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The Just End to An Era

I trained in SF with Yoga to the People last year, and have worked for them since last may. Yoga to the People is now silently closing for good. In it's silence the company may have you believe it’s due to covid closures or just hard times but this would be another form of manipulation and another guise for misconduct. It’s because it has comet to light that our founder sexually assaulted many of the teachers in his charge and many have spoken out about it in the past few days. The company has left the burden of sharing this with students on the very teachers who were abused by the system and the owner.

I always revered Yoga to the People not for its false guru of an owner (and apparent sexual predator, though I never knew this until last week) but for the community that it brought together. To me YTTP was those people who were mentors to me in the every day. Those who showed up to support me, to teach me, and to love me. Greg was just a person, I only met him a handful of times so I had no way of knowing the gross misconduct he had been inflicting upon those closest to the inner circle of the company. I am devastated to learn of his sexual assault history, and the trickle down manipulation that ran wild at Yttp. I am almost equally devastated to lose a solid community of some of the best people I know, and physical spaces I held so sacred.

I’d always known Yttp had its problems. After my TT which I honestly feel was really powerful in my life (even now), I fell into the cycle of working without pay to get more paid work easily as I didn’t have a lot else going on. I did a number of unpaid projects before my managers finally convinced Greg that I deserved more pay for this work, in this instance my managers were my advocates. I worked the system well, and the system in turn worked for me. Prior to the pandemic I was teaching nearly 8 classes a week and updating notice boards in all Bay Area studios for a small bit of extra pay. I experienced the anxiety of always needing to be available, of needing to continue showing up even more as I strove towards becoming a “senior teacher”. I watched as my sangha of tt’s (those I trained with directly) started to fall away, or else were left behind as I and a few others progressed through the company. I benefited from this system of abuse and it is perhaps that which saddens me most of all. I fell into order even as I saw some of the problems clearly. I needed the work and I loved teaching. I’m so sorry for anyone who experienced the worst of it, I’m sorry for not speaking up.

I cherished time spent with my mentors (our founder was thankfully never among them). But I also saw them struggle as their values continued to go ignored in the grander picture of Yttp. I gladly subbed classes they were too stressed or upset to teach, I just never fully understood what was making them feel that way.

I am lucky to have never experienced the sexual abuse and misconduct many others have, but I believe them. I see clearly how the system perpetuated such things even though I was never privy to what was really going on.

As for the trickle down of manipulation I definitely felt it. There was a constant fear of doing the wrong thing and losing value to the company. I had intense anxiety around answering phone calls, texts, and emails. I would show up and pay for events I didn’t want to participate in because I feared reprimand or loss of paid work if I did not. I was constantly careful and vigilant not to say the wrong thing, afraid in some cases of speaking my mind. I don’t however fault those I directly interacted with because it is so clearly a product of the abuse and manipulation they had experienced in their climb to those positions. Of course that doesn’t excuse it, but it certainly explains it. I hold no ill will for any of those who were my direct superiors at YttP.

I am saddened deeply by all that has come to light but I still grieve the loss of the good parts- the classes I shared with people I loved, and all that I learned along the way. I wish we could retake the roots of what made YTTP such a special place for so many. I wish we could reclaim the territory of studios that are now tainted by the abuse experienced by many there. I wish we could be a collective, a community separate from these things but maybe our experiences have been colored by too much now, and I am really truly sorry for that and any part I played by keeping quiet.

I stand by @yttpshadowwork and all those survivors. You are still my community, and I still hold space for you.

This type of abuse runs rapid in yoga, meditation, and spiritual communities, look at Greg’s mentor Bikram, or Nahko, or Osho. This happens too often and it needs to be addressed.

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