Sexual assault permeates all cultures. I should not have been so surprised to learn the yoga world and community has experienced vast amounts of sexual assault. But I was surprised.
Recently, Rachel Brathen, aka Yoga Girl, recently collected and published “#MeToo – The Yoga Stories.” I was in denial that sexual assault happened, and so frequently, in what I believed was the extremely safe and protected yoga world. But she received over 300 submissions from females sharing their experiences of sexual assault in a yoga setting.
When presented with facts, it is hard to deny the truth. I finally sat down yesterday to read some of the stories. They were all different experiences from different people but all the stories left me feeling the same way; sick to my stomach and super uncomfortable because this is not okay. I had no personal experience with sexual assault in the yoga setting and I never heard of it happening to anyone I knew who practiced, this made it easier to deny the truth. When reading the stories, I felt like I was being betrayed by someone I trusted and confided in.
Reading all these stories shook my faith a bit. The yoga world is a safe place. It is a place where people go to heal. I remember when I first started practicing, my first teacher told me people find yoga when they need a change. He was right. I needed a change and I worked it out on my mat and then I began to bring what I learned into my everyday life. Yoga has healed me and helped me in many ways, from injuries to broken hearts. The physical practice of yoga has always been there but so has the yoga community. No matter where in the country I was practicing, I always found a yoga community where I felt safe and respected.
But like I said, sexual assault permeates all cultures. No community can escape it even if the community creates a safe and healing environment. As long as there are males who feel like they have a right to touch women’s bodies however and whenever the please, there will be sexual assault, even in the yoga world. It hurts me that this is true. It disgusts me that men in the yoga world take advantage of women looking for healing and a safe place. It disgusts me that men in the yoga world use their perceived power as a teacher to sexually assault women. It is not right and it is not okay.
There is a positive. There are people in this world, like Rachel Brathen, who made it her own personal mission to collect stories and publish them for all the world to read. There are male yoga teachers who help students heal and create a safe place for them. The regular world nor the yoga world is not all bad. But there are a disgusting amount of men who do bad things just because they can. I am proud of the women who are speaking up about these injustices. I honored to be part of community who is saying sexual assault is not right and it is not okay. The dialogue is changing and we have to keep speaking up.
Here is the link to #MeToo – The Yoga Stories: http://rachelbrathen.com/metoo-yoga-stories/