August 23, 2019
Dear IYALA Community,
In April 2019, the B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States (IYNAUS) released the findings of an independent investigation of multiple reports of sexual assault – in the form of inappropriate sexual touching while teaching yoga – by Manouso Manos. As a result of the investigation, the Iyengar family revoked Manos’s Iyengar Yoga teaching certificate, the right to use Iyengar Yoga intellectual property, including the use of “Iyengar” to describe his teaching. For more information regarding the investigation see the Ethics Section of the IYNAUS website. Iyengar Yoga studios in the Los Angeles (IYALA) region – including the B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga Institute of Los Angeles (IYILA) – will no longer host Manouso Manos as a teacher.
The IYALA Board regards ethical violations of serious importance and we are deeply sorry to those who have been harmed. To those who came forward with their reports of abuse, we are grateful and value your courage. The Board has an unbending intent to prevent improper conduct, including sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and verbal abuse – including shaming and bullying – in our community.
IYALA and IYILA are committed to the highest standards of excellence in pursuing our mission: to study, teach, disseminate, and promote the art, science, and philosophy of Yoga, according to the teachings and philosophy of B.K.S. Iyengar and the Iyengar family. IYNAUS delineates ethical guidelines to which all Certified Iyengar Yoga Teachers (CIYTs) must adhere. These ethical guidelines were originally developed by B.K.S. Iyengar and correspond to the yamas and niyamas of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which are rules of conduct for all students of yoga. These ethical guidelines have been supplemented and clarified from time to time by IYNAUS and by the Iyengar family.
IYNAUS is in the process of refining and clarifying ethical guidelines for all CIYTs. Among other directives, the ethical guidelines prohibit inappropriate and non-consensual touching, sexual harassment, and sexual relationships between CIYTs and their students. To read the full description of these guidelines, see the IYNAUS website.
During the past several months, the IYALA Board has taken or initiated several steps to create a safe and welcoming environment for all members of our Association:
- We held three meetings for CIYTs and Board members that were moderated by clinical therapists, and a fourth meeting with IYNAUS President David Carpenter, providing an opportunity for the community to ask questions and gain clarity about the Manos investigation;
- We established a Compliance and Ethics Committee to oversee compliance with the rules for conduct, standards and policies that are set to guide teachers, staff and IYALA Board members. Methods for reporting unethical or inappropriate conduct by CIYTs have been posted on both the IYALA and IYILA websites; and
- We are currently revising teacher guidelines at the Institute to educate and sensitize teachers and staff on an ongoing basis about our ethical standards and guidelines, including appropriate language in speaking about trauma and harmful speech.
IYALA and IYILA are also planning future trainings regarding sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment and assault. Also, we intend to provide information to survivors and reporters of sexual assault about access to resources that will facilitate healing. We will continue to update our members as we formalize these efforts.
We emphasize that ethical behavior, consistent with the yamas and niyamas, is foundational to Iyengar Yoga. Our unwavering commitment is to preserve and maintain those principles and nurture a safe environment. In that spirit, if you have been violated in any way, or have observed a violation of another, please complete the IYNAUS form for ethical violations. Feel free to contact the IYALA Board President (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the IYALA Compliance and Ethics Committee (email@example.com) with questions about this process. We invite everyone, including survivors of sexual assault, to reach out to us and share your ideas of how we can prevent abuse and assault.
The findings of the IYNAUS investigation coincide with the fact that Manos has been of substantial benefit to many Iyengar Yoga students in our community and throughout the world. We acknowledge that many yoga practitioners have benefited from his teaching over several decades and that a deep sense of dissonance can arise from the revelations of the investigation and report. For some, valuing what they have received and experienced from Manos may lead them to dismiss the findings of the report. We certainly do not wish to erase the benefits that students have experienced. Iyengar Yoga, however, endures beyond any individual personality—and those benefits cannot blind us to the fact that the conduct, alleged and found in the investigation, is wholly inconsistent with the foundational values of Iyengar Yoga: non-violence, truthfulness, self-reflection, accountability, and compassion. IYALA remains committed to serving our community and helping all those impacted by Manos, positively and negatively, to find refuge and solace in our practice of Iyengar Yoga. We offer our deepest care to anyone Manos harmed.
The Board of Directors of the B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga Association of Los Angeles