Please note: the full transcript of this interview is available at: matthewremski.com/wordpress/karen-rain-speaks-about-pattabhi-jois-and-recovering-from-sexual-and-spiritual-abuse-video-interview/
We'd like to start with a trigger warning:
This interview conveys details of sexual assault and the silencing of a victim of sexual assault. The descriptions are detailed and emotionally charged.
One of our supportive advisors offered the following feedback: that viewers leave good time for self-care while engaging with it. They suggested that this might be especially important not only for those whose trauma occurred in yoga spaces, but also those who have gone to yoga for healing.
Karen Rain's writings on her experience with Pattabhi Jois and Ashtanga Yoga can be found here: karenrainashtangayogaandmetoo.wordpress.com/.
Matthew Remski's writings on adverse experiences in yoga practice can be found here: matthewremski.com/wordpress/wawadia-main/. His article on Pattabhi Jois and sexual assault, featuring Karen's voice and the voices of eight other women, can be found here: thewalrus.ca/yogas-culture-of-sexual-abuse-nine-women-tell-their-stories/
00:07:32: Matthew was able to find Karen through a conversation with Elizabeth Kadetsky, who knew about Karen's name change.
00:09:20: Anneke Lucas' groundbreaking post was first published in 2010, detailing an experience from 2010. She describes her experience in this panel discussion:embodiedphilosophy.courses/abuse-of-power. So does Marissa Sullivan, who also gave testimony for The Walrus article.
00:04:15: In our first interview, on June 4th, 2016, Karen spoke about the assaults in this way: "Yes, he groped me. No doubt about it. His adjustments on me were inappropriate."
00:10:40: Since filming this interview, Matthew has heard second-hand reports of Jois sexually assaulting two male practitioners. These have not been corroborated. It is important to mention that Karen had heard accounts of digital penetration or rape at the time of the interview but was not comfortable mentioning it until a victim came forward to confirm in print.
00:15:52: The woman's name was Catherine Tisseront. Originally French, she lived, taught, and died in Seattle. Correction: Since filming the interview, we have been informed that her cancer was not breast but ovarian cancer, which progressed to her spine and finally brain. This is an important detail, but it does not change the points made here.
00:27:27: The video in question is here (trigger warning): decolonizingyoga.com/pattabhi-jois-yoga-adjustments/. Between 2012 and 2015 it was deleted from YouTube and Vimeo, at least once at the request of a senior Ashtanga teacher.
00:46:25: In Karen's statement of complicity she also wants to apologize to anyone if she ever minimized or dismissed their unpleasant impression of or experience with Pattabhi Jois.
00:49:14: Addendum from Karen: "In the light of the abuses of Pattabhi Jois, I suggest the re-invention of Ashtanga Yoga without him. This is not the best choice of words. A few AY teachers have made the points that if they just omit Pattabhi Jois from the history of Ashtanga yoga, wouldn’t that be a kind of denial? Wouldn’t we all be losing an opportunity to learn and help prevent abuse from happening again, both within Ashtanga and elsewhere? Thus I would like to correct my statement to: I would like a re-invention of Ashtanga yoga to use accurate language for his actions, to use sexual abuse and assault rather than the euphemisms of inappropriate adjustment or assists and that the fact that he was a serial sex offender be integrated in the story of his life as well as the history of Ashtanga yoga."
00:58:06: Here is Kathleen Rea's Contact Jam info: reasondetre.com/wedjam.html. Here is a great blog she wrote about boundary issues and solutions in that community: contactimprovconsentculture.com/2017/12/03/first-blog-post/.
01:03:05: Addendum from Karen: "What has helped me the most is friendship. I have a wonderful and supportive partner and friends. The support I get from people I haven’t met is also extremely helpful. I want to clarify that people who message me to support me and say I am helping them are helping me heal. They inspire me and help give me the strength to be the courageous person I want to be. They help me to face the backlash which is painful and triggering and does interfere with my healing. Speaking out is an obligation to myself, my healing and part of restoring my agency. I'm also committed to raising awareness/speaking out against sexual, spiritual and institutional abuse. At times it can be very scary and painful. It’s new for me to be doing this with my own personal story and history of repetitive abuse. I’m learning how to speak up and balance taking care of myself."