March 5, 2012

Sadly Mistaken. ~ Olga F’gold


If you haven’t read the New York Times latest attack on yoga, please see link.

As I’m sure many people feel attacked and bewildered with the NYT’s consistent publishing on negative attributes of yoga. At one point, we have to begin wondering why? Could it be that one of yoga’s positive effects is a lack of concern with fear based mentality? I wonder if, at some point, funders of the NYT began realizing that practitioners of yoga began losing interest in newspapers whose entire contents are meant to “inform” their audience of horrible events occurring around the world. A loss in a fear based mentality equals a loss in newspaper profits.

If I were a publisher for a paper, I can’t really say if I’d do anything differently. However, stating that sexual assault and violence are a direct cause of practicing Hatha yoga is taking it a little too far.

“One factor is ignorance. Yoga teachers and how-to books seldom mention that the discipline began as a sex cult ––  an omission that leaves many practitioners open to libidinal surprise.”

“Early in the 20th century, the founders of modern yoga worked hard to remove the Tantric stain. They devised a sanitized discipline that played down the old eroticism for a new emphasis on health and fitness.”

Ron Sombilon Gallery

“At Rutgers University, scientists are investigating how yoga and related practices can foster autoerotic bliss. It turns out that some individuals can think themselves into states of sexual ecstasy — a phenomenon known clinically as spontaneous orgasm and popularly as “thinking off.””

“If yoga can arouse everyday practitioners, it apparently has similar, if not greater, effects on gurus –– often charming extroverts in excellent physical condition, some enthusiastic for veneration.”

“But perhaps –– if students and teachers knew more about what Hatha can do, and what it was designed to do — they would find themselves less prone to surprise and unyogalike distress.”

What, what? 

As a survivor of sexual assault I am horrified to read ‘yogis’ should be less prone to surprise when sexual assault is identified in their communities. We should absolutely continue to be horrified. I would love for someone to tell me a community in which one member has not committed an act of sexual violence. This disease exists among teachers, doctors, neighbors, office CEO’s, religious leaders, community leaders, and the list goes on. With the latest statistics claiming, one if four women will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. I find it hard to swallow that hatha yoga increases this ratio. Sexual manipulation and assault is a disease of power and control. It has very little to do with hatha yoga.

I wish this article discussed more about the positive effects in can have on victims and survivors.

“Science has begun to clarify the inner mechanisms. In Russia and India, scientists have measured sharp rises in testosterone –– a main hormone of sexual arousal in both men and women. Czech scientists working with electroencephalographs have shown how poses can result in bursts of brainwaves indistinguishable from those of lovers.

More recently, scientists at the University of British Columbia have documented how fast breathing –– done in many yoga classes –– can increase blood flow through the genitals. The effect was found to be strong enough to promote sexual arousal not only in healthy individuals but among those with diminished libidos.”
“The Rutgers scientists use brain scanners to measure the levels of excitement in women and compare their responses with readings from manual stimulation of the genitals. The results demonstrate that both practices light up the brain in characteristic ways and produce significant rises in blood pressure, heart rate and tolerance for pain –– what turns out to be a signature of orgasm.”

Victims struggle to understand their bodies and feel disconnected from their sexual organs. As a sexual survivor myself, Yoga has saved my life.I’ve heard numerous reports

ξωαŋ ThΦt (slowly back…)

from other survivors who agree. It helped me connect with my sexual organs not feel shame or hate around them. It has opened the emotional pain I hold in my hips. It has healed my personal life and taught me to love myself again. Through connecting to my body in yoga I’ve learned orgasms are blissful, not hurtful.

To the unfortunate women who have been hurt by a leader in the community I feel for you. My assault happened in a community where people dedicated their lives to helping children of assault – sick right? It’s hard to grasp that someone who dedicated themselves to positive work can be so sick inside. These people transcend sex, race, religion, culture, and class. They are people among us who need some serious help.

However, associating Hatha yoga with this disease is another way of victimizing sexual assault. It again blames something else than the actual perpetrator. This is completely unacceptable.

“To denounce the philanderers would be to admit years of empty study and devotion. So many women ended up blaming themselves.

That quote is absolutely victim blaming. To denounce the philanderer, is to denounce the philanderer and nothing else. If I were to denounce the organization I worked with because they unknowingly hired a sick diseased human is to ignore 25 years of healing the organization has given thousands of children. To blame an organization or an ideal is to allow the culprit an excuse to victimize.

So, yoga community, I hope you continue to be alarmed and shocked when we find one among our community. We should always be shocked. Because that anger is simply grief that people do not meet our standards. Those standards are great; they help others rise to be better for themselves, their families, and their communities.

To new practitioners, I hope this doesn’t dissuade you from practicing. Please remember, anyone who tells you they are a guru, is a crackpot. The only guru is the little voice inside you. The one that if you continue to practice will become strengthened and help guide you in this crazy world we live in. If that light in you disagrees with me, that’s good too, for I’m not right, I’m only sharing my one little opinion.

A link to help you along your journey: http://www.rainn.org/statistics


Editor: Lindsay Friedman


Olga F’gold is a traveling vagabond goddess, currently trapped living a full-time job lifestyle in Boston. She keeps her soul smiling with her dedicated yoga practice, running away to the wilderness in her free time, and practicing gratitude. She loves finding things to climb, people to hug, and harnessing her inner domesticated side. If you like what you see, you can catch her meandering inspirational tidbits here.


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