Yoga as Sexual Stimulation

Non participant ladies upset

What precisely did they expect?

Abuse of trust or power?

The roots of yoga in sex cults have emerged again in the US, to the chagrin of disillusioned practitioners among older women. A salacious summary by Wiliam Broad appears today, to fan the flames.

Yoga and Sex Scandals: No Surprise Here

The wholesome image of yoga took a hit in the past few weeks as a rising star of the discipline came tumbling back to earth. After accusations of sexual impropriety with female students, John Friend, the founder of Anusara, one of the world’s fastest-growing styles, told followers that he was stepping down for an indefinite period of “self-reflection, therapy and personal retreat.”
Mr. Friend preached a gospel of gentle poses mixed with openness aimed at fostering love and happiness. But Elena Brower, a former confidante, has said that insiders knew of his “penchant for women” and his love of “partying and fun.”

Few had any idea about his sexual indiscretions, she added. The apparent hypocrisy has upset many followers.

“Those folks are devastated,” Ms. Brower wrote in The Huffington Post. “They’re understandably disappointed to hear that he cheated on his girlfriends repeatedly” and “lied to so many.”

But this is hardly the first time that yoga’s enlightened facade has been cracked by sexual scandal. Why does yoga produce so many philanderers? And why do the resulting uproars leave so many people shocked and distraught?

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.

Hatha yoga — the parent of the styles now practiced around the globe — began as a branch of Tantra. In medieval India, Tantra devotees sought to fuse the male and female aspects of the cosmos into a blissful state of consciousness.

The rites of Tantric cults, while often steeped in symbolism, could also include group and individual sex. One text advised devotees to revere the female sex organ and enjoy vigorous intercourse. Candidates for worship included actresses and prostitutes, as well as the sisters of practitioners.

Hatha originated as a way to speed the Tantric agenda. It used poses, deep breathing and stimulating acts — including intercourse — to hasten rapturous bliss. In time, Tantra and Hatha developed bad reputations. The main charge was that practitioners indulged in sexual debauchery under the pretext of spirituality.

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.

B. K. S. Iyengar, the author of “Light on Yoga,” published in 1965, exemplified the change. His book made no mention of Hatha’s Tantric roots and praised the discipline as a panacea that could cure nearly 100 ailments and diseases. And so modern practitioners have embraced a whitewashed simulacrum of Hatha.

But over the decades, many have discovered from personal experience that the practice can fan the sexual flames. Pelvic regions can feel more sensitive and orgasms more intense.

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.

In India, recent clinical studies have shown that men and women who take up yoga report wide improvements in their sex lives, including enhanced feelings of pleasure and satisfaction as well as emotional closeness with partners.

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.”

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.

Since the baby boomers discovered yoga, the arousal, sweating, heavy breathing and states of undress that characterize yoga classes have led to predictable results. In 1995, sex between students and teachers became so prevalent that the California Yoga Teachers Association deplored it as immoral and called for high standards.

“We wrote the code,” Judith Lasater, the group’s president, told a reporter, “because there were so many violations going on.”

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.

The misanthropes among them offer a bittersweet tribute to yoga’s revitalizing powers. A surprising number, it turns out, were in their 60s and 70s.

Swami Muktananda (1908-82) was an Indian man of great charisma who favored dark glasses and gaudy robes.

At the height of his fame, around 1980, he attracted many thousands of devotees — including movie stars and political celebrities — and succeeded in setting up a network of hundreds of ashrams and meditation centers around the globe. He kept his main shrines in California and New York.

In late 1981, when a senior aide charged that the venerated yogi was in fact a serial philanderer and sexual hypocrite who used threats of violence to hide his duplicity, Mr. Muktananda defended himself as a persecuted saint, and soon died of heart failure.

Joan Bridges was one of his lovers. At the time, she was 26 and he was 73. Like many other devotees, Ms. Bridges had a difficult time finding fault with a man she regarded as a virtual god beyond law and morality.

“I was both thrilled and confused,” she said of their first intimacy in a Web posting. “He told us to be celibate, so how could this be sexual? I had no answers.”

To denounce the philanderers would be to admit years of empty study and devotion. So many women ended up blaming themselves. Sorting out the realities took years and sometimes decades of pain and reflection, counseling and psychotherapy. In time, the victims began to fight back.

Swami Satchidananda (1914-2002) was a superstar of yoga who gave the invocation at Woodstock. In 1991, protesters waving placards (“Stop the Abuse,” “End the Cover Up”) marched outside a Virginia hotel where he was addressing a symposium.

“How can you call yourself a spiritual instructor,” a former devotee shouted from the audience, “when you have molested me and other women?”

Another case involved Swami Rama (1925-96), a tall man with a strikingly handsome face. In 1994, one of his victims filed a lawsuit charging that he had initiated abuse at his Pennsylvania ashram when she was 19. In 1997, shortly after his death, a jury awarded the woman nearly $2 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

So, too, former devotees at Kripalu, a Berkshires ashram, won more than $2.5 million after its longtime guru — a man who gave impassioned talks on the spiritual value of chastity — confessed to multiple affairs.

The drama with Mr. Friend is still unfolding. So far, at least 50 Anusara teachers have resigned, and the fate of his enterprise remains unclear. In his letter to followers, he promised to make “a full public statement that will transparently address the entirety of this situation.”

The angst of former Anusara teachers is palpable. “I can no longer support a teacher whose actions have caused irreparable damage to our beloved community,” Sarah Faircloth, a North Carolina instructor, wrote on her Web site.

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.

More salacious testimony at leavingsiddhayoga

I am one of the girls that Baba had sex with in his room on the now infamous table, at Shree Muktananda Ashram. I was 26 years old at the time this happenened; Baba was about 73. This year, I turned 50. I have spent a lot of the past year coming to terms with what happened to me when I was just 26 years old, so long ago.( You must
realize,for me there was no choice,I considered him God incarnate,I would have jumped in front of a trunk if he told me to at that time. ) And, for all the years in between, I have struggled with the meaning of my experience: was it a great tantric blessing, was it
not a blessing at all, why am I so confused? I searched books for answers, left SY, I came back to SY, I left again, and on and on. The truth is, I was stuck in the past, frozen in that room in my 26th year, trying to make sense of it all since then.

The science of seduction

From a scientific point of view the phenomenon has aspects related to hypnotism, under the general heading of framing ie seduction achieved by framing the action in the mind of the seductee in a way which makes it moral and acceptable, even a part of worship. Exactly why women are susceptible to this kind of persuasion by rearranging their minds conceptually until the social cum moral obstacles are removed is a matter for psychologists to explain to us. Presumably it has to do with paternal authority, or some other confusion of power with permission and aphrodisiac.

As always where the line is to be drawn seems to be a function of cultural mores and individual psychology. Words after all have been a most powerful tool for seducers since time immemorial. The issue is where cultural sanctions come in, since they are evidently capable of crippling a woman’s emotional life in the aftermath of such a seduction.

This is the basis for laws against teachers seducing students which have been established in certain US states, often with consequences which seem to be debatable ie severe punishment for incidents which would be permissible in other cultural contexts.

For example the story at Teacher’s ‘four-month affair with her student, 17, revealed when they were caught having sex in a school bathroom

The undersheriff was clear that no illicit sex happened at the high school when the two were discovered on February 9, as the student was 18 – and considered an adult – at the time.
Per Colorado state law, a 17-year-old can have a sexual relationship with an adult of any age as long as it is consensual. However, the latter cannot be considered a person of trust.
Mr McWilliam told MailOnline that a person of trust is ‘anybody who would be responsible for care – namely, we use it for teachers.’
He said: ‘If she weren’t a teacher, it wouldn’t be a criminal act.’

Another case where the punishment was excessive by most standards was Elementary school teacher, 39, jailed for FORTY years for her affair with boy of 14

An elementary school teacher has been jailed for 40 years for having sex with a 14-year-old student.
Shannon Alicia Schmieder, 39, was told she will have to serve 20 years – by far the toughest sentence ever handed out by a U.S. court to an educator accused of underage sex.
Legal experts said the jail term was the same for manslaughter and other serious crimes.
The 39-year-old knew the boy since he was born and was at one stage like a mother-figure to him, according to his family.
His mother said: ‘She was a close family friend. We had gone to the same church together for 10 years. Our children were friends. Our families were friends. We did everything together. It’s impossible to describe how we felt to find out this was going on.’
The victim’s parents noticed a change in the relationship between their then 13-year-old son and Schmieder, saying she was acting more like a friend than a parental figure.
It was when they opened the boys Facebook page they realized something was wrong.
The mother said: ‘Never in a million years did I think I would find what I thought was evidence of inappropriate behavior between them. But there it was.’
The sentence was handed out after the mother of his young victim spoke of her ‘heartache and betrayal’ after discovering her son was involved with Schmieder.
In an emotional impact statement to the court, the mother spoke of the loss of innocence of her son and how she is struggling to come to terms with what happened to him.
The mother said: ‘As a mother of five boys, there are some things I’ve thought I would never have to worry about. April of last year our world was turned upside down.
‘We were told by investigators that our 14-year-old was a victim of child molestation. This was horrifying and unbelievable. I prayed that this was not true.

Here’s one commenter disagreeing with the sentence:

I read the article. The mother goes on forever about her own feelings of heartache and betrayal, and how SHE’S trying to come to terms with it. And all this is being said in the press! Only one mention of the effects on the boy, and that is that he is now having trust issues (cue the gasps). I’m quite sure. If my mom was splashing the most intimate parts of my life across the internet where every employer and girl friend will be able to find it for the next 100 years, she would most certainly find that I had “trust” issues, and they would start with her. Where is the husband, with a little more sense, to put a muzzle on her. Meanwhile, he’s out bragging to his mates on facebook. Sounds like he’s positively traumatized. DM has a story a week about this. You never hear about the “outrage” of the husband, and the evidence in the majority of the cases is the same, the young man bragging about it. It seems like she got 40 years for making a mother angry, the kid seems fine with it. Travesty
– resident, somewhere in America, 18/2/2012 16:12

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