I read an article of the New York Times online today. The title is ‘Yoga and Sex Scandals: No Surprise Here’ by William J. Broad. In this article, the author describes present and past sex scandals of yoga teachers and gurus and basically says that yoga itself is the logical reason for those scandals as yoga is all about sex. Apart from this main argument, there are many points in this article that I don’t agree with and I thought to share my views with you.
The author starts off saying that people are surprised about their yoga teachers’ sexual relations, as it is the case in the recent revelation of John Friend’s sexual relations. Students are shocked about the founder of Anusara Yoga having cheated on various girlfriends. According to Broad however, they should not have been surprised, because he believes yoga began as a sex cult.
Yes, that is right. He states that Hatha Yoga, the physical postures, were a part of Tantra practice. In his opinion Tantra was used for reaching sexual bliss and Hatha Yoga used for speeding that up a bit.
The picture that is presented here is very, very wrong! I know that Tantra has this bad name in the west for being just all about sex but I cannot say enough times that this is absolutely not the truth about Tantra. Tantra is about life. Sex is obviously a part of it but Tantra is not all about sex! In the west, Indian philosophers presented Tantra as a sexual practice because in this way they could attract people and money. Everybody is fascinated about sex, so when they took an old philosophy like tantra and told about it as sex parties, people liked the idea and that is how its bad name spread. Stories about white, red and black Tantra were added but Tantra is not all about sex.
And Yoga was never a part of Tantra! Now you mixed Hatha Yoga into Tantra although they are in no way connected! And your conclusion is that because of that, there have been so many yoga teachers and gurus with sex scandals – because yoga stimulates the sexual organs! I have a big objection to the line ‘Why does yoga produce so many philanderers?’
There is obviously a great number of famous yoga gurus who have been accused of sexual impropriety and he mentions several of them: Swami Muktananda, Swami Satchidananda and Swami Rama. The list does not end there though. I have written about TM founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, whose students tell about having sex with him, Nithyananda, whose sexual activities were exposed through a video secretly filmed in his bedroom and we read about Swami Maheshwarananda, the founder of Yoga in Daily Life and ex-followers report of his sexual activities, too. There are many more to be added to this list.
All those people he mentioned as gurus in his text and those whom I added are sanyasis according to Hindu religion. A sanyasi is celibate, just like monks and priests in Catholic Church. They are not supposed to have sex and that is why it is such a shock when their followers find out in the end that they actually have lots of sex. Many of them preach celibacy themselves while enjoying sexual pleasures with many.
This is where the problem starts. Celibacy, not Hatha Yoga, brings the problem. They stop the natural flow of human emotions. They teach yoga and tell people to resist sexual pleasures but in the end surrender themselves – of course secretly. And now people come and blame yoga instead of blaming celibacy and the wrong teaching that a person of high consciousness or religiousness has to be celibate. What would you say about the sexual offenders in Catholic Church? They were not doing yoga! They had the same problem – celibacy.
The author of that article however is convinced that yoga is the reason for people having lots of sex. He says ‘the arousal, sweating, heavy breathing and states of undress that characterize yoga classes have led to predictable results’. How are those the characteristics of yoga? When does yoga tell you to undress? When we were in America, we were once invited to a nude yoga class – we refused – but that is not usual and definitely not required in yoga classes! About every sport includes ‘sweating, heavy breathing’ and, if you prefer doing that sport with less clothes, a ‘state of undress’! You can play football at the beach just in your bathing clothes or even naked but that is not how you normally play it! This does not mean that it is a characteristic for football!
Now I come to the most important point which is the essence of this complete article. The author says that yoga is so arousing that those gurus could obviously not control themselves. He gives scientific proof that yoga stimulates your sexual organs and increases testosterone in the body. Well, any sport that moves the body gives you energy and it is proven that physically active people have more sex. It is obvious, as yoga is for the complete body, that it also has an effect on your sexual organs and even some sexual problems can be healed through yoga. It does not mean however that everybody who practices yoga likes to have orgies!
Wouldn’t this mean that all Hatha Yoga teachers are dreaming of having sex with their students all the time and they cannot help it? Does this mean that every yoga student is aroused after a yoga class? Does that mean that after an hour of yoga practice you have so much sexual power that you have to cheat on your partner? I don’t think so!
That article is actually very disrespectful for many great yogis, people who have devoted their lives to yoga and every single person in this world today who loves yoga. There are millions of people on this earth who enjoy yoga as a part of their lives and who know what Hatha Yoga does not teach them to sleep with hundreds of different people! Yoga teachers and yoga students, raise your voice against such ideas and such nonsense! That is insulting you directly! You are not in a cult and you are not practicing the rituals of any cult! Have you experienced that yoga gave your sex life a boost? Great, but it does not make you a nymphomaniac or philanderer, does it?
If you are a yoga teacher or a yoga lover, please tell me whether this is the result of yoga in your life! Is that what yoga gave you? I don’t think so! Ask your yoga teachers and your yoga students, too. I believe you will rather get answers about how much richer, peaceful and balanced yoga has made their lives, how much joy and power it brought to them. Maybe also to their love lives – but in a loving and healthy way.