Teachers, Keep it in Your Pants.

Via Kelly Morris
on Mar 1, 2012
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My answer to the sex question is simple.

Six years ago, I stopped seeing male clients.

Invariably, they’d ask me out, often while their wife was in the next room. When I informed an unmarried private client that I didn’t date students, he promptly replied “You’re fired. I’ll pick you up at 8.”

At the time, the invitation was flattering. Older, French-Argentine, wealthy, powerful, charismatic and handsome. Anyone with an unresolved father issue was going to jump on that. Later, after therapy and cornering the Haagen Daz market, I understood the come-on to be more about power than it ever was about sex. Fortunately, I never slept with him. A warped Catholic, he enjoyed that. Later, I learned he went through yoga, spin and Pilates instructors like tissues.

Twice, social acquaintances circled back as students, and I dated them. Although I am friends with both now, the power imbalance at the time was palpable. I couldn’t articulate it then and no doubt I chalked it up to my own mesmerizing sexual charisma, but I see now that they were more interested in what I represented as a spiritual teacher than in me as an individual. So I was left as a pedestal-ized figure unable to conduct the relationship as an equal. The discovery that I was a normal person with problems was unwelcome and spelled relationship doom.

Along the way, male teachers hit on me regularly and I received enough assists that screamed “Inappropriate!”to make me go deaf. The first class I ever took class in LA, the teacher taught while simultaneously getting Lisa Bonet’s phone number while she was in downdog. Granted, it’s LA, but still.

As a teacher who learned the hard way, I cannot state strongly enough how wholly antithetical to our humanity these breaches of trust are.  Moreover, when we choose selfishly, it is usually at the expense of women. Not much new or different there. Blaming them is nothing new, either. In some myopic, uneducated yogic circles, they blame ‘karma’ and call it a day. Anything to avoid honest self-assessment. We call this “turning dharma into filth.”

Emotional and spiritual development cannot take place in an unsafe environment. Anyone who comes to a person entrusted with bringing them to a state of health and wholeness, be they a teacher, a priest, a shrink or a doctor, in their precious mind and body deserves physical and emotional safety, at the very least.

Further complicating these breaches is the troubling statistic that that in the U.S., 3 out of 5 women are sexually assaulted by someone they know before the age of 17. For men, the estimates are between 5-10%.  Those women/men are in our classes, ripe to recreate unsatisfactory childhoods and everything that was screwed up about it, all over again. Are we going to meet them at the level their parents did or are we going to actually educate, elevate and eventually, if this is a real yoga experience, liberate?

No doubt these figures are higher, given the reluctance of victims to come forward. As in most families where alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence and child abuse take place, the name of the game is shhhhh, don’t tell anyone and never, ever, under any circumstances, disclose against your parent (or who ever perpetrated the crime). It’s the same in Grown-Up Land; rarely do students, employees, parishioners or patients blow the whistle on their chosen “savior.”

The mental health field identified the unstoppable force of transference—the conflation we make between the person who hurt us most and our new found spiritual savior. In intelligent response, the mental health field enacted explicit prohibitions against sexual contact between patient and practitioner.  The persistence of the repetition compulsion (re-creating Mom and Dad and the rest, ad nauseum until you land on a shrink’s couch or married to your Mom) makes it easy, for any of us, to succumb to the power of these unconscious processes. It’s a very strong pull and it’s why there are laws prohibiting any sexual contact.

In my judgment, any teacher who parleys the sacred trust of a student into his/her own “secret” sex club obviously should not be teaching.  All the posturing about light, love and unicorns not surprisingly betrays an unacknowledged and un-integrated dark side, what Jung coined “the shadow.”

Darkness isn’t the problem; denying it and then acting on it inappropriately is.

While we all deserve forgiveness, premature forgiveness is a close cousin to the Stockholm Syndrome.  People who are dysfunctionally devoted to their teacher refuse to believe that their “guru” can do any real wrong, and thus the culture of sweeping our teachers’ dirt under the collective rug perpetuates itself. We see spiritual communities collapse again and again and yet still people defend their “right” to sleep with their students. With all the fish in the sea…really?

This type of catastrophe happens all the time when western ideas of ‘freedom’ collide with eastern theologies that espouse deference as a model for growth. In Tibet, if a monk was caught doing anything remotely out of line, he would be expelled from his community. His parents would have to make back-breaking restitution in order for him to return. We don’t have a cultural system of checks and balances in the West. Here, the party line is “Don’t tell me what to do. I am an adult (as if a true adult would ever take advantage of a weaker person) and she/he is a consenting adult and that’s the end of that.”

There is no such thing as consensual in a relationship predicated on a power inequity. Period. Whether it’s your boss, your shrink, your guru, political leader, your rabbi or your priest, each one has a sacred duty to say “Tom/Sally, put your clothes back on. Now.”

Open discussion of the pros (What are they, again? Oh yes, sleep with me and get closer the God.) and cons, personally and professionally, for both students and teachers is crucial.  In my own program, Conquering Lion Yoga, we recently invited John Merz, Priest-In-Charge of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island to join the faculty to educate my trainees on the ethics of student/teacher relations. No priest cracks, please, many are better versed given the ongoing scandals faced by the Catholic Church.  For me, given my strong feelings on this issue, this is very exciting and I’d like it to be a part of every teacher training program. It would be nice if there was at least one place in the world where sleeping your way to power wasn’t an option.

And for teachers who want the “right” to sleep with their students, maybe they should have a waiver form students sign before taking your class. The waiver could say something like “I understand that I am wearing tight spandex with my ass in the air with 50 other (mostly) women and that while I am there to get my spiritual on, I understand that the teacher is going to be evaluating both my practice and how fuckable I am.” And if the women are down with that, let the party begin. Otherwise, do the job you were hired to do and teach yoga.

But please know this: on three separate occasions, I asked a class of 50 students to write down on a piece of paper anonymously the worst thing that ever happened to them. I then read each one out loud to the class. By the 15th confession, the room was crying, men and women. Overwhelmingly, the papers described sexual abuse at the hands of a loved one and every single person in that room understood immediately the sacred nature of our shared space and experience.

I suggest to any teacher who feels his or her mat be a ‘grey area’ to try this in their next class and see for yourself the historical content in the room. Its sad, vulnerable and needs defending, not exploiting.

~ Kelly Morris

~

Editor: Kate Bartolotta

 

 

5,167 views

About Kelly Morris

Kelly Morris is unapologetically, famously frank, jacked up on compassion. Like no other yoga teacher you’ve ever seen. Founder of the renowned Conquering Lion Yoga Teacher Training Program/NYC. New York Magazine: “Best Of” 3 Years in a row. New York Times and Yoga Journal: “One of NYC’s foremost teachers.” Loved by celebrities, beginners, and advanced students alike. Kelly Morris blows the mind, rocks the body and opens the heart. Every time.

Comments

92 Responses to “Teachers, Keep it in Your Pants.”

  1. Provocateur says:

    Thanks for the lucid and honest advice, Geshe Roach should consider taking you up on it.

  2. Stewart J. Lawrence says:

    You mean the Great Buddha Armani of Manhattan? http://www.nypost.com/pagesixmag/issues/20100211/

    The only thing you forgot to mention is that after secretly pairing with one of his students, Christine McNally, in violation of his vows, she got bored after a a decade and started bonking another one of their devoted students, who had functioned as a private manservant to them both!

    Apparently Armani Man and McNally are still teaching together? Gosh, we are Fam-i-leeee!

  3. loups says:

    I agree with Kelly almost all points here. But John Friend was NOT in a "secret sex club". It was a legitimate Wiccan coven with many members…unfortunately John made the egregious error of sleeping with two of those members. But to phrase it like this implies that all the members were having sex as part of the coven practices which is definitely slander, definitely untrue and defames all of the members of the coven, some of whom are your well-respected colleagues.

  4. trueayurveda says:

    Wonderfully said!! Thank you.

  5. catherine says:

    How devastating it is to have someone you look up to, take advantage of you sexually! "Premature forgiveness is close cousins with the Stockholm Syndrome"( when you identify with the enemy!) is brilliant. Btw, do those teachers get their pensions or don't they?

  6. Stewart J. Lawrence says:

    Ms. Morris, I liked your piece – a lot. One small comment – and qualm – on statistics. I don't really think you can sustain the figure that "3 in 5 women" have been "sexually assaulted" – and by "someone they know" – by the age of 17. I think the right figure might be – might be – in the area of 1 in 4, and that wouldn't just be "someone they know." Most studies show that 15-20% of women will experience rape in their lifetime No question, these are terrible statistics, an epidemic even. However, saying 60% is a tad sensationalistic, I think, and probably not necessary to use that figure – unless you have a study to back it up – to make an already compelling case about the pain that many women bring to yoga..

    Also, whether you really need to go out of your way to contrast that unusually high figure to your relatively low male figure is debatable, I think. Especially at a time when science and public health are trying to raise the visibility of sexual abuse of young males – by women, as well as by men. Female sexual abuse – as perpetrators – is still one of the great taboo policy subjects. It's made even more difficult perhaps by the (understandable) desire of women in the public health field to highlight the real extent of male perpetration.

    In the end, in spiritual matters, I tend to favor unity over division. A we-all-suffer and we-all-recover perspective is probably more unifying and nurturing than a me-versus-you gender contest based on (not very good ) statistics. Emotional pain is emotional pain. Thanks again. Honest piece.

  7. Stewart J. Lawrence says:

    Very thought-provoking. Raised a larger issue for me about the viability of transplanting Eastern spiritual concepts that are drawn from such a vastly different social and cultural context to the West. If it's true of "dharma," though, what else might it be true of?

  8. Arlyn says:

    Wow. Wow. Wow. So beautifully said. Poignant, true, and, re: the paragraph about your proposed waiver, really freakin' funny. Respect.

  9. Jake says:

    I haven't heard of this "authentic lineage holder in the gelukpa tradition," but I can see how she might not have trouble getting a date.

  10. Sarah Koh says:

    Oh. My. God. I love you Kelly, you make me laugh and cry all at once. Here with you, looOOOOooOOOOoove.

  11. West says:

    So glad you “get it”! My hope is others, teachers and students, understand why teachers and students can NEVER have “consensual sex”. The unequal relationship prevents the use of the term consensual.

  12. analise says:

    this is the most ridiculous pieces of trash written yet by a yogi in response to the anusara sex cult accusations. kelly morris is beyond egotistical and her opinion of her own obvious sexual charisma (roll eyes now) is so wacky it is hard not to laugh at her. she is clearly writing from her own perspective so we have to take her advice with a grain of salt. she essentially admits she is weak but that does not make every woman in the world weak or unable to be in a room with male students and teachers and not be hit on, oh and that means pretty and hot women too not ugly ones. please kelly you need to get off your high horse and stop acting like you are THE best teacher out there with THE right advice.

  13. apimom says:

    Position of power as a Yoga teacher? Last time I checked if there is such a power position is the fact that I am the paying customer. So in this setting I would be the power house. I also learned to socially say “No, Thank you” not even using those words. I can enjoy a flirt. What is this male bashing in North America when a guy approaches a female. We have done this for millions of years otherwise we would be extinct. Girls, you should be flattert that someone shows interest in you. The incidents that your Yoga teacher holds a gun to your head are quite rare. You can nicely and politely refuse without killing the guy. Most guys are much more shy than you can imagine.

    “I asked a class of 50 students to write down on a piece of paper anonymously the worst thing that ever happened to them. I then read each one out loud to the class. By the 15th confession, the room was crying, men and women”

    Give me a break! Where do you find 50 people that would not get up and leave at this request? The first 15 were wildly abused already? I go to yoga for different reasons, none is to bare my soul to a group of strangers. 50 people neeeeed soul baring? And they are all together in a Yoga class?

    “So I was left as a pedestal-ized figure unable to conduct the relationship as an equal.” Poor you. I believe this is wishful thinking.

    This article is written to get attention – maybe for on-line advertising and marketing reasons. Maybe you spread enough attention need to really encounter the weird situations you write about? If you do not want to get into a situation where you are “forced” to say yes, please stay at home. Pretty good Yoga programs on TV.

    Cheers apimom

  14. hya says:

    Sounds great, but isn't the author teaching for certain "yoga studmuffin's" studio, who is known to have had multiple student relationships? Solid principles, no practical application.

  15. chrispy says:

    Male teacher here, delighted, not trying to get laid – really appreciating where you are coming from – not ever come onto because I make it clear that’s not ok (or I’m simply not attractive!)…

    posted some thoughts on Teaching and the Teacher Student covenant – you might enjoy, check it out:

    http://www.rockstaryoga.us/1/post/2012/02/infatua

    Thanks and praise, excellent thoughts and voice.

  16. bhagat_singh says:

    excellent post, right on and well said – male teacher here, not looking to get laid by my students, looking to teach. haven't really ever gotten to the 'hit-on' point; either I see it coming and steer clear, start out with an obviously asexual nature, or maybe I'm just not that attractive! 😉

    Wrote a post on these thoughts last week – seems you might resonate: http://www.rockstaryoga.us/1/post/2012/02/infatua

    Thanks and praise, appreciate the perspective!

  17. As always extremely clear and coherent. I may not always agree with your views but I always respect them and in this case you are 100% spot on. A little common sense and as you say historical reality go a long way.

  18. Cassandra says:

    i work with men privately and they don't come on to me. maybe they aren't attracted to me, or maybe it's i'm just not projecting sexuality out to them so they aren't trying to get it from me. people don't see things as they are but as they are.

  19. Great article Kelly…thanks for sharing. I agree with the line, "Darkness isn’t the problem; denying it and then acting on it inappropriately is." Really poignant, and so true.

  20. yogijulian says:

    beautifully astute article.

  21. thebabarazzi says:

    Oh, goodness! Thaaaaaaaank you for giving us something to cut up, dissect, refute and write about! I was just wondering what our next article would be in. Now I know! Much obliged.

  22. I once witnessed a rather famous yoga teacher openly molest a student in a packed class during Savasana. He looked up and saw me looking directly at him. He scooted far away immediately.

    I was also molested a number of times by a female yoga teacher.

    The first time it happened I was in such shock I was doubting it had occurred.

    But then it happened again.

    At the third incident, I stopped the class, wrote the teacher a check and never spoke or worked with her again.

  23. john says:

    Get a grip and get over yourself. Love has no bounds. I don’t look to get laid in the class room, but it would be ridiculous to limit where love can be found. I must not be that attractive either as one poster said. I have had no women throw themselves at me in the years I have been teaching. Sensual energy is a part of being. We can celebrate it through the movement of breath and body. That does not give anyone the license to molest or take advantage of anyone male or female. I know countless relationships that have bloomed through the practice. Some are still going others not. You yourself had to have the experience to know it didn’t work for you. Always reach for the highest, you will stumble so you can know how to get up.

  24. I agree up to a point, but as a female bodyworker who is very careful about her boundaries, I still get hit on/inappropriate comments at times. I am comfortable with how I deal with it, but I am also pay close attention to my gut when taking on male clients.

  25. yogasamurai says:

    Ms. Morris, a very good read, and thanks for your honesty! I wrote a comment that was inadvertently deleted and can't recall it with the same nuance but basically what I said was this:

    1) Watch the statistics! Personally, I don't know ANY study that finds that "3 in 5 women" are "sexually molested by age 17," much less by "someone they know." I have seen studies that say 1 in 4, or even 1 in 3, and that includes strangers. If you know of one, let me know. I also see data that says 15-18% of women will be raped in their lifetime. These are horrible figures, an epidemic, no question, but there's no need to over do it?

    2) Likewise, no real need, I think, to minimize the emotional pain of men who are molested – and yes, by women as well as by men – by suggesting that this rate of abuse is so much lower than it is for women (though it is). I say this because science and public policy are trying to catch up in this area, and not simply focus on the sexual abuse of women, as legitimate a focus as that has been up until now.

    Better a "we-all-suffer and we-all-recover" approach, I think, than a "my gender-suffers-more-than-yours" perspective.
    I am speaking as a man, of course, but like Harlan who commented here, my own inappropriate experiences, even in yoga, have all been from women.

    Thanks again!

  26. yogasamurai says:

    Hey John,
    Haven't you heard? Yoga and sex have NOTHING to do with each other. It's all slander. Ha!
    It's amazing the level of denial – and kula covering – here
    Also, that sex and power – in yoga – are related?
    I'm shocked that men – and women – would seek power advantages based
    on sex.
    More slander!
    ;o))
    Thanks for posting. Brother
    It's up the guys I think to speak real truth.
    The women – not all – are too invested in their collective self-delusion, and their PR needs.

  27. Tom says:

    Oh, Kelly. I can see why you’ve been hit on so much. But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater sex and sexuality are part of life. Denying that is just like denying the darkness. Just make boundaries. There are so many of us men out there that love yoga and love the spiritual aspect of it but those hard tail pants are insane! We’re only human. Don’t give up on us. I really wouldn’t do yoga if I had to only study with male teachers. That would be horrible!

  28. mattalign says:

    I'd give you a hundred thumbs up if I could…

  29. mattalign says:

    Three times???

  30. Dee says:

    Kelly, I love your candor. Women need to continue to speak their minds. And it's great that men are coming forward as well. Neither sex is to blame here. Apparently the yoga world is no different than the world in general. Apparently the yoga world is a microcosm of mainstream society.

    There are many trustworthy teachers. We can't let the mistakes of a few troubled souls tarnish the reputation of yoga. Why is the mainstream press jumping on this? There is some yoga phobia going on right now.

    Can you imagine the headline? Male aerobics teacher in xyz gym molests female students! These things happen every day in the real world. Why is everybody suddenly jumping on yoga?

    Is it because we hold ourselves to a higher standard? If so let's start living up to it and talk about something else like God and surrender. This topic is getting old..

    But Kelly, I am grateful for your point of view and it points to the fact that this is a real and prevalent problem and is not limited to one school of yoga.

  31. yogasamurai says:

    I wonder what we really mean by a catch-all word such as "molest' in these settings?

    In my own experience there are degrees of inappropriateness, in terms of the kind of verbal commentary or physical contact. In addition, there may be one-time, impulsive or opportunistic incidents versus ongoing or repeat "offenses."

    There's also the really critical issue of whether the inappropriate behavior continues after it's been flagged – if, in fact, it is.

    There are also forms of "offense" that are difficult to "detect," but can be very deeply "felt." As when a student is touched during sivasana, or simply ravenously gazed upon and desired! A lot of stuff in this area can occur "under the radar," or with really advanced practitioners, even telepathically.

    We've had lots of women speak of getting "yogasms" after certain kinds of asana practice, combined with ostensibly "non-invasive" touching by their male teachers.

    A lot of teachers I am aware of do ask permission of the students in advance if they can adjust their posture or touch them in any way during class. That might help – then again, it might just be "license."

    Just some thoughts. Obviously, asking your teacher or student out, or following your teacher into the bathroom or dressing room – or tackling them en route – are on another order of magnitude.

    And finally, there's also just miscommunication that can arise through genuine expressions of warmth and friendliness. Some teachers freely hug their students. Many others don't. For students – and perhaps for the teacher, too – it expresses heartfelt gratitude for the yoga practice, and is a bonding ritual.

    Still, the potential for confusion is there.

  32. Ozz says:

    Good point Kate – yet this article begins:

    "Six years ago, I stopped seeing male clients. Invariably, they’d ask me out…"

    Invariably? That means every single one! Really? Hmmm…. The portrait she paints – that 100% of her male students act in this way – doesn't pass the smell test for me. As others have commented, seems likely that something more is going on here. For all that we've heard about the Jungian shadow recently, many don't seem to grasp that this exists in the UNCONSCIOUS where it is necessarily impervious to direct access. We cannot simply choose to examine our shadow!

    That said, I think the thesis Ms. Morris posits is the sort of obvious, common sense wisdom that so many in our community lack: "There is no such thing as consensual in a relationship predicated on a power inequity. Period. Whether it’s your boss, your shrink, your guru, political leader, your rabbi or your priest, each one has a sacred duty to say “Tom/Sally, put your clothes back on. Now.” "

    In fact, the mere fact that this has to be pointed out seems rather to be an indictment of our society.

  33. Ozz says:

    The wikipedia page for 'child sexual abuse' states:

    The rate of prevalence can be difficult to determine.[139][140][141]
    In the UK, a 2010 study estimated prevalence at about 5% for boys and 18% for girls[142] (not dissimilar to a 1985 study that estimated about 8% for boys and 12% for girls[143]). More than 23,000 incidents were recorded by the UK police between 2009 and 2010. Girls were six times more likely to be assaulted than boys with 86% of attacks taking place against them.[144][145] The estimates for the United States vary widely. A literature review of 23 studies found rates of 3% to 37% for males and 8% to 71% for females, which produced an average of 17% for boys and 28% for girls,[146] while a statistical analysis based on 16 cross-sectional studies estimated the rate to be 7.2% for males and 14.5% for females.[14] The US Department of Health and Human Services reported 83,600 substantiated reports of sexually abused children in 2005.[147][148] Including incidents which were not reported would make the total number even larger.[149] …
    Surveys have shown that one fifth to one third of all women reported some sort of childhood sexual experience with a male adult.[152]

    If statistics are going to be cited – and if the publication wishes to maintain standards of journalistic credibility – then the source of those stats MUST be included, as a matter of course. This is basic journalism 101, c'mon guys.

    In this case, we have this assertion:

    "in the U.S., 3 out of 5 women are sexually assaulted by someone they know before the age of 17"

    which is hyperlinked to another EJ post – but that post doesn't have anything to do with verifying this stat! Consider for a moment: if 60% of girls are assaulted by someone they know in pre-adult years, then what's the percentage of all sexual assaults by 17 by perps known and unknown? 70% 80%? And what is then the percentage of assaults regardless of age – wouldn't we be talking close to 100%? Seriously?

    In other words, this stat – along with the related and highly suspect assertion that "Overwhelmingly, the papers described sexual abuse at the hands of a loved one" – doesn't pass the smell test.

    I undertand how serious child sexual abuse is, and I also understand how confirmation bias works, and I understand that in desiring to make a point, it's easy to exaggerate statistics to bolster one's claims, but this actually undermines the point one is trying to make.

    In this case, the basic thesis that yoga teachers should not have sex with students is one I agree with – but this piece seems to wildly veer into the area of child sexual abuse by family or friends in a way that actually detracts from that supposed thesis. Reading this, it felt to me like that thesis got hijacked.

    At any rate, clearly, some editorial control should have been exercised in this case (at least, to require a citation to support that stat) – this appears to be an unsupportable statistic which now has been permitted to enter the blogosphere – already awash in stats people pulled outta their a$$es. IMO, this is just not good journalism.

  34. fred says:

    Yeah, check out Kelly's shorts in the video on her www site: http://pdam.plumtv.com/public/marketing_player/21

    No wonder men are confused. Of course, good men will take Kelly at her word, leaving it open season for men who think women do not always say what they mean, while women wrinkle their noses at the guys who are "too nice."

  35. mattalign says:

    Harlan, your post reminds of the immortal and wise words of George W. Bush: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKgPY1adc0A

  36. catnipkiss says:

    I agreee with Ozz, don't use a statistic without a citation. It's a little scary to be confronted with this and then realize it might just be exaggeration. Also, you refer to "the parent" as the usual abuser. I thoroughly object to this as well. "Someone they know" does not automatically mean parent! I have my theories on who the abusers likely are but in the interest of "cite the research" I won't put it out there (cuz I don't feel like finding the research!) Not to say it does not happen with parents, sadly, but I have a suspicion that this is not an unbiased statement, it seems very personal.

    Having joined the protest against un-cited statistics and over-generalizations (which I also am guilty of at times!) I do agree with the main point of this article – that teachers should not seek out opportunities to sleep with students. I think if I were dating a yoga teacher (my teacher or one I met another way) I would have to not take his class anymore. Maybe. I'll let you know if that ever happens! Thanks for stirring up some interesting dialog! – Alexa M.

  37. fred says:

    You could probably avoid a lot of unwanted attention simply by choosing different clothing. Yoga poses in short shorts, like in the plum tv video on your www site, will attract men. Of course, a good man will take you at your word… and leave the field open for those who believe women don't always say what they mean… while women wrinkle their noses at the kind fools who are too nice.

  38. kellymorris says:

    Thank you, everyone, for bothering to read and to comment.

    Statistics on sexual abuse in children vary widely, from 1 in 4, to 1 in 3, to 3 in 5. I appreciate the importance of using the most accurate statistics available but rarely is there one definitive source and, in the end, whatever statistic you choose, the rates of abuse are inexcusably high.

    To illustrate, if there are 50 students in the room, 1 in 4 means roughly 12 of them were abused, 1 in 3 means roughly 17 of them were abused, and 3 in 5 means exactly 30 were abused.

    Adding to this is the fact that according to Susan Forward, PhD, in her book, "Innocence and Betrayal Overcoming the Legacy of Sexual Abuse, "Ninety percent of sexual abuse victims never tell." In other words, the incidences are grossly underreported so, again, whichever statistic you choose, the literal numbers are dramatically higher.

    Whichever statistic you choose, it's indisputable that a significant number of people in any given yoga class are going to have had some kind of sexual abuse in their past and thus be more vulnerable than most to lopsided power dynamics.

    In my opinion, the standard for protecting those 12 or 17 or 30 people should be a bright line that prohibits sexual relations between a teacher and her students.

    Thank you again to ALL of you for reading and providing critical feedback.

  39. Rocko says:

    I've been having sex with female yoga teachers for years. Yoga studios are a truly awesome resource to get laid.

  40. thebabarazzi says:

    Our response to this article can be found here, in full digital color moving images! The FUTURE!!!! http://thebabarazzi.com/2012/03/03/video-dear-kel

  41. JoeC2K says:

    Rock on Rocko 😉

  42. Barry says:

    There is much criticism of the statistics that Kelly quotes of ‘3 out of 5’ women being assaulted before the age of 17.

    For the past 9 years, I have been working passionately with a quantum physics based system that identifies personality and potential from the date of birth. Very simply, but with huge accuracy.

    What has been revealed to me during this time, is the potential for upward of 60% of humanity, both men and women, to have been abused . . . sexually, physically, verbally or emotionally.

    This predisposition for abuse is accompanied by huge sensitivity, embarrassment and a very private nature.

    So those abused, in most cases, will never report the abuse to friends, family or the authorities, neither will they confront the perpetrator, ever. That would be unthinkable.

    I have tested this information many thousand times over, across the globe, with startling confirmation.

    In addition, as a very sensitive 12 year old, I was sexually molested by no less than 4 adult male school teachers who abused their position of authority.

    It is only now, 50 years on, that I am ‘owning’ this abuse and able to give account especially when the discussion involves teachers, in a position of authority and responsibility, who overstep their boundaries in whatever discipline.

    The abuse is really widespread and occurs in the home, workplace, in sport, religion, spiritual practice, yoga, tantra . . . anywhere that there is a ‘coaching’ relationship where a bond develops . . . has been going on since the beginning of time !

  43. lynne says:

    love you guys!

  44. Louise says:

    Finally, someone who gets it! You won't believe how much 'you-create-your-own-reality' and other shit I was given when I called rape on what was supposed to be a healing session. I call it the mis-application of non-dualistic thinking, but that's much harder to get your head around than 'premature forgiveness'. Sure, forgiveness may come in time, but to push this on someone who is calling a teacher to account is to minimise the harm/trauma, suppress the shame and say 'get back in your box' to the person who is brave enough to come forward.

    Thanks so much for this article, it helps to keep me feeling sane. And look at some of the backlash in the comments! This is not unusual for someone who is tackling this difficult subject. Keep up the good work, Kelly.

  45. Joe Sparks says:

    Almost everything which we have been told, or have assumed, to be rational about sexuality will turn out to be patterned distress. Much of the current society operates to attach distress to people's sexual feelings, and then manipulate them, using this combination of distress and sexual feelings for purposes of exploitation of all kinds.

  46. oz_ says:

    Sorry Barry, but as an engineer with a heavy emphasis on physics, I'm actually quite familiar with quantum physics, and your explanation does not pass the smell test. How does quantum physics relate to dates of birth in a way that allows some predictive capability for abuse potential??

    If you have in fact devised such a methodology (especially if it is as accurate as you assert), then please point me to the peer reviewed published studies which you've written up in order to allow the scientific community to perform its function of hypothesis breaking. I can access virtually all peer reviewed journal articles, so just the links to the articles would be fine.

    I am very sorry to hear about your experiences of abuse, and I do not wish to minimize those or to cast aspersions, but suffering abuse does not necessarily lead to the sort of disinterested inquiry. What steps have you taken to guard against the obvious personal challenge of confirmation bias?

  47. oz_ says:

    Hi Kelly – thanks for responding. Just to clarify – what my comment suggested was not that you not use statistics, but that you cite their source, so that we the readers can assess credibility. Feel free to use whatever stats you like to make your argument – just cite the source, please.

    Further, as Alexa noted, the seamless morph from 'someone they know' to 'parent' was unsettling and cause for wonderment.

    Perhaps you can see how these sorts of issues distract from the basic premise of your argument, about sex in the context of power inequity, with which I agree.

  48. take a real look says:

    Also witness that this author sells herself as a yoga/spiritual teacher with sex. Her advertising for wanderlust features her in a bikini from behind, not practicing yoga but looking over her shoulder flirtatiously. her teachings on iTunes are full of cleavage.

    If you really want to take the sex out of yoga, and make a vow to do so…
    don't use yourself as sexual object to advertise
    and don't follow teachers who take such vows and break them (as an early reply pointed out)

    It is easy for Kelly to pontificate and preach about how to act, but she does not follow it.
    This goes beyond just this writing too… huge hypocrite.