone who was becoming a healthier, more loving person - and all because of my involvement in SY, his chosen path."<

So the therapist, who is acting as a procurer for his guru, abuses his power
over his clients by rewarding them for their compliance and accomodation.

In other words, by rewarding their adoption of a false self and encouraging the sequestering of their true self.

In this way, the syda-therapist fulfills his mission to recruit more devotees and enhances his status as a favored person in the ashram, who gets strokes from the guru. That is, if the clients he recruits are attractive middle-class types with some money to spend, or else the willingness to do plenty of slayva. (slayva is a pun on 'seva'-syda jargon for unpaid grunt work)

WOW. Isn't that precisely why so many seek therapy - because they had nochoice as children but to learn to comply and accomodate, and had to hide their true self in the process? But in your scenario, as you struggle to
find and express your true self, you run up against a false self therapist
who trains you, once again, to hide the true self and display the false,
accomodating self - as Fibs put it, to meet the therapist's requirements.
What a sad, sad mess.

>"In order to win and keep approval, I began to hide things about myself from my therapist and others in SY that were, to say the ast, "inconsistent"
with the teachings, including my doubts about SY. After all, aren't most
issues that arise in therapy mere products of negative thinking or wrong
understanding? Psychological well-being took a back seat o "enlightenment"as the goal of therapy. "<

If a therapist encourages clients to think that the issues that arise in
therapy are mere products of negative thinking or wrong understanding, he is not a therapist, he is a moralizer, a teacher, and a person who has not dared to face himself in a real or full way. He might as well just be saying, "oh that's hogwash, get over it." Or "don't think about that today - think about that tomorrow - after you've given more dakshina and done more slayva. After all, tomorrow is another day."

see part 2

Subj: more therapy 2 of 2
Date: 96-05-24 08:05:29 EDT
From: Dissent222

part 2

Issues that arise in therapy should be carefully explored and elaborated and permitted to emerge from hiding. The meaning of the issue, what function it has served, why it has been needed, how it came to be established - this is what the therapist slowly and empathically helps illuminate.

The therapist should not be speaking from a place of higher power and authority (that is not what his training confers), not be offering rewards and punishments for compliance, not making moralistic judgments by dismissing issues with the slogan "wrong understanding". As obvious as this may be, it's just a sad fact of life that there are many incompetent therapists who do exactly these things and make a bundle.

The issue here is relationship: the syda therapist, trained to keep eyes
strained upward at all times, gazing up at the guru, is not looking at his
client. The client, like all of us who come to therapy, wants to try to
understand and heal and develop the ability to be in fuller, truer
relationship to self and others. Getting trained to dismiss issues as "wrong
understanding", and to mask the pain of isolation and aloneness by focusing
instead on looking up at the guru, is a tragic, cruel distortion and
manipulation of the therapeutic process.

">My therapist used to be a master at pointing out when and with whom I was being manipulative, but he was unable to see it within the context of SY. I dare say there are few more effective disguises that can be assumed by a client to protect his neuroses than cult-think that the client knows he shares with the therapist."<

How manipulative this therapist is. Pointing out your manipulativeness while
steadily manipulating you to fulfill his needs, allay his anxiety, give him
what he wants - the feeling that he's a good therapist with the power to win
recruits and influence people. Whatever talent and motive this therapist may have had has become badly distorted by the syda game.

Forgive me if I'm belaboring all this, but CKer, your posts really struck a
nerve. Being a therapist is hard work, it means inviting, tolerating and
containing intense feeling. If a therapist becomes frightened and anxious
about his own feelings that are triggered by working with clients, he might
seek a short-cut to numbness - and many therapists drink or do drugs or have sex with clients as part of their avoidance and control routines.

And others do SYDA with their clients. As syda devotees, a part of us always knew that by gazing up at the guru, we were denigrating and isolating ourselves - and were caught in a trap. The "bliss of devotion to the guru" is a mask - worn by therapists, swamis, darshan panel members, center leaders, ashram managers - - that is worn to hide one's fear, numbness, emptiness and feeling of being trapped.

A therapist wearing the SYDA mask will be the blind leading the blind.

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Re: The downside of yoga
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 14, 2012 11:34PM

Nearly forgot. Here is information about a co ed Naked Yoga class. Dunno if its still being offered. This two posts were from 2008. To get the live URLs click on the thread.



The Anticult wrote:

I don't know, call me old fashioned, but this sounds like a Swingers club for urban yuppies.
Well these folks know how to sell the people what they want.

Nicole Daedone: Founder, OneTaste™ Urban Retreat and Insight Institute
Taste of Sex - Reality Audio

Under Nicole’s guidance, One Taste quickly made its mark in San Francisco as the first studio to offer co-ed naked yoga...

Daedone left her career as owner of a successful art gallery in San Francisco and began a spiritual path that started with the study of theosophy. After three years, Nicole realized she no longer wanted to practice a discipline that omitted sensuality. She segued into the sensual realm in 1998 when she joined a community that practiced and studied the teachings of Dr. Victor Baranco, founder of More University. More University focused on the practice of expanded orgasm.

As an undergraduate at San Francisco State, she had studied under Dr. Dean Barnlund, an early collaborator of philosopher Alan Watts. During that time, she became intrigued with the nature of consciousness and motivations of the ego that shape it. In the decade after leaving theosophy, she began integrating what she learned in sensuality with that garnered from Buddhism, semantics, Kabbalah and traditional Judaism.

Daedone’s strength lies in her willingness to explore all aspects of the human experience, from the profane to the sacred, and view everything as divine. She encourages students to explore all parts of themselves, to reveal what they hold inside to the outer world. Whether they label sensation as good or bad; as desire, obsession, jealousy, anger or embarrassment, to exclude nothing felt by the body, to embrace every experience and feel gratified by it all. The OneTaste™ Urban Retreat Center is run by a community of nearly 50 practitioners who are researching and documenting their experiences in sensuality.


(By The Anticult)

on a very serious note, Victor Baranco is in the title of this book called MINDFUCKERS from 1972.
The "One Taste" group ain't about naked co-ed yoga folks...

Mindfuckers: A Source Book on the Rise of Acid Fascism in America, Including Material on Charles Manson, Mel Lyman, Victor Baranco, and Their Followers

The publisher may have tried to conceal it with that faux-gothic font, but this book is indeed called Mindfuckers. Appropriate title it is, too, given that it's about Charles Manson, the too-little-known Mel Lyman, and others who engaged in mind control and crime in the sixties.

Mindfuckers, a source book on the rise acid fascism in America including material on Charles Manson, Mel Lyman, Victor Baranco and their followers by David Felton, Robin Green and David Dalton.
These three characters "assumed god-like authority and used such mindfucking techniques as physical and verbal bullying, group humiliation and chemical alteration of brain cells. Which takes us to the book's subtitle." The subtitle, Felton explains, is "a kind of historical label, it refers to the host of rigid teacher-oriented communities-- both Jesus and non-Jesus --that have sprouted up across the land with the drug revolution." The chapters on Mel Lyman and Baranco is surely still indispensible...

Cult groups, Brainwashing, Mind control, brainwashing, Journalism, Hippies, sixties, Trial,

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Re: The downside of yoga
Posted by: grainne uaile ()
Date: March 16, 2012 10:21PM

Here is my book review:

A friend of mine had read the New York Times article and informed me that the author of this book had said that yoga causes sexual desires to increase and that this is the reason why gurus are sleeping around. I felt that finally I had my answer because I had wanted to know why so-called celibate gurus slept around with their disciples.

Well, it did and it didn't answer that question: Just because Hatha Yoga increases sexual desire doesn't make you desire to sleep with everyone who appeals to you. But the other question is this? What is a celibate guru doing by practicing Hatha Yoga in the first place when it increases his sex drive? Most monks that I have known in Zen Buddhism eat tofu to suppress their sex drive; they don't practice Hatha Yoga. But that is Zen, which is not a guru system based on sex. Of course one or two Zen traditions do practice tantric sex.

As Broad pointed out, Hatha Yoga came from a sex cult--tantric. In the tantric tradition sex is used to reach enlightenment, but as I have learned through my own research, only special students are initiated into this willingly, while some are coerced; some forced. But Broad doesn't really go into this aspect of it. I am, because now, from reading his book, I believe that the tantric tradition alone causes gurus to stray, so to speak, since gurus may not consider themselves to be straying. It is built into a system where enlightenment is based on sex, so the reason for practicing Hatha. My new question is this: Does meditation cause an increase in sexual desire? It didn't me, and I had practiced for over 12 years without any harm. Of course, neither did Hatha as it just gave me a pain in my neck, so actually I didn't last long enough to find out.

Broad wrote: "Spiritually, the objective of the yogi was to achieve a blissful state of consciousness in which the male and female aspects of the universe merged into a realization of oneness. That union (the word "yoga: means union) resulted in enlightenment. But a main path was sexual ecstasy-a veiled part of the agenda that modern research has recently uncovered." This is the answer to my question.

Recently uncovered? Gurus have been doing this for centuries and sex cults existed from the beginning of time. Are we all just learning about it? Well, I only recently learned about it a year ago and left Tibetan Buddhism as a result, because this teaching is taught by the lamas and was to be kept secret. It took a photo to open my eyes--a photo of a woman on a Buddha's lap having sex. That is when I questioned my teacher, was lied to and so bought the book, Kalacakra Tantra (A Commentary On The) by Geshe Lharampa Ngawang Dhargyey, who, by the way, was a student of the Dalai Lama and was sent to America by him to teach tantric sex. Anyway, this book opened my eyes. I was shocked; I left Tibetan Buddhism.

Then I began reading other books on tantric teachings in order expose the teachings because I wanted to let women and men know what they could be getting into by joining these religions. And since then I have come to know men and women personally who have been raped by lamas and of a woman who took her children out of an ashram because they were being sexually abused by her loving guru. And I may as well add this: children in Tibet and India are used in this sexual practice by lamas as well. They are given to them by their parents. And if they don't comply they are given sweets or alcohol. When the lamas are finished with them due to their age, they are tossed out and often become prostitutes.

Jung had stated: "Kundalini strikes at the very roots of human existence and can let loose a flood of sufferings of which no sane person ever dreamed." It is good that Broad mentions this but this doesn't just pertain to Hatha Yoga; it also pertains to meditation. The dangers of meditation, like Hatha Yoga, have been kept secret. Websites like DowntheCrookedPath and others have exposed this, but not without much flak from others who deny it.

No one wants to lose their job by telling students that yoga is dangerous, and this includes gurus who don't wish to lose disciples by informing them of the dangers. So People have to find out on their own, but maybe through this book of Broad's, people will now learn of the dangers beforehand, that is, if the yoga teachers don't reach them first by claiming that this book was poorly written and adding, "What does Broad know?"

I have been in several meditation groups, and not one guru ever told us of the dangers of meditation, and when a student committed suicide or just went insane, the guru states: "It was their karma," meaning, "They deserved it." And other disciples just agree with them. No one really thinks that meditation alone causes harm. Many think that these people were just unbalanced before they started meditation. But Dr. Margaret Singer, PhD., a psychologist who wrote the book "Cults in Our Midst" wrote of the dangers of meditation, saying that many who came to her did not have insanity in themselves or in their family. Well, they did now.

But remember, it is just your karma to end up harmed by these religions. Such is the world of Eastern teachings where people are nothing but karma and where compassion is taught but not often practiced.

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Re: The downside of yoga
Posted by: good enough ()
Date: March 26, 2012 12:07AM

I came across this and thought I'd share.


“The Downside to Down Dog” by Kelly Grey.

This is one of the best stories I’ve ever read about Yoga, no, make that “one of the best stories I’ve ever read, period.” It’s a little long for an Elephant blog, but I encourage you to take the time to really enjoy it.

Kelly’s story originally appeared in Yoga in America: In the Words of Some its Most Ardent Teachers. Publisher Deborah Berstein has generously made the entire book available free online and encouraged me to post selected chapters here on Elephant. Thanks, Deborah! We are grateful.

The Downside to Down Dog

by Kelly Grey

“Neti Neti” is a practice in Jnana Yoga–a way of discerning the real from the unreal. In my yoga practice of 25 plus years, I have mostly discovered what is not yoga. And, I have tried just about everything, from living in the more austere ashrams (where you need special letters from your guru and years of service to their ashram to be allowed in, and they still may tell you to go away) to devoting my life to the “spiritual mother”.

I have stood on the banks of the Ganges, the Colorado and complete insanity. I have chanted the 1008 names of the mother and sat on rooftops in South India chanting the Maha Mrytunjaya mantra 108 times every morning and every evening for months on end.

I have reached my goal of completing 2nd series in Astanga yoga, only to wonder why, and I spent 8 years doing Bikram yoga every day, hating almost every minute of it (for at least the first 4 years), just trying to find my feet.

I have stood on my head, high on hashish and lain in the dirt channeling Neem Karoli Baba while I was stoned on mushrooms. For days after, I walked barefoot all over the dirt fields surrounding my house singing “ma, ma, ma, ma….” and laughing, and laughing and laughing.

I have been yelled at by swamis, cast out of spiritual groups, shunned by “yogis” and have lain on the stone floor of the Kali Temple in Trivandrum, India, sobbing and shaking for days, realizing that everything I was chasing was the unreal.

About eight years back, I had it all–everything I had been pursuing, desiring. I had a thriving yoga studio, I had students who respected me, and I had my rituals, my guru, my community, my faith. The man I had been waiting for all my life walked into it finally, asked me to marry him, asked me to have a life together, to teach with him and to travel to India.

We lived in my little one room solar house, hidden down a long dirt road, taught yoga classes together, made love, dreamed. I followed him to the UK to live, excited about the possibility of starting a whole new chapter in my life and I reconnected and reaffirmed my commitment to my spiritual teacher at that time, very intent on serving her and her work in the world.

And as all good stories go, it all fell apart, started to unravel… dissolve. I had the man I wanted and loved and I wasn’t happy. I had the faith and the roots of yoga deeply set in me from this life and many lifetimes of practice, and I lost my faith.

I stood in a sweaty little room in Mysore, India, day after day, practicing one of my favorite practices of Hatha yoga –Astanga vinyasa, and while in Chakrasana, Sheshadri, my teacher, crawled under me, picked me up by my feet and swung me up and down over and over, before landing me on my feet (dizzy and shocked) for the 50th time that month, and I just kept asking myself “why?”. What was the point? I had gotten really solid in both 1st and 2nd series (as many of you know, no easy feat) and I could care less.

I sat with my Scottish friend later that day in the courtyard, drinking masala chai and with his lovely accent and brilliant smile, he laughed a big rolling laugh and talked of the irony, how we as westerners come to one of the most screwed up countries in the world looking for enlightenment.

The next day, that too familiar, uncontrollable sobbing and shaking set in. For several years I had been experiencing long bouts of endless crying and shaking and heat and pain in my body so intense at times I would actually pass out from it. I wandered up to an Osho center, walked in, wild eyed, still racked with pain and told the man behind the desk that I needed something, anything, now!

Osho was known for his wilder side and more active meditations and this man suggested that we do the “No Mind” meditation. He took me into the back room, put on a tape and we spent the next 40 minutes pacing and gesturing and talking in complete gibberish. After this, a gong sounded and we were to sit silent for 15 minutes and then lie in savasana for another 15.

In all my years of yoga and meditation practice, I had never experienced my mind so completely empty, where I could actually watch the words trying to form, unable to, and the energy behind the words slowly trying to rise and build.

After we finished, the man told me how foolish he thought westerners were, traveling half way around the world, in often hard circumstances, wasting so much money searching for meaning in life. Before I left the center, he told me to go home, plant a garden, have a family, do simple work, be content.

Instead I wandered through India some more, through temples and holy towns and the dirt and the heat until I found myself way down at the southern tip of Kerala, lying on the stone floor of the Kali Temple sobbing, while a very intense priest chanted the names of the mother and bathed and adorned her in her many forms.

The heat in my body was unbearable at that time and lying on that floor day after day, crying was the only relief I could find. I loved the temple and the priest who sang and yet some words of Osho kept creeping back into my mind and heart. He said to be wary of the priests, the politicians and the gurus.

Ultimately, he believed that the gurus and priests were the ones that would keep you from entering the temple (your own true self) because they would tell you that you needed them to arrive. You needed their rituals, their darshana, their blessings. He believed that these gurus would delude you into thinking you were soooo close, only steps from entering the temple and yet as long as you kept your eyes focused on them, you would always miss it.

I was struggling with this idea because I had a guru back home that I knew to be genuine, the real deal, and I was very devoted to her and her life work. When I arrived back in the states, I threw myself into her “work” even more. Finding myself a bit discouraged with intense austerities and Hatha yoga, I moved toward gentler forms and devoted my time to Ayurveda and karma yoga–service.

I soon found myself ‘hand-picked’ by the guru among a few others to serve her on a deeper level. I was to help spread “the work” around the country and most likely beyond. We were told the time, the people, were ripe to receive this profound work and that we were so karmicly blessed to be in her presence in such an intimate environment.

Two years later and thousands and thousands of dollars later, after leaving a relationship and choosing not to have children (because it might interfere with my service to her and the world) and completely revamping all of my teachings to be solely in alignment with her program (in other words not being able to read a Hafiz poem during a class I was teaching for her because it might be conflictual) I was told by one of her devotees (because guru was too busy) that the whole program was to be dropped, that it was all our fault and that we were to cancel all future scheduled programs immediately.

At that time I had eight programs scheduled throughout the country, one that was to start in less than two weeks. One week before I got that phone call, I had received a phone call from the same devotee telling me that I was doing exceptional work, that I was to go forward with all of my programs and was given “blessings” from the guru.

Having the “rug pulled out from under” is an understatement. How about completely shattered, disillusioned and grief stricken? How about having my faith so completely demolished that I couldn’t watch a clip of the Dalai Llama without being suspicious of his “real” motives? How about the kind of heartbreak that you don’t really ever recover from, but you just simply move forward with a few pieces missing?

The most disturbing part that I could not resolve was that this was the woman who gave lecture after lecture about accountability only to completely dismiss us and her own actions with the wave of her robes and titles.

I was once told by a friend and fellow yogini, when I was first opening my yoga studio, that it would be the ugliest business I would ever get involved with. While other businesses are more upfront with their motives (money and power), the yoga community ended up hiding behind the words “namaste” and “we are all one”, while still having the very human emotions of greed and fear rolling around inside, dictating actions.

Since opening that studio I have been threatened, yelled at and lied to more times than I care to remember. I had a famous teacher’s nephew contact me under the pretense of “networking” while he was really trying to get information from me so they could threaten to sue me (for teaching a practice I was certified to teach in).

I had another teacher, whose idea of meditation (as she put it) was sitting in an easy chair with a bong in one hand and a martini in the other, come into my studio and start getting both teachers and students high. During that time I was contracted to teach yoga to kids in a recovery center just outside of town and somehow this same woman manipulated the situation and took over, getting me fired because I wasn’t “yogic” in my thinking, because I refused to work with her, because she was smoking hash on her way to teach kids in recovery.

I was told that we as yogis should always be peaceful and get along. When I eventually sold my studio, I did it as honestly as I could, asking for the price I truly wanted and knew to be fair. I was met by a couple who served me tea, talked Vedanta and peace and then offered me a ridiculously low offer (the used car salesman technique) and then eventually came up a little because they really believed I deserved so much more.

It was still way under my asking price but I was moving on, committed to my guru and I needed the money to invest into her trainings, so I took it. Two years later, I found out they were selling the studio for at least eight times the original offer I got.

I was asked to teach at a Vedanta center and then was told I couldn’t because I had also studied under another teacher (along with them) and they felt it was conflictual. Both my teachers were Vedanta teachers (you know–NONDUALISM) but both deeply believed the other to be controversial.

My friend was right–an ugly business. And the words Neti neti repeat again and again as I wander through this experience called “yoga”. Not this, Not this.

And then the question is “what IS yoga?”. Mostly I write what is not.

I don’t believe it to be the woman in robes preaching ahimsa and accountability and then not being accountable–someone who is more invested in her status than in truth.

I don’t believe it to be in the devotees who are so invested in their status (being close to the guru) that they ignore or close eyes to the hypocrisies and conflictual events that almost always arise, excusing it because we simply cannot understand the real motives of a guru or enlightened one. In my journey, my walk, on this earth we are all human and we are all accountable.

I don’t believe it to be in the yoga teacher who postures himself as the authority of your body (not much different than today’s western doctors) and tells 55 year old women what menopause is like.

I don’t believe it to be in the yoga superstars, the tantric sex gurus or even the austere ashrams (where I was very inappropriately hit on by two swamis and a bramachari and a Reiki master).

I don’t believe it’s in the ads, the new yoga tights, the namaste bumper stickers or the new approved herbal remedies that are 90 percent grape juice and less than 2 percent herbs.

I do believe it to be in the honest moments, the hard and the gritty and the beautiful. The moments where a man who loves you cares for you while you are sick and heartbroken because you followed a spiritual teacher that simply had a bad moment and can’t own it.

I believe it to be in the Mexican mother-in-law who knows absolutely nothing about yoga and is a bit overweight and struggles with her health, but has handmade tamales waiting for you every morning for breakfast simply because she found out you love tamales.

I believe it to be in this little back alley road, in an old gutted house with no electricity and wood floors that slope off and splinter, where people come every Wednesday night to offer a bit of a donation and chant and move and laugh together.

I believe it is the beauty and love and patience I see in my dog’s eyes every time I get so busy and wrapped up in teaching and work that we don’t have time for a walk.

I would much rather perfect my heart, to unravel and travel its depths, its unknowns and terrifying void and speak from that place, laugh from that place, love from that place, than spend the next 20 years perfecting my triangle or arguing about whether it should be five complete breaths in down dog before jumping back to forward bend or is it the exhale on the fifth breath where we jump.

Carlos Castaneda’s teacher Don Juan told him once that there is no path really, only heart. So basically, we can follow any old path we want and it will lead us nowhere. And if you follow a heartless path, that is all it will be. But if we follow the path with heart, then, when the day comes and we realize there is no path, we will have at least followed the heart.

Many years back, a beautiful Italian friend of mine died from AIDS. This woman knew five languages and had traveled the world studying with gurus, living in ashrams, practicing yoga and meditation. She was a body worker and healer and had gone through many forms of training in counseling.

In her last days, too sick to walk or run or stand on her head, she found so much joy in sitting on her porch and feeding the squirrels. She had also been an amazing cook, but could no longer cook for herself and so loved to at least feed someone still.

The day she died she wanted two things. She wanted to see her old boyfriend, a love of her life, one last time, and she wanted him to make her Tiramisu. She wasn’t looking for the key on how to do a perfect triangle.

The question is “What is yoga?” I believe the more appropriate question is what is your heart? Your voice? Your essence? What is your love, your deepest most personal truth?

We are all here together, to help one another, to grow, or as Ram Dass says, to provide grist for the mill. But when it comes down to it, in the end, I believe yoga (which means union) to be so deeply personal, that anyone or anything or any idea that stands between you and the temple should simply be removed.

Kelly Grey

Kelly Grey grew up on the east coast and wandered out west early on to find her home in the desert. She has been teaching, practicing and studying yoga since she was 15 years old, starting with TM and chanting with the Hare Krishnas on the Washington lawn, after getting kicked out of the Smithsonian for having no shoes.

She has advanced certification in Sivananda Yoga and as an Ayurvedic Practitioner and teacher. She studied Bikram Yoga and Astanga yoga intensively and is a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist. She is also a licensed massage therapist and Reiki master and received certification in India in Pancha Karma therapies and Abhyanga.

Kelly opened up and ran Yoga Shala in Arizona for eight years and started many programs still existing today in the local community colleges, private colleges and health clubs.

Her love is the river. Her guru is her dog, Penny Lane.

Kelly may be contacted at

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Re: The downside of yoga
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 26, 2012 09:33AM

And here is the bummer.

The two 'teachers quoted by the author of the article above, Don Juan Matu and Osho

Osho was formerly Rajneesh, the dude who owned all the Rolls Royces, and who moved his ashram to Oregon and whose aides and devotees tried to skew the local election in their favor by seeing a local salad bar with Salmonella bacteria. He lived in terror from AIDS and required all applicants to his ashram to get medical proof of being HIV negative. To this day, Indians who live in Pune/Poona often feel shame ridden at the infamy that Rajneesh brough to their city.

Don Juan Matus was the fictional creation of Carlos Castaneda, who ran a viciously cruel cult, and who treated his women intimattes horribly, dared to refer to sufferers from cancer as 'losers' but who concealed his own final illness and miserable death from liver cancer.

This and more is documented in Amy Wallace's memoir Sorcerer's Apprentice, My Life With Carlos Castaneda and on the Sustained Action website, run by survivors of Tensegrity, Castaneda's cult.

To see how messed up India is, get and read Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found by Suketu Mehta. He met myriads of well placed Indians who were desperate to move to the UK and the US - from their perspective, Indian government had utterly broken down.

He met assassins who worked for different gangs. One knew of a man who killed another man just for the price of some roofing material. The Hindu assassins tried to make sense of their 'black collar' work quoting the Bhagavad Gita.

The Muslims tried to make sense of their black collar work, citing their own texts.

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