Abhijata Iyengar’s Letter

Letter from Abhijata and Prashant Iyengar to all IYNAUS members

So along the way, the team (YP, Yoga Police, The Advocate, Crystal Dildo Girl and the original accuser) accumulated a few followers who were more than happy to jump on the bandwagon, many of them never having taken a class with Manouso. They went to great lengths on social media to call out anyone, especially CIYT’s (certified Iyengar Yoga teachers) who supported Manouso or continued to attend workshops. This happened to me so I quit teaching at an Iyengar studio. All my students moved with me proving to me what I already knew, that the piece of paper doesn’t mean much to the students, but it sure means a lot to the senior teachers and their organization IYNAUS.

After the flawed report came out, the Iyengars had no choice but to decertify Manouso. This decision was blasted across social media. In fact I got two emails within one hour from IYNAUS broadcasting the news. Within the week Manouso had taken the name Iyengar off his website and repainted his building removing the word Iyengar. He continued to teach his weekly classes and workshops. Like always, he posted his workshop schedule on his website. This prompted The Advocate to write all the venues who were hosting Manouso threatening media attention for hosting a sexual predator. Manouso took the workshops off his website because, as always, he was trying to protect his students. A few brave souls continued to host him around the country, and so information about the workshops was sent via email. Ironically, if the Team got wind of these workshops, they referred to them as “secret workshops” .

So this went on for many months with the team relentlessly bashing Iynaus and the Iyengars for allowing CIYT’s (Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher) to study with a known sexual predator. Let’s not forget that the notion Manouso is guilty is not consistent with any legal finding. So at the end of January 2020, the Iyengar family issued the letter posted above which states that any teacher who continues to study with Manouso will be decertified. IYNAUS membership fees are due in January and the Iyengar’s letter came out at the end of January which is interesting timing.

The letter is a violation of fundamental human rights such as:  

freedom of association ( CIYT’s – have the right to gather with whomever they wish – even with Manouso and even if the national association and senior teachers disapprove); freedom of speech (CIYT’s – in their off duty time / off premises – have the right to speak about Manouso, criticize or praise him, discourage or promote him);  
privacy (CIYT’s in their off duty time – have the right to be free of employers’ tracking their activities – No senior teachers have the right to pry into teacher’s private lives to see if they are attending Manouso’s workshops);  (Recently when Manouso taught a workshop in the Southeast, the president of IYNAUS made phone calls to senior teachers in that area demanding to know the location of the workshop and who was attending.)
freedom of religion (for some of us – especially teachers – our personal yoga practice is a religious practice; it is legally protected, and the an Iyengar Institute can’t legally discriminate against based on who we practice and study with; IYNAUS espouses that yoga is not a religion though, so they can’t claim that they can discriminate based on our studying with someone they excommunicated). 
In the American constitution, these rights were adopted as individuals’ fundamental protections against tyrannical government.  They were not initially viewed as applicable to employer / employee relationships.  However, federal civil rights laws and state constitutions and laws (especially California’s) have rightfully expanded these rights to cover employee relations.  Under these expanded laws, employers can regulate employee speech and associations and invade their privacy at the workplace during their on-duty hours. However, employers cannot control (or retaliate against) employees for their off-duty / out of the workplace activities, speech or associations (except in extreme situations where the conduct is unlawful).  To my knowledge, after being asked not to promote Manouso in IYILA classes or at the Institute, teachers complied.  These teachers are experiencing unlawful discrimination and retaliation for their off duty / off premises exercise of fundamental legal rights.  Shame on IYILA, IYNAUS, the curriculum committee, MA, SH and Abhijata Iyengar for their roles in this unlawful and unethical activity that has cause so much damage to our fellow teachers.  
Iyengar yoga certification is a property and contract right that cannot be taken from teachers arbitrarily.  We earned our certification. We paid our hard-earned money for association dues, for testing fees and for training fees and the like.  We paid a lot of money but that pales in comparison to the sweat and tears – our time and work and personal sacrifices – put in over years and years (and for some of us, decades).  This at times may have seemed our selfless contribution to the promulgation of BKS Iyengar’s work. But there was always a quid pro quo; our training and work led to knowledge and advancement that was recognized through our certifications.  At least we had that certification – that was the deal; we took it for granted that it would always be ours – unless we did something so terribly wrong that it was taken away from us for good cause.  (That’s how the taking of Manouso’s very valuable senior certificate was justified by IYNAUS.) So, we had a deal with the system: we were rewarded for paying our money and doing our work with certifications, and we advanced or didn’t in the system; from a legal perspective, we had a contract and a property right and we relied on it; our certification could not (and cannot legally) be arbitrarily taken by anybody – even by the new generation in India that inherited family power built by the great yogis Geetaji and Guruji (who by the way did not decertify anyone for studying with someone else – even the rival and great yogi Pattabhi Jois).  

What a paradox! The aim of yoga is emancipation and yet the Iyengar family and IYNAUS strips of our basic freedoms. Check out this video of BKS Iyengar in Ultimate Freedom!

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