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Who regulates sexual misconduct by yoga teachers?
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Forum Posts: 10
Member Since:
April 27, 2015
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July 15, 2009 - 11:49 pm
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If a teacher uses their position of authority to forcefully coax a student into a relationship, who would be the regulating body to have their license to teach removed? The school which certifies them? Or would it be a group such as Yoga Alliance if the teacher was registered with them to be a teacher trainer? I feel that sexual misconduct by yoga teachers is an issue no one wants to talk about and there is very little information available.

Forum Posts: 102
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April 27, 2015
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May 28, 2013 - 7:36 pm
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Just saw this thread on Facebook and decided to follow it in. Some interesting points all around, but I have to add a bit. My feeling is no adult can be forced into a lustful relationship. The urge to do the wrong thing is within all of us. You can't blame that on a yoga instructor, registry or the government. People have been in lust before primal man left the trees.

Although a few gurus have been tempted that isn't the same for all. I think you could say the same for ministers. That wasn't meant in disrespect, but ministers and gurus who play with fire tend to get burned. The mind says no but the heart says yes. There isn't a yoga instructor certification course that doesn't touch on the subject of ethics, but we are only human and humans make mistakes.


Forum Posts: 48
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April 27, 2015
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November 2, 2013 - 12:06 am
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Scandals, Ethics and Yoga Instructors

How did anyone miss all the dirt? Unfortunately, the world of yoga, despite its wholesome image and spiritual roots, is no stranger to scandals and scandalous behavior. For example, Swami Muktananda, the founder of Siddha Yoga, was recognized by almost everyone who came into contact with him as a man of great presence and possibly even spiritual power. Despite a supposed vow of celibacy, however, he was also recognized as regularly abusing his position with female students, using spiritual claims of "tantric yoga" to con them into sex. Remember Amrit Desai? Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram Yoga, has been involved in a number of controversies, the most recent of them including sexual harassment and assault. Finally, unless the reader thinks that these questionable behaviors are limited to Indian yoga teachers, the American founder of Anusara yoga, John Friend, was also ousted in 2012 as having had numerous affairs with female students and married female employees during the course of his yoga career.

What has probably been most hurtful about these scandals for yoga students over the years is that multiple yoga teachers have abused the trust and respect their students have placed in them for their own personal gain or titillation. Although the world is filled with reports of sexual assault, harassment, embezzlement, fraud and so forth, the sting is made worse, when someone who preaches a wholesome and spiritual lifestyle carries out the ethical breach.

Codes of Ethics and Behavior for Yoga Organizations

For yoga teacher associations, yoga studios and other yoga organizations, setting and maintaining a clear code of ethics is extremely important. Here are three ethical points these organizations should consider adopting:

1. Yoga instructors should maintain a healthy personal lifestyle that is in accord with the philosophy of yoga. Maintaining a healthy personal lifestyle should include actively seeking help and/or treatment for problems such as substance abuse, eating disorders, sexual addiction and similar problems that threaten the professional efficacy of the instructor.

2. Instructors should consider all forms of sexual relations with students to be anathema, down to even playful statements during teaching that could be construed as being sexual in nature. In the case that an instructor truly "falls in love" with a student and chooses to pursue a relationship, he or she should also be willing to step down from being an instructor within that yoga community if the relationship is to continue. Sexual relationships with class assistants and employees should also be considered an unethical abuse of power.

3. Class fees should always be clear and discussed up-front. Instructors should not use their personal reputation as a way of inflating class or course prices.

Are these ethical points fair? Are there ever any exceptions to the rules? Have you witnessed a breach of ethics or inadvertently been part of such a breach? Feel free to share your thoughts about a yoga instructor's code of ethics in the comments below.


Forum Posts: 66
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August 13, 2014
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May 4, 2015 - 2:42 pm
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Going to the nature of this question: The law enforcement agencies of your local government regulate harassment and assault. On the other hand, there is a public attraction to musicians, actors, politicians, yoga teachers, doctors, nurses, etc. I have to question the judgement of people who go out of their way to make life complicated. Granted, yoga teachers need to comply with industry ethics. At the same time, they are often pursued by consenting adults who want to share war stories with other students. If anyone is assaulted, that is entirely a criminal matter, but consenting adult students need to take some responsibility for their actions. I'm just tired of reading about adults who blame everyone else for their own actions. Adults need to face the fact that they are expected to take responsibility for their decisions.


Forum Posts: 98
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May 5, 2015 - 3:45 pm
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Teachers know the ethics guidelines. It is a basic part of our training and does no good to try to point the finger elsewhere.


Forum Posts: 156
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April 27, 2015
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May 8, 2015 - 3:19 pm
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Hmmm...yogis behaving badly makes great headlines. The media circus loves scandals because they will make profits. Teachers are told what to avoid, but people are human. In today's social media society anyone who teaches needs to breathe slowly, sit on their hands, and think before speaking or touching.

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