The only advice, indeed, that one person can give another about reading is to take no advice, to follow your own instincts, to use your own reason, to come to your own conclusions.
Maybe it’s just coincidence that IYNAUS selected an independent investigator recommended by Yoga Alliance and then joined forces with Yoga Alliance a year later. Maybe it’s coincidence that YP (Yoga Pundit) and the head of the Yoga Police are both involved with Yoga Alliance, and maybe it’s just a coincidence that Manouso was deadset against Iyengar Yoga joining forces with Yoga Alliance because he understood the genesis of Yoga Alliance. He understood that YA 200 hour certificate and Iyengar Yoga Junior 1 certification are not the same.
IYNAUS hired the independent investigator recommended by Yoga Alliance, and she had no knowledge of yoga of any kind and certainly no earthly idea about hands-on adjustments. The investigator, an African-American female, was tasked with not only gathering evidence but evaluating that evidence and serving as the judge, jury, prosecutor, and the executioner. It’s worthy to note that I was in the class where the alleged assault took place. In fact, I and several of my friends, who were also in that class are sure that the pose the accuser was allegedly groped in, wasn’t taught that day. Of course it’s difficult to remember what was taught five years ago, but we all had notebooks with our notes from that class. In my case, I took off work to get to that class because I knew Manouso could help me find relief from an injury I had been dealing with. The studio where he taught that weekend was small maybe 850 square feet and the 50 or so students were in close proximity to each other. Manouso has a commanding presence so, as always, all eyes and ears were on him as he instructed. He’s not exactly light on his feet either, so you know when he is approaching. I know I watch him like a hawk and know where he is at all times because I want to see what he is doing and how he is adjusting students so I can learn. Other teachers have confirmed that they watch him as intently as I do. It is impossible to believe that he stared at a woman’s chest while he was demonstrating a pose without being noticed by me or anyone else in the class. There were many other points in the original complaint that did not ring true to me, which I suppose was the case with the Ethics Committee too, but that isn’t the point of today’s blog. I do think his accuser thinks she was groped, and I think Manouso did not grope her. Two opposing things CAN be true at the same time. I have room for both those thoughts in my brain.
Manouso is the first to say he isn’t the teacher for everybody. His straightforward manner, his ability to cut through the shit and mirror back to people what they don’t want to see, offends people. I think he is a major empath and others say he is a major asshole. Who is right? Manouso has taught nearly half a million people over the past 30 years. He hired the best lawyers he could find and they told him there was no way he could prove his innocence against anonymous complaints over thirty years. So Manouso resigned, but IYNAUS wouldn’t accept his resignation and carried on the investigation with what seemed to be a gleeful vengeance.
Social Media went Wild.
Manouso was being compared to Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein.
The sloppy and impossible-to-decipher report was published as a downloadable PDF on IYNAUS website. Of course IYNAUS posted it on facebook too, so it could be shared over and over again. The investigator recommended by Yoga Alliance found that there was a pattern of sexual touching. I will summarize the five substantiated complaints below. For some reason, the man providing information and not submitting a complaint was included in the report, too.
- The original complaint- Manouso stared at her breasts while he was demonstrating shoulderstand and he caressed her breast while adjusting her in ganda bherundasana. The complaintwas brought in 2018; the class was in 2013.
- The woman who Manouso caught stealing from him and had previously accused two other male yoga teachers said he had touched her genitals with his toe while adjusting her in supta padangustasana. She maintained that her boyfriend witnessed this adjustment. Her boyfriend was never interviewed by the investigator and adamantly denies it ever happened.
- A woman said Manouso stuck his finger in her anus through yoga tights in Prasarita Padottanasana
- A woman complained of common pelvic tilting adjustment in uttanasana where the hand moves from the tailbone to the pubis
- Woman complaining of a common slapping adjustment in ardha chandrasana
- Man who wasn’t complaining only providing information
I was interviewed and my own testimony is unrecognizable to me in the report. I was stunned. I asked for clarification and was denied by the investigator and the president of IYNAUS. It shocked me to my core to know that my testimony was being used to incriminate a man I believe has given his life to help others. To make matters worse, I was being attacked on social media and at my place of work for supporting Manouso. I noticed others were being threatened too. And so, I write this blog anonymously because there is no hate like yoga hate and the truth is getting buried because of a handful of people perpetuating a one-sided narrative. I know that people are reading this, and I know they see some truth. Thank you. I think it’s only a matter of time before I get attacked (again).
We, this people, on this small and drifting planet- Whose hands can strike with such abandon-That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living- Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness-That the haughty neck is happy to bow- And the proud back is glad to bend-Out of such chaos, of such contradiction We learn that we are neither devils nor divines.
–Excerpt from Maya Angelou’s A Brave and Startling Truth