“Pervy Yoga Instructor FAIL” practicing “inverted lotus fondle” via our pal Jeffrey, who tipped us to this photo I’m identifying as no less than the venerated, late, occasionally controversial Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois—the founder of Ashtanga Yoga—himself. Via Failblog.com.
It’s tough—there’s been some lawsuits when yoga teachers (remember the “Graspin’ Aspen” yoga teacher) (ab)use their power, auhoritative position and trust to “touch” students in inappropriate ways—but the line between…
…genuine adjustment (which can be very intimate, crossing the line of what is “normal” and yet still be appropriate within the context of yoga)
…flirtation (can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen “pretty” students get more attention in classes)
…inappropriate violation of one’s boundaries (even here, there’s a litigation-confusing line between what’s appropriate in Indian and Western cultures)
…is rarely clear. That said, I’m a schlubby bloke, and no one ever touches me inappropriately (though experiencing other schlubby guys lean their bodies on my rare in downdog is…a unique experience), so I really wouldn’t know. I do know that I love getting adjustments, they change my practice and even open up my entire life, a bit. I remember one of the first classes I ever took with Richard Freeman, I was sweating and trying as hard as I could to do a backbend…and suddenly he was standing over me, put his hands under me on my shoulder blades, gently lifted up, and an in-rush of air changed my world—I opened up, if only for a moment, my still, stale heart.
My opinion: the student generally knows when the line her or his line is getting crossed, and can judge whether that crossing is welcome (if they’re flirting back) or not at all welcome (the vast majority of the time). That said, before taking yoga class into the courtroom, it’s best to give the benefit of the doubt.
You might, however. What’s appropriate? What’s inappropriate? And who’s to judge?