Apology to the Victims of Pattabhi Jois Sexual Assault

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Here a letter from Guy Donahaye (erstwhile’s editor of Guruji – A Portait Through the Eyes of his Students) from the 18th May 2019. It’s an excellent example of somebody who took part in KP Jois’s unrealistic glorification now taking steps to come clear. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Guy.

Guy encourages here other Ashtanga teachers to come forth with an apology and to not think about themselves but the victims. As I couln’dt find the letter on Guy’s blog page (https://yogamindmedicine.blogspot.com/) but only on his FB page I’m posting it here because it’s very important in our attempt to bring about a renewal of our Ashtanga culture. At the end you find a link to Guy’s FB group where people can sign in support (as I have done, too). Guy’s actions are very encouraging and in stark contrast to those members of the hierarchy who, after benefiting from and enabling KP Jois for decades now simply drop him from their websites and bios and act as if he didn’t exist.

“Message sent to all Certified Ashtanga Teachers:

Dear Friends

My apologies for the group email.

I am sure none of you are unaware of the discussion around Pattabhi Jois behavior.

No doubt, some of you are on the fence regarding whether his actions should be classified as sexually abusive or misguided in some way.

There is huge pain amongst those who have been violated by his actions and there is a huge judgment and pain amongst many of those who practice and teach Ashtanga Yoga as well as folks outside our community.

There has been scant acknowledgement either of the pain suffered or the wrong actions performed by Pattabhi Jois.
Whether these actions were deliberate or simply misguided, they definitely fall within the current definition of sexual abuse:

Actions that target the sexual organs, that control and violate individuals but are not necessarily erotic in nature or intention.

As leaders and elders of the community, I believe it is our duty to initiate healing and acknowledgement of the suffering caused to those who have been impacted by his actions.

Making a statement is not about judging Pattabhi Jois, it is about helping those who have been harmed. By setting an example, by acknowledging what happened we can pave the way for others who were not there, or who did not see anything, to add their supportive voices and be of service to those who have suffered pain and trauma.

Euphemisms such as inappropriate touch rather than owning the statement “sexual abuse” as well as statements that imply the subjectivity of the victims experience have the effect of re-traumatization and re-victimization.

Many of you have promoted Pattabhi Jois, have hosted him in your schools and in your homes and a good number of you have seen and heard things that you have not shared publicly. Many of you have also sent students to study in Mysore with the knowledge that students were in danger of being abused.

Beyond making a statement about the nature of his actions, we thus also have a duty to apologize for not saying anything earlier – statements that could have protected many of those who became his victims.

I know it is very difficult to know how or what to say as individuals, but maybe together it will be easier. Some of you have made statements, some of you have been speaking about it for years, some of you think you have done what is right already and some of you feel you don’t really know if what he did constitutes abuse.

BUT – the most important thing is to help those who have been harmed. Regardless of our personal view regarding what happened, we can contribute towards real healing. Surely that is the most important thing. Not to engage because of a desire to protect our reputations or because we think we have already done what is right is damaging to others – to engage and make a statement will facilitate healing.

Eddie and I met yesterday and decided to request that our publisher withdraw the book of interviews from publication as a recognition of the wrong message it sends.

I hope you can find it in your hearts to join this initiative and be willing to co-sign a statement that can be published on the internet.

The statement can be simple:

“We acknowledge that Pattabhi Jois sexually abused many of his students.”
“We apologize to the victims for not saying anything publicly sooner.”

I have created a facebook page that can be signed by anyone:

https://www.facebook.com/AVPJSA/

Additional statements could be appended.
Today is the 10th anniversary of Pattabhi Jois’s death.
It would be an auspicious day to make a statement where there could otherwise be a move to further eulogize him.

With love and respect to you all,
Guy”

About Gregor Maehle

Gregor Maehle began his practice of Raja Yoga in 1978 and added Hatha Yoga a few years later. For almost two decades he yearly travelled to India where he studied with various yogic and tantric masters. Since then he has branched out into research of the anatomical alignment of postures and the higher limbs of Yoga. He obtained his anatomical knowledge through a Health Practitioner degree and has also studied History, Philosophy and Comparative Religion. Gregor lived many years as a recluse, studying Sanskrit, yogic scripture and practising yogic techniques. He has published a series of textbooks on all major aspects of yoga. His mission is to re-integrate ashtanga vinyasa practice into the larger framework of Patanjali’s eight-limbed yoga in the spirit of T. Krishnamacharya. He offers trainings, retreats and workshops worldwide.
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Gregor Maehle began his practice of Raja Yoga in 1978 and added Hatha Yoga a few years later. For almost two decades he yearly travelled to India where he studied with various yogic and tantric masters. Since then he has branched out into research of the anatomical alignment of postures and the higher limbs of Yoga. He obtained his anatomical knowledge through a Health Practitioner degree and has also studied History, Philosophy and Comparative Religion. Gregor lived many years as a recluse, studying Sanskrit, yogic scripture and practising yogic techniques. He has published a series of textbooks on all major aspects of yoga. His mission is to re-integrate ashtanga vinyasa practice into the larger framework of Patanjali’s eight-limbed yoga in the spirit of T. Krishnamacharya. He offers trainings, retreats and workshops worldwide.

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