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On Feb. 20, Bikram Choudhury — the founder of Hot Yoga and a defendant in seven civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault, rape, discrimination, harassment or wrongful termination — is scheduled to lead a week-long series of classes in Vancouver, in British Columbia. The event is advertised as “Boss is back!”
But whose “boss” exactly?
No Canadians. As news of Choudhury’s return to Vancouver spreads through the yoga community and beyond, people are taking part in an online uprising. Many responses express dismay that Choudhury – who left the United States – failed to pay a jury verdict of more than $7.4 million and was the subject of a warrant for his arrest against him in 2017 – Entry into the country could be allowed.
“Many times I feel like in yoga circles we tend to let people off the hook and avoid conflict for fear of coming off as biased or mean,” says Colin Hall, owner of Bodhi Tree Yoga in Regina. Saskatchewan. Hall, who has been teaching yoga for more than 20 years, shared an open letter with event organizers calling for the closure.
“I will not be silent,” Hall said. “I just won’t.” This sentiment has been echoed by others over the past few days. The following is an overview of what is happening.
A post titled “Bikram Choudhury (rapist and predator) is coming to Vancouver” appeared in the group “Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Earth” on the social platform Reddit. It shows the “Boss is back!” Poster used by the Canada Yoga Sports Federation (CYSF) to promote the upcoming event.
So far, the thread has received 1,500 votes and over 200 comments, including questions — rhetorical and otherwise — and suggestions.
“People are not allowed to enter Canada for much lesser crimes. I wonder how one would report this to the Border Services Agency? asked one commenter. Someone else replied with a link to the Canada Border Services Agency Watch Line.
Another commenter encouraged others to raise their concerns at Marriott Parq Vancouver, which is the location of the week-long class and lecture series with Choudhury. “Hi folks, just commenting on this post is not enough. [email protected] is their email and is 100% worth sending an email. »
January the 21st
The Vancouver Sun published the article “Controversial Bikram Yoga Founder Planned Vancouver Workshops That Raise Flags”. The article outlines the allegations against Choudhury, including that of a Vancouver woman.
On Change.org, someone started a petition called Stop Bikram Choudhury from hosting yoga seminars at the Parq Marriott in Vancouver. It collected over 2000 signatures and generated dozens of comments.
One commenter wrote: “Aren’t we proud to protect women? Another said: “This has to stop. I am with the survivors. Someone else issued a call to action, referencing the Marriott: “Maybe warn them that this outlet is not following their own code of conduct for customers.”
The petition was also shared on Twitter.
On Instagram, Hall dedicated an episode of The Yoga News, an occasional video series, to the situation in Vancouver. In the three-minute roll, he sums up the allegations against Choudhury, then says dryly, “And apparently we’re going to welcome him to Canada now.”
After asking, “Who do we have to thank for this beautiful thing? Hall answers his own question, quoting CYSF. The role then shares a screenshot of the CYSF “Contact Us” page along with their email address. “On their website they say, ‘Let’s connect,'” Hall says. “So I encourage you to tune in.”
The role ends with Hall saying, “We’re not going to put up with this. It’s not okay.”
Less than 24 hours after sharing the video with The Yoga News, Hall posted an open letter to the event organizers on Instagram, calling for the event to be canceled. The letter read: “Bikram Choudhury should never teach yoga again.
If you have been sexually assaulted, there are resources available to support you any time of the day or night. In Canada, you can call the Women’s Violence Against Women Information and Crisis Line at 877-392-7583. In the United States, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673 or contact us via confidential online chat at online.rainn.org.
About our contributors
Sarah Herrington is a writer and educator who has been teaching for over a decade. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles TimesAnd Yoga Diary and she is passionate about safety in yoga and meditation spaces. For years she taught yoga in public schools in New York City and from that experience founded the teacher training OM Schooled. She now leads mindful writing workshops that combine writing and meditation, and enjoys giving space for other writers to speak from the heart. She has MFAs from NYU and Lesley University and has over 500 hours of yoga training. She is grateful for the two paths of writing and yoga.
Renee Marie Schettler is editor-in-chief at Yoga Diary and was employed as an editor at The Washington Post, really easy, and various online media platforms. She began practicing yoga nearly 20 years ago with teachers in New York who emphasized the challenge of finding precise alignment in a posture. Her understanding of yoga changed when she began studying with teachers who believe the practice is less about how we perform the posture and more about whether we can surrender to the experience. Renee finds editing, writing, and practicing yoga to be about becoming more aware of truth. She has been teaching yoga since 2017.
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