Iyengar Yoga Intimidation

Several years ago I was in a Manouso workshop at IYILA (the Iyengar Yoga Institute of Los Angeles). I was sitting toward the front of the class and watched as a thin student approached Manouso and introduced herself as a student of Patricia Walden’s (the only other teacher who holds the same certificate as Manouso given by BKS Iyengar). Manouso acknowledged her in his usual no-nonsense manner. The next day, I watched the same woman approach him again and reintroduce herself. Manouso said something like, “I heard you yesterday.” For the sake of clarity I will call this woman SCIYT.

A short time later SCIYT filed an ethics complaint against Manouso for his offensive language and showing his buttocks in a tailbone demonstration during that workshop.

So in 2018, when the original accuser used social media to spread the news of her 2013 sexual assault, SCIYT, who I learned was a senior level CIYT, jumped on the bandwagon. I watched SCIYT on social media telling people who were questioning what was going on with Manouso to DM her. I thought it strange that senior teachers were making comments about Manouso on Facebook. In the meantime, a fellow certified Iyengar Yoga teacher told me I might want to check out SCIYT’s youtube videos because SCIYT’s youtube videos seemed highly sexual. I remember thinking, “Well that sounds like the pot calling the kettle black”. I am not a prude, and I don’t really care how others conduct themselves as long as they don’t hurt anyone, but what really gets me is the hypocrisy of the holier than thou attitude of some Iyengar yoga teachers. Eventually I took a gander at SCIYT’s youtube videos and they were beyond what I could have imagined. Her videos show her scantily clad in what appears to be lingerie with no underwear and are loaded with unnecessary touching and rubbing on students. Eka pada rajakopotasana I & II , Natarajasana, and Yoga for Back Care, Part 3 are particularly interesting for attire. Others are interesting for adjustments and touching.

The post which resulted in a cease and desist

Many CIYT’s questioned this striking hypocrisy. One unwitting CIYT with virtually zero social media experience decided to defend Manouso in one of her first ever facebook posts. She questioned the integrity of the investigation and posted the latest video by SCIYT (Yoga for Back Care, Part 3) on the private facebook group Iyengar Yogis- a group with over 6000 members. Her post was deleted and she was kicked out of the Facebook group within hours, AND, she was served a cease and desist order from SCIYT three days later. Oh, and wouldn’t you know it, SCIYT was on the Board of IYNAUS when they took away the certificate of Manouso. PARADOX!!!

Iyengar Yoga with Manouso

You had to be there. Keeping it real with Manouso. It was all middle back yesterday and it was mind blowing. I marvel how Manouso gives us the roadmap to finding places in our bodies that have been untouched and dormant. He keeps the yoga real; he makes it accessible so we can relate it to our lives to help ourselves and then help those around us. We are part of the universe not witnesses to it.

Thank you, Manouso, for showing up every day and keeping Iyengar yoga accessible and interesting. For me, your classes have been the greatest gift to come out of this pandemic.

Disillusioned With Iyengar Yoga

Thank you to all who read this blog. I am stunned that so many of you have found your way to it, as I have done nothing to promote it. I told no one about it but somehow word has spread. I feel for my Iyengar Yoga comrades (CIYTs) who are forced to hide that Manouso is their teacher and have had his name stripped from their bios without their permission, though most of their chops come from him. It’s a hard place to be and they have to make a living. Paradoxes abound. I am thankful for those who leave comments. Below is a sampling:

I have stopped referring to the process engaged in by the lawyer hired by IYNAUS as an investigation. It was a collection of interviews. I call it “the report”. There was no investigation whatsoever. The lawyer simply said after interviews with the accusers that she found their accusations credible, in part because they agreed with each other. (Of course they agreed with each other, they had been talking to Remski and Farhi for some time.) She never offered any evidence.

I can’t attend on Tuesdays. But, today, wow! Actually, every day. Thank you for your writings! I feel less alone.

Brilliant; you nailed it exactly as it was projected. Thank you for helping us to relive those special moments. I’m especially glad you captured that picture of Manouso and Rita. I loved it and was sad I couldn’t relish it more when he terminated the meeting. Now I can see it again thanks to you.

It was a beautiful class! Manouso seems so in tune with the universe. Another yoga friend told us she is always amazed that in the days you need it most, Manouso has just the yoga that calls-so true!

LOVE THIS. THANK YOU.

Thanks for all the writings that you have done. What happened to Manouso is a complete; miscarriage of justice.

I appreciate your blog

Thank you for writing your columns and for supporting Manouso.

I always look forward to reading your columns.

Thank you Manouso for your brilliant teachings. Your Chinese New Year/Valentine’s/Lincoln’s Birthday/Presidents’ Day class was the bomb. Your assistants are my Iyengar Yoga heroes.

Iyengar Yoga Adjustments

BKS Iyengar adjusting and instructing Manouso that the perineum should not move toward the anal mouth in parsva sirsana (headstand) during the master class taught by Manouso Manos at the Yoga Journal Iyengar Yoga Intensive in Estes Park, Colorado in 2005. Over eight-hundred people attended. You may view the entire class here, and purchase the 5 DVD set here.

Happy Birthday, Manouso!

Rita Lewis Manos with her husband Manouso

Manouso says that some people say he’s a better storyteller than yoga teacher. I’m not sure anybody actually says that, but I appreciate how he uses storytelling to drive a yoga point home. It works.

His 69th birthday was Saturday. On Friday his assistants decorated the walls behind them with birthday wishes after counting down the days til his birthday all week long.

The class focused on low back and hips, and at the end of class, Manouso acknowledged his birthday. He took a little time to share what he had learned over the years. I will summarize as best I can.

“Yoga is important. My perspective over time about what is important has shifted. “

Manouso described a scene from the 1966 movie “Blow Up” which he saw as a young man and still remembers a particular scene all these years later.

The movie follows the day in the life of some dude (main character) and at some point this guy walks into a raucous nightclub. It was hopping in there. The main character guy is in the crowd watching the band and the guitar player is having trouble with his amplifier and starts banging his guitar against the amplifier. The feedback continues and the guitar player gets more and more frustrated and smashes his guitar a la The Who. He smashes his guitar into smithereens and takes the neck of the guitar and throws it into the audience who begins fighting over it. The main character guys fights to claim the guitar neck as the crowd tries to take it from him. Somehow he forces his way out of the mob and out the door into the street. Once on the street he looks at the guitar neck and throws it away and keeps walking.

Manouso likens this scene to his shifting perspective.

He said he spent his life building up an organization (Iyengar Yoga) because he thought it was important. He fought for it and gave a lot to it, and then he found himself in a place which for centuries was the worst punishment possible, he was banished.

He said it was horrible, and he felt like life was crashing down on him. But, after a while, he realized what he was fighting for had changed and wasn’t that important.

Yoga has given him the gift of perspective

What he didn’t say is the Iyengar Yoga community is the guitar neck. He didn’t need to.

Summarized by Muditachan from Friday’s online class with Manouso. You may watch the scene in the movie here.

#Truth Part 2

Just a short blog recap of events– 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 was one of two teachers in the world who held 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. 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 following 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 two years as of this writing. TRIGGER WARNING: the word labia is used A LOT.

  1. 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 complaint was brought in 2018; the class was in 2013.
  2. 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.
  3. A woman said Manouso stuck his finger in her anus through yoga tights in Prasarita Padottanasana
  4. A woman complained of common pelvic tilting adjustment in uttanasana where the hand moves from the tailbone to the pubis
  5. Woman complaining of a slapping adjustment in ardha chandrasana
  6. Man who wasn’t complaining only providing information

As a result of this investigation, IYNAUS took away Manouso’s certification that was awarded to him by BKS Iyengar himself. BKS Iyengar’s granddaughter Abhijata and his son Prashant published a statement that Manouso can no longer use the Iyengar name which he arguably had a HUGE hand in spreading. Then the Iyengars prohibited CIYTs from studying with Manouso and threatened to take away certification of anyone who continues to study with Manouso and made good on that when they took away certification of Manouso’s assistants who refuse to stop studying with him (as do thousands of others). And finally, IYNAUS issued a pennance for all CIYTS. All CIYTS must pay to take a mandatory “Ethical Guidelines Training on Sexual Misconduct Awareness, Prevention & Response” presented by the celebrity supported and endorsed RAINN or lose their certification.

So it seems like IYNAUS could not do much more to erase Manouso from Iyengar yoga, but still our crystal dildo girl was not happy. She continued to harass CIYTs who she suspected of studying with Manouso on social media, phone messages and email. This includes Manouso’s wife Rita. Finally in late summer she issued her last thrust. She started with the President of IYNAUS.

Then she wrote letter to many teachers she suspected were still studying with Manouso and posted a video on her facebook calling them out by name. The email is so long, I will not post all of it but it starts like this:

I have recently filed a complaint to the IYNAUS Ethics committee regarding your continued study and support of Manouso Manos. Below is part of the complaint. Not surprising that they (IYNAUS) are in dereliction of their duty, leaving it to me to enforce their own policy. Am I surprised, no.

This is in direct conflict with Abhijata and Prashants (sic) edict that no one is to support MM lest they lose their certification.

Per their request, I am emailing you to inquire about your support of MM. If you are still in support of MM, I am asking you to honor the moral code you portray to live by and be honest with the ehtics committee about your involvement in his classes by emailing them at the address address above.

… Are you all continuing your studies with MM? Please let IYNAUS and Abhijata know at the emails above. According to the websites below the following CIYT’s are currently employed by MM and should therefore give up their certification.

This email goes on like this and more for several pages.

IYNAUS responded with letters to the CIYT’s who were threatened. Excerpted below.

We write you to inform you that _______ _______ falsely told you that IYNAUS Ethics Committee “request(ed)” her to contact you and ask you if you ” are still in support of (Manouso Manos).” We made no such request.

… In short, we did not “request” that Ms _______ contact you and make any of her various statements to you.

Yours in yoga,

IYNAUS Ethics Committee

January 9, 2021 is Manouso’s 69th birthday. Show your support even if it’s only to him.

Iyengar Yoga Politics

What happened at the US Capitol Wednesday reminded me of the last Iyengar yoga convention in Dallas. Herd mentality and conspiracy theories don’t mix well, just as herd mentality and righteous yogis dripping in white privilege don’t mix. I hear the words…”Don’t be a sheep”.

Manouso responded in the most beautiful of ways with a restorative sequence and talk about yoga. We started in prasarita padottanasana and then went to a supported setu bandha over two bolsters. This pose makes us open and vulnerable. Back to prasarita padottanasan with head down breathing into the back body and then into a series of poses of protection which invite introspection like supported kurmasana and janu sirsasana with a blanket over our heads. Meanwhile Manouso is talking about yoga and how it is the study of self and how we can’t possibly understand others until we understand ourselves. He says yoga gives us tools to suffer the slings and arrows that the universe throws at us- and reminds us that we can only control our reaction. As always he guides us to take responsibility for ourselves in our yoga practice and then outward in the world to make it a better place.

Tribute to BKS Iyengar

Every class Manouso teaches is a tribute to BKS Iyengar, and this was especially so on Monday, December 14–BKS Iyengar’s birthday. The guru would have been 102 years old.

I continue to be amazed by Manouso’s artistry in weaving together a yoga class that leaves me awestruck. On Monday, Iyengar’s birthday, Manouso led us through a sequence punctuated with firsthand, heartfelt stories of BKS Iyengar that made it seem like the guru was in the Zoom with us. The sequence culminated with uttana padma mayurasana or Iyengarasana. Manouso told a story about suggesting to BKS Iyengar that an asana be named after the guru. Manouso named a few poses but BKS Iyengar declined saying the names of the old poses should not be changed, but the guru offered up the pose uttana padma mayurasana as a possibility. He suggested this asana for two reasons: 1) He invented it. 2) It is complex enough.  

In savasana Manouso went on to describe more about BKS Iyengar. He suggested that Iyengar believed more in the subject of yoga than in himself, and that the guru revealed to others how the powerful subject could change their lives for the better. Manouso maintained that this is possible for anyone.  As yoga teachers, both Manouso and BKS Iyengar inspire students to keep developing and keep looking, and warn against being a sheep.  Manouso reviewed the 8 limbs of yoga and defined samadhi (the final limb) as when the subject and object become one–or the seer and the seen converge.  But, BKS Iyengar defined it as when the seer, the seeing, and the seen converge and become one.  Manouso went on to say that during BKS Iyengar’s lifetime the Oxford dictionary listed Iyengar Yoga.  That is to say that the subject= yoga and object=Iyengar and the subject=Iyengar and the object=yoga converged.  BKS Iyengar attained yoga.  

Thank you Manouso for sharing the teachings of BKS Iyengar. I am so grateful.  

TRIGGER WARNING FOR IYNAUS: BKS IYENGAR AND MANOUSO ARE IN THE SAME SENTENCE.

Iyengar Yoga is so WOKE!

What would Geeta Iyengar think? I think it was Geeta who said, “There can be no Iyengar yoga without touch.” Happy Birthday Geeta. May your teachings and BKS Iyengar’s teachings survive Iyengar yoga.

#TRUTH

I’ve taken a break from writing this blog for no other reason than I have been busy. Obviously blog writing is not my source of income, it’s just my way of taking action against something I feel is hugely unjust against someone I consider amazingly generous and giving. Such is life, but sometimes standing idly by pretending behavior is normal when you know in your heart and gut it is not, doesn’t feel good. A similar scenario is playing out with one of the U.S. political parties as I write this. I see many similarities within the Iyengar yoga system for many of the same reasons.

It’s been so long since IYNAUS took away Manouso’s certification given to him by BKS Iyengar and subsequently initiated a hunt for teachers who study with him. I find it amazing that the situation hasn’t died down more than it has. But, alas, one of his accusers continues to hassle anyone she suspects of studying with Manouso including Manouso’s wife, Rita. She sends emails, calls them out on social media, leaves voicemails etc. The independent investigator spent 10 hours interviewing this woman and substantiated her testimony, though she didn’t speak with anyone at Manouso’s studio to corroborate her story. In her testimony, the accuser said her boyfriend witnessed the assault. Mind you, I had never seen the word labia in print so many times until I read the report. That was a stunning use of the word labia. In any case, she claimed her boyfriend witnessed Manouso’s foot on her labia for a minute or more while she was fully clothed in a crowded public yoga class. Okay. Since the investigator didn’t corroborate her story, I did. Here’s what I found:

Then I saw this same accuser on social media threatening another teacher at Manouso’s studio so I contacted that teacher and here’s the reply,

And that’s just for starters….