How much are you willing to hide and lie to keep your Iyengar yoga certification?

Do you find your fellow teachers guilty of the “crimes” of having the opinion that IYNAUS’s Manouso report is flawed and, based on that opinion, continuing their study with Manouso during their off-duty hours? And do you, therefore, judge your fellow teachers as being unethical, and do you support (as Abhi intends) their decertification and termination – effectively, their expulsion from the Iyengar community?

OR

Do you reject the organizations and individuals that violate our fellow teachers’ human rights and the law? – Organizations and individuals that attempt to control our fellow teachers’ private lives, speech, thoughts, associations and religious practice?  Organizations and individuals that have deprived our fellow teachers of their livelihoods, and slandered them as unethical?  

The Decline of Iyengar Yoga

There are many reasons for the rapid decline of Iyengar yoga. No doubt the global pandemic has contributed. For years it has been required that certified Iyengar yoga teachers (CIYTS) of a certain level travel to India to study with the Iyengar family, but not only has the global pandemic curtailed the travel to India, but the fact that both Geeta and BKS are gone has made the trip less desirable.

To me the downfall started with the advent of Iyengar yoga certification and Iyengar yoga teacher training. That’s when I noticed the power and greed of Iyengar senior teachers come to the surface. For many years the chair of the Iyengar yoga certification committee taught teacher trainings for certification. It was a well-known, unspoken rule among CIYTs that in order to pass the Iyengar yoga teacher certification assessment, you had to take her teacher training. Talk about a conflict of interest!

The different levels of Iyengar yoga certification mean nothing to the students who come to Iyengar yoga classes. It is only within the Iyengar yoga teaching community that the levels carry any weight, though it is no secret that some teachers at the highest certification have no ability to inspire and motivate and can’t attract students unless they travel to other locations.

After BKS Iyengar died in August 2014, Iyengar yoga teachers came out of the woodwork claiming to be anointed by him. BKS Iyengar was a talented master of yoga and a human being who fucked up like the rest of us, not some god-like figure to be worshipped. The Iyengar yoga community seems to be more obsessed with guru worship than the practice of yoga to benefit humanity.

After BKS Iyengar died, I noticed a proliferation of sanctimonious posts on social media by CIYTs. The high-minded, holier-than-thou approach does nothing but alienate people who might have otherwise come to class. The recent wave of trying to undo years of pandering to rich, white people is equally inauthentic.

Merging with Yoga Alliance has rendered Iyengar certification meaningless.

For those of you who have missed my posts. Thank you. My laptop broke and there is enough hypocrisy in the world without my pointing it out in the shriveling, stagnant world of Iyengar Yoga.

Manouso Manos and Me Too

Manouso, as usual, taught a brilliant class today. I continue to be amazed at his ability to inspire and challenge me on a daily basis five days a week for well over a year. My middle back especially thanks him today as I slump over my laptop writing this blog.

I’ve noticed an uptick on this blog’s traffic and so I will recap the events that brought us to the brilliant online sequence Manouso taught today. Thank you to all who read this.

In 2018, a CIYT complained that she had been groped by Manouso in a public yoga class in 2013, in which I happened to be a participant. This woman threatened in her original complaint that she would take her story to the media and she made good on that threat. Radio station KQED did a story on her which cast IYNAUS in a not so flattering light. IYNAUS, led by a president who happened to be a white male attorney and a student of the teacher with certification one level below Manouso, took action and sent an email to all its members requesting anonymous complaints against Manouso over a span of 30 years. For decades Manouso has been one of two teachers in the world who holds the highest certificate ever awarded by BKS Iyengar. His teaching was and still is legendary. IYNAUS hired an “independent investigator” who happened to be a black female with a long history of sexual assault prosecutions and no knowledge of yoga. Social media went wild with inflammatory and libelous accusations against Manouso. One of the most vocal was a woman who hung out in Manouso’s studio like it was her living room. Manouso had helped her recover from an addiction and yoga replaced that addiction. She began subbing at Manouso’s studio and spending a lot of time there. Manouso allowed it because it kept her away from her addictions but she crossed the line too many times and eventually he took away her key to his studio after she posted a picture of him teaching a public class on facebook without his permission and helped herself to items from the lost and found. Manouso also caught her stealing money from him. This woman (crystal dildo girl) showed up in the “independent investigator’s” report. She said her boyfriend witnessed Manouso’s foot on her labia and her boyfriend denies it ever happened though he never was interviewed. The “independent investigator” substantiated her story along with the original complaint and two other complaints. I reviewed this in another post but in case you forgot: Out of teaching close to 400,000 students over a span of 30 years the report came up with the 6 complaints. You may read the entire report on the IYNAUS website. IYNAUS said it would stay posted for 15 days and it has been up for nearly three years as of this writing. TRIGGER WARNING: the word labia is used A LOT.

The interviews of claims of sexual harassment made against Manouso was one-sided and designed to find guilt rather than to independently investigate claims in an impartial manner. Every exculpatory bit of evidence was not considered, such as interviewing witnesses who are noted in the report as witnessing an assault or just a basic background check of the accusers. It would have been relatively easy to establish the personal vendetta that one of his accusers had against Manouso.

We live in a free country, a democracy guided by rules and laws. In a democracy, a person being accused learns the identity of their accuser(s); has the opportunity to question their claims; to explain their ‘side’ of the story, to tell their truth and to have their day in court. Manouso was not given this opportunity. Admitting to a simple adjustment such as a pat to the inner thigh in ardha chandrasana could land him in jail depending on the state in which the adjustment occurred.

Yoga facebook groups went wild comparing Manouso to Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein. These men have raped women. In recent #METOO cases that have reached the courts, the accused allegedly made unwanted advances of a sexual nature which included requests for private meetings, luring women to private meeting places under the pretext of business, and making outright demands for sexual acts and or rape.

The accusations against Manouso are materially different. All cases in the report allege instances of inappropriate touching occurred during yoga classes with multiple students and or the entire class watching. Never once did a student receiving the instruction complain that the touch felt inappropriate nor did she ask Manouso to stop. In addition, never once did an observer speak up to say they were offended by watching the adjustment. All adjustments were public, all occured in the context of a yoga class, and all were observed by bystanders, including Iyengar Yoga senior teachers. No one took exception; no one asked Manouso to stop. In many cases, observing teachers had seen and experienced the same adjustments year after year and gave similar adjustments to their students. Decade after decade, nobody questioned the appropriateness of Manouso’s touch. And, all the adjustments in question were taught to Manouso by Iyengar. Moreover, the report contained no evidence that Manouso ever used his position to intimidate or prevent another teacher from advancing.

The reference that Manouso is guilty is not consistent with any legal finding. Manouso has denied and continues to deny all the charges.

Manouso takes his show on the road

There are certain things you can count on in an Iyengar yoga class with Manouso Manos:

  1. He will start and end on time
  2. He will be wearing a white polo and blue bloomers
  3. He will credit his teacher BKS Iyengar
  4. You will understand his instructions
  5. He won’t babble in Sanskrit
  6. He will relate the class to real life not some high-minded pretend world
  7. At some point you will laugh aloud
  8. Though he doesn’t teach anatomy you will learn anatomy
  9. You will probably learn something about history that you didn’t know
  10. You will be awed by the depth of his knowledge of asana
  11. You will be challenged
  12. You will be inspired
  13. You will be thankful for the class and how it makes you feel
  14. He will always show up no matter what the circumstances
  15. He will give his all

RIP the Abode of Iyengar Yoga

The Abode of Iyengar Yoga

All things must pass. The pandemic has ravaged the world and things will never be the same. Many yoga studios have stood empty for over a year and students and teachers have grown accustomed to virtual classes. A WAPO article revealed that health and fitness equipment revenue more than doubled, to $2.3 billion, from March to October, according to NPD retail data. Sales of treadmills soared 135 percent while those of stationary bikes nearly tripled, depleting inventories. Who knows what will happen to the yoga industry but one thing for sure is that it won’t be the same. I know I won’t be driving across town to take a mediocre yoga class when I can take a class with Manouso in the privacy of my own home anytime I want.

All things must pass. The pandemic has ravaged the world and things will never be the same. Many yoga studios have stood empty for over a year and students and teachers have grown accustomed to virtual classes. A WAPO article revealed that health and fitness equipment revenue more than doubled, to $2.3 billion, from March to October, according to NPD retail data. Sales of treadmills soared 135 percent while those of stationary bikes nearly tripled, depleting inventories. Who knows what will happen to the yoga industry but one thing for sure is that it won’t be the same. I know I won’t be driving across town to take a mediocre yoga class when I can take a class with Manouso in the privacy of my own home anytime I want.

Many yoga teachers streamed their classes but Manouso made some key decisions that no one else did. He chose to keep the videos short and uses multiple demo models (my heroes) showing different options while he directs the class.  He teaches five days a week and often builds on previous classes. The classes are challenging and stress relieving. His teaching is masterful, clear, and motivational. I am not alone in the feeling that Manouso’s daily classes have been a godsend during these dark days of the pandemic. And, he is able to keep the participants anonymous so CIYTS who continue to study with him are not ratted out by others and chased down by IYNAUS. Manouso has made it very clear to all his students that they should keep their IYENGAR certificates and that he can’t protect us.

Prior to the pandemic, his students were afraid to come to class for fear of being ratted out to IYNAUS and losing their certificates. Some were afraid of being shamed on social media. The pandemic shut all that down.

The Abode of Iyengar Yoga is one of the most beautiful yoga studios in the world. Many of us have spent countless hours and decades there. But it’s over. It will never be the same.

Congratulations, Manouso. May you be free to teach as you please. You have given so much.

Manouso Manos Class Live and In Person

Manouso’s studio: The Abode of Yoga formerly known as the Abode of Iyengar Yoga

For the first time in over a year, Manouso is teaching a workshop at his studio. It sold out in minutes.

“Yoga allows you to find an inner peace that is not ruffled and riled by the endless stresses and struggles of life.”
― B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life

Just Thank You.

Manouso Manos in Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana

It’s been nearly a year since Manouso started his daily online classes. What a godsend they have been for so many of us. I don’t think any of us could ever have imagined that a pandemic would afflict our entire planet, cloister us in our homes for months on end, and transform how we do school, shop, socialize, and exercise.  Manouso says yoga is skillful action– doing the right thing at the right time, and what did he do? He committed to help us through the pandemic by offering daily online yoga classes until it was safe to go back to class. He found a way to protect his students from IYNAUS so that they could study with him anonymously and still keep their Iyengar yoga certification. He insisted that those who were experiencing financial hardship continue to show up for class though they could not pay. All he asked for in return was that they contact him from time to time. He continued to pay his assistants with the proceeds from his classes which likely eased the sting of IYNAUS taking away their certifications, and FIVE DAYS a week he inspired (and continues to inspire) us with his subtle and sophisticated teaching. His knowledge of the human body in asana is mind boggling. His ability to take difficult concepts and explain them in a way that leaves no room for confusion is astonishing. His deep knowledge and love for the yoga he learned from BKS Iyengar motivates and inspires. Manouso is an artist. In the words of Nick Cave, “Art gives much, but it asks much in return. It demands nothing less than complete commitment and significant sacrifice. Talent is nice if you have it, but in some ways it is a secondary requirement.”

Thank you, Manouso. Just thank you.

BKS Iyengar teachings by Manouso Manos

Manouso’s classes are now available for rent on Vimeo. What a gift! If you want to know what it was like to study with BKS Iyengar, Manouso is about as close as it gets. I daresay, even better. Check it out! Spread the word.

Confidence, clarity and compassion are essential qualities of a teacher.

BKS Iyengar