Six women came forward with allegations dating from 2005 on, as well as a number of bystanders who observed sexual assault by Manouso Manos. But allegations against him date decades back, as KQED has previously reported: Four women contacted an investigator about their accusations from incidents in the 1980s. (Mark Fiore/KQED)
Updated April 11, 2:30 p.m. with comments from survivors and experts. Reader advisory: Some accounts of sexual abuse in this story contain explicit details and strong language that some may find upsetting or objectionable.
One woman said her yoga teacher, Manouso Manos, stuck his toe into her vagina through her tights while she was in a seated pose. Another woman said he stroked her genitals while she was performing a standing yoga pose. And yet another said he put his finger in her anus through her clothing while she was in a standing pose, bent over with her head toward the ground.
An investigation into Manos, a prominent international yoga teacher based in San Francisco, has found that several allegations of “inappropriate sexual touching” during classroom instruction have “proven to be true,” according to a report released April 5 by the national body overseeing the Iyengar tradition in the United States.
Manos, a disciple of and right-hand man to the founder of Iyengar, B.K.S. Iyengar, used adjustments of yoga poses as a cover to sexually abuse students and to groom them for such acts, wrote Bernadette Sargeant, an independent investigator and Washington, D.C., lawyer hired by the Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States (IYNAUS) to conduct the probe.
Manos, through a spokesman, said last fall that he denied all allegations — past and present. “Manos emphatically denies any wrongdoing,” the spokesman said in a statement on Friday.
Six women came forward to Sargeant with allegations dating from 2005 on, as well as a number of bystanders who observed sexual assault by Manos. But allegations against him date decades back, as KQED has previously reported: Four women contacted Sargeant with accusations from incidents in the 1980s.
As a result of the report’s findings, Manos can no longer use the Iyengar Yoga name or certification mark in the name of his studio or in connection with his teaching, the Iyengar family in India said in an April 3 email that was shared by the IYNAUS board. Manos, who holds workshops across the globe and said he has taught thousands of teachers over the decades, was previously acknowledged by B.K.S. Iyengar as one of his “elder students,” who helped to make yoga “a household subject in all of America.”
Original KQED #MeToo and Yoga investigation
More women accused Manos of sexual assault after KQED published an investigation in September 2018 in which three women accused him of groping their breasts — in 1986, 1988 and 2013 — while they were performing poses in class. He was also the subject of a 1991 expose in West, a now-defunct magazine then published by the San Jose Mercury News, over alleged sexual misconduct.
“The allegations in the report are false and the conclusions are wrong," said the spokesman for Manos, who did not want to be named. "He has never engaged in any sexually inappropriate adjustments or conduct toward students. The report demonstrates that the ‘investigation’ was anything but fair and impartial.”
A Beloved Teacher or Sexual Predator?
An unsettling portrait of one of the world's most famous yoga masters emerged, after years of secrecy, in the investigator’s 36-page report: For some he was a beloved teacher and a guide to enlightenment, while others alleged he was a sexual predator and a schoolyard bully.
The report includes the stories of women who accused Manos of abusing them while they were in vulnerable yoga poses in class — either on their heads, balancing or straining in a stretch. All of the accusations from 2005 on were substantiated by Sargeant (IYNAUS was investigating allegations from 1992 on, when the organization formed; B.K.S. Iyengar had weighed in on earlier allegations from the 1980s).
Some of the allegations include:
Manos penetrated a female student’s anus with his finger through her clothing.
Manos “repeatedly molested” a female student in various ways: stroking her breasts and putting his toe into her vagina through her yoga tights.
Manos touched a female student’s genitals by using his hand to stroke her from her tailbone, across her vulva and toward her pubic bone.
“I only became capable of describing it this year," the student wrote to Sargeant about the last incident, which allegedly happened in chair pose during a 2005 or 2006 workshop. "… I am telling you now because even though it happened years ago, I find my body worthy of respect. That touch was not okay with me. I do not know of any officially recognized genitalia adjustments in yoga.”
Another four people came forward accusing Manos of sexual assault in class during the 1980s, including genital contact and groping of breasts, but Sargeant didn't make any findings about the alleged incidents since they occurred before 1992. And four people said they witnessed sexual assault by Manos, such as fondling a female student's buttock under the guise of a yoga adjustment, putting his hand on a female student's crotch during a demonstration and putting his toe in a female student's anal area.
"That was the end of me ever taking classes from him. I would not feel safe in his classes," the witness, a woman identified as Person 100, said of the last incident, which occurred at the Ann Arbor YMCA in approximately 2015.
“All these events are unspeakably sad and tragic,” IYNAUS said Friday in an email to its membership. “Our sincere hope is that something positive also results from them: that we will assure the highest ethical standards of our (teachers) and the complete safety of Iyengar Yoga students. We hope the wounds in our community can now heal and that we can be reunited in our devotion to the brilliant teachings of BKS Iyengar.”
Matthew Remski, a yoga teacher, trainer and culture critic who has written about sexual abuse in the community, said: “The results of the investigation are completely horrible and demoralizing, and as bad as everybody who gave their testimony to it probably suspected it was.
“The story is one of serial criminality over decades that was overlooked, enabled and denied,” he added.
The statute of limitations in California for filing charges in cases of inappropriate touch, like what West said happened to her, is one year. In 2018, a new state law extended the deadline for sexual assault survivors to file civil suits — from three years to a decade.
A Student’s Allegation First Denied, Then Substantiated
IYNAUS launched the independent probe into Manos after KQED published its investigation.
Last September, IYNAUS’ ethics committee said in its review of a 2013 allegation by Ann West (who accused Manos of caressing her breasts during an advanced backbend pose at a San Diego workshop; her account was included in the KQED story) that it "did not find sufficient information to determine that a violation took place."
However, in October, the IYNAUS board of directors launched an investigation into West's accusations against Manos — and inviting others to come forward — saying because of his "seniority and influence” in their community, "there is an appearance that the members of this committee are biased” in his favor and “cannot decide complaints against him impartially."
On Friday, Sargeant said West’s allegations had been substantiated, which included that Manos had stared at her breasts during a demonstration in a 2012 weekend workshop and told her while she was in a pose that she should not wear a bra to the next day's session, as well as groping her breasts in 2013.
“Manos' actions in connection with these incidents in the November 2013 workshop were deliberate not incidental and were not legitimate adjustments. They were done with the intent to sexually abuse and or arouse West or Manos himself without West's consent,” Sargeant wrote.
West on Sunday said she was “jubilant” over the report's findings but grappling with what she had been through.
“As for me, I am left trying to make sense of all that has transpired in this past year. I have been disbelieved, ostracized, vilified, trolled, isolated, gaslighted and denounced. I was told I must have ‘misperceived’ touch to my own body. I had intimate, private details of my personal life publicly shared. I have lost my privacy and anonymity. I have lost my community of peers. I feel angry and isolated, and have been left feeling deeply cynical,” said West in a Facebook post. A longtime teacher, she has removed herself to the outskirts of the Iyengar community.
“People were trying to squash my voice. Other women, other fellow students, were trying to quiet me and to shut me up and to shame me,” she told KQED on Wednesday. “But I kept going because I knew what I was saying was the truth.”
Since the report published, West, 52, said she has received emails of support, including from a former supporter of Manos. She called for others to join her in building a "wish list of reparations" that the Iyengar leaders can make so "we can move forward together as a community in healing," she wrote later on Facebook.
“As a victim ... I've definitely found my voice and I'm not going away until I see that they're starting to make some of these changes,” she said.
After IYNAUS opened the investigation to other allegations against Manos — covering the time period from Jan. 1, 1992, to the present — the board said it received more than 150 reports from the Iyengar community between Sept. 12 (five days after the KQED investigation published) and Oct. 30. Many were supportive of Manos, while “many others made credible allegations that he has abused his position by making sexually inappropriate adjustments,” it said in a Nov. 27, 2018, letter to the Iyengar family.
“Based on these and other reports, we believed that there were many other individuals who would come forward if given an opportunity to do so safely and that some would allow their identities to be revealed. Finally, we also learned that rumors of such sexual misconduct by Manouso have been circulating in our community for many years,” the board wrote in the letter.
Investigation Establishes a Pattern of ‘Sexual Grooming’
When Melissa Hitt was thinking of taking a class with Manos as she was working toward a 500-hour-level certificate of teacher training, her teacher warned her to be careful because of what she called his history of inappropriate sexual behavior. Hitt told Sargeant she did not share what her teacher had told her with other students, treating it "as a shameful secret of our beloved community."
More Coverage of #MeToo and Yoga
Hitt, 35, of Long Beach, attended between six and 12 classes taught by Manos at his San Francisco studio, The Abode of Iyengar Yoga. She told Sargeant he "is a brilliant man" and that some of his instruction informed her own teaching powerfully in a positive way. (Hitt's name was redacted in the report but she'd spoken with KQED about her story and agreed to have her name shared).
But Hitt never felt comfortable in his classes, partly due to his "very dominating personality" but also because of his adjustments, which included “lingering touches on her torso in a way she had not experienced with other teachers.” Then, during a class in either 2011 or 2012, Manos slapped her butt while she was in the balancing pose known as half moon, standing on one foot and using one hand for support on the ground, according to the report.
“My finding is that, even if those actions do not rise to the level of touching intended to sexually abuse or arouse based on a clear and convincing standard, they were not legitimate adjustments and were part of the sexual grooming that this investigation has established is a pattern for Manos,” Sargeant wrote.
It was a similar experience for a woman identified as Person 76, who said “the entire time she and others have been in workshops with Manos there has always been a lot of discussion about this sort of thing concerning him,” the report said.
Person 76 told Sargeant that Manos assaulted her during a class in the early 2000s while she was in a standing pose (Prasarita Padottanasana), where the practitioner has their legs open wide and their torso folded over, with their hands and possibly head touching the ground.
“She said during her interview that he ‘put his finger right into me,’ penetrating her anus,” Sargeant wrote. “He did not say anything before he put his finger inside her.”
“She said that she ‘stared him down and then finally’ he said sorry” — twice, Sargeant wrote.
Person 76, who considered Manos her primary teacher since 1992 and has been a certified Iyengar yoga teacher since 1999, wrote to Sargeant that she felt "shocked and infuriated" by the incident and had "never spoken about it until now." She said she debated about whether to write in because she was certain many letters like hers would be submitted to the IYNAUS investigation.
Others, like West, were unaware of these rumors until after an alleged incident occurred.
Several people spoke to Sargeant in support of Manos, who declined to be interviewed by her. His lawyers alleged that the investigation was unfair, claiming Sargeant had made up her mind against him and didn’t understand the practice of Iyengar yoga, and that IYNAUS was using the “lowest standard of proof,” persuaded by the evidence and not beyond a reasonable doubt.
“The investigator was predisposed to reach a conclusion of wrongdoing and then set out to prove it. It is telling that there is not a single incident corroborated by an eyewitness to any of the six complaints, despite the fact that the alleged conduct occurred in a class of 30-50 students all in close proximity,” Manos’ spokesman said on Friday.
IYNAUS has said that Sargeant, while not a Iyengar yoga practitioner, had interviewed or been provided the views of many expert witnesses in the community, had conducted dozens of sex abuse investigations, and had worked to ensure Manos was treated fairly in the process.
'No Longer a Safe Space: Sexual Abuse in Yoga
In her report, Sargeant said she built a system where, once allegations were substantiated, she could use them to corroborate other accusations. She also noted that though her standard was “clear and convincing evidence,” for each allegation she substantiated, she “would have made the same finding had the standard been beyond a reasonable doubt."
Corroborating sexual abuse allegations in yoga can be tough because other students are often in the same positions as the victim, like a backbend or forward fold with the head down, which might block their ability to see what is happening, experts say.
“Someone might be surprised and wonder how this can happen in a packed workshop. An experienced teacher might easily see the times in class when others are not looking as you might be able to observe in my example,” said an unidentified woman in the report, who accused Manos of stroking her genitals at a 2005 or 2006 workshop during chair pose, when a practitioner's head can be titled down and their arms held up straight alongside their face. “Also the hierarchical power structure of learning environments in Iyengar yoga can contribute to what people allow their selves to see.”
‘Not an Accidental Touch’
The yoga industry has experienced dramatic growth in the U.S.: Over 36 million people practiced nationwide in 2016, skyrocketing from 16.5 million in 2004, according to a Yoga in America Study. Yoga was a $16 billion industry in 2016, shooting up from $10 billion in 2012.
The KQED investigation found that the yoga community was struggling to rein in sexual misconduct and abuse in its ranks. Some experts believe the lack of oversight of teachers and schools — yoga instructors aren’t licensed in the U.S.; no state agency, such as a medical board, oversees, disciplines or investigates them — is adding to the problems of an industry experiencing explosive growth, where touch and trust are a fundamental part of the practice.
Students look to teachers to guide them on their yoga path, and teachers will help them do so by adjusting their poses so they can learn the correct form. Some instructors say words can go only so far in teaching, and students learn best by feeling the adjustment that gets them into the correct pose.
Sargeant said Manos used the implicit consent given for a teacher to touch students to stroke women’s genitals and breasts. Those students who reported he groped them said it was done under the guise of a pose adjustment. “He’s acting as if he’s teaching,” said an unidentified woman who told Sargeant that he touched her genitals while she was in a seated pose.
A woman identified only as Person 12, a longtime student of Manos and of Iyengar yoga, said Manos stroked her breasts multiple times as he sat behind her in the seated pose of Janu Sirsasana.
“She said that when Manos crosses the line, he often has some supposed justification for what he has done,” Sargeant wrote. “There is an adjustment involving turning the student's abdomen or ribs but each time Manos was supposedly adjusting her he would run his hand over her breasts. Person 12 said that it was clearly not an accidental touch.”
Person 12 also said that in another seated pose (Maha Mudra), Manos put his foot between her bottom and the floor from behind and then put his toe into her vagina through her yoga tights. Sargeant said the woman told her: "'I remember the shock of feeling his toe' inside her vaginal opening.”
Another student, a man identified as Person 25, said Manos pulled on his testicles when he asked for clarification on a standing pose during a Aug. 15-17, 2014, workshop.
“Manos had Person 25 get into the pose in front of the other students ‘then reached between [Person 25's] legs from behind and up into the crotch of [his loose] yoga shorts and gently pulled down on [his] testicles,’" Sargeant wrote.
He recalled Manos indicating he should not misunderstand his touch but "wasn't clear about what he was going to do." Person 25 thought that Manos was going to touch his sacrum or his tailbone, and said he was floored that Manos touched his testicles, noting that in all of the decades that he has studied yoga he had never had anything "remotely like that" done as a demonstration or adjustment on him, Sargeant wrote.
Person 25 said he didn’t consider himself to be making an allegation of sex abuse against Manos, Sargeant said. She noted the act didn’t sufficiently support an inference of sexual intent and deferred to IYNAUS regarding whether Manos' demonstration on this man was appropriate under its guidelines — which it is not.
Until recently, just being in a yoga studio — especially an Iyengar one — meant practitioners had given consent to be touched, said Donna Farhi, a New Zealand-based yoga instructor who has authored five books, including one on ethics for teachers.
That lack of clarity around consent with touch "has led to a real blurring of boundaries," she added. Reading the report, "in one second Manouso appears to be giving a legitimate adjustment and the next second he's sexually molesting students. And you can see how easily that sleight of hand could create a real confusion in the mind of the student who one moment ago was being given something that appeared to be completely legitimate and in the next moment she's having her breast groped."
"People from outside the community might look at these women and criticize them for not immediately responding," Farhi said Tuesday. "But in the context of normalized, nonconsensual touch 'adjustments,' it's a perfect environment for that to occur."
If Manos Does Not Stop Sexual Misconduct, ‘He Is Closed for Me Forever’: B.K.S. Iyengar
Sexual misconduct allegations first surfaced against Manos in the 1980s and took two forms: sexual relationships with female students outside class, and inappropriate touching of students in class, according to IYNAUS president David Carpenter.
These allegations were made before the formation of IYNAUS, Carpenter said, noting a committee was created to investigate them: "Manos admitted to sexual relationships with his students, but denied the allegations of inappropriate and non-consensual touching in his classes and workshops."
In 1990, B.K.S. Iyengar decided not to remove Manos from the system, IYNAUS said.
"No doubt Manouso went wrong ... He promised me he would change and I have given him a chance,” B.K.S. Iyengar wrote in April 1990. “… If I hear again that he did not improve, he is closed for me forever.”
A senior Iyengar leader in California, Bonnie Anthony, wrote in a May 7, 1990, letter, that she was “willing to give him this one more chance.”
“Manouso has a problem, much like alcoholism. He has openly admitted it to Mr. Iyengar and to others and is in therapy, along with his wife, Rita,” Anthony wrote. (Rita Lewis-Manos teaches with Manos today at their San Francisco studio.)
West said the IYNAUS president and members, and the Iyengar family, “need to wake up .... stand up and take responsibility. They have acted as Manos’ enablers for decades."
“Without them Manos would not have been able to continue on as he did over many years, victimizing and sexually assaulting numerous women. I don’t doubt that the women who were brave enough to step forward are just the tip of the iceberg from his reign of abuse,” she wrote on Facebook.
‘If You Are Against Manos, Others Might Decline to Recommend You’
Most victims don't report, or hold off doing so, for a variety of reasons. But they “all fall under the large umbrella of: They don’t trust the rest of us to respond appropriately,” said Kristen Houser, a spokeswoman at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
Those reasons, she said, include fear of being disbelieved, blamed or having their privacy violated through gossip. Some people fear repercussions in their home life or their social circles, which often include the assailant.
“People often keep it to themselves, not to mention it's a very confusing thing when somebody that you know and trust violates that trust,” Houser told KQED for the original investigation.
That was the case for Cassie Jackson, 41, who said Manos put his foot on her genitals while she was in a pose lying on the ground with one foot extended out. He had been her teacher since 2012, and she had also worked at The Abode of Iyengar Yoga until March 2018.
“For years she had been trying to rationalize the incident in October 2015 when Manos put his foot on her genitals,” Sargeant wrote. But articles on the alleged abuse “made her accept that what had happened could not be rationalized away; she accepted the fact that Manos had sexually assaulted her.”
Going against a famous and powerful teacher can be tough, with students fearing retaliation, people not believing them and losing their community, experts say.
Person 12 said Manos sexually assaulted her several times, including when he performed a simulated sex act on her while she was in the standing pose of Prasarita Padottanasana.
“ ... he came up behind her, stood with his legs apart, put a mat between them and pressed his pelvis, thighs and genitals up against her hips several times. He then removed the mat so there was nothing but clothing between her crotch and his genitals and thighs. After he removed the mat, he pulled her pelvis back against him and moved it back and forth repeatedly pressing himself against her as if in a simulated sex act,” Sargeant wrote.
When she later confided in a more senior student in the Iyengar community about what Manos had done, “the person told her not to complain; that if she complained, Manos would never adjust her again,” Sargeant wrote, noting Person 12 said that at that time she did not know anything about Manos' history of sexually inappropriate behavior with students.
Person 12 described Manos as a gifted teacher and said "he in some ways changed [her] life for the better." She also said he can often be "kind and generous," as well as a charismatic teacher whose classes are fun and challenging, according to the investigator’s report.
“These attributes along with his seniority, popularity and strong personality enable him to take liberties with some students,” she told Sargeant. “Only a subset of Manos' students have to deal with his sexual misconduct and the fact that he lies about it.”
A male teacher echoed what makes it hard for students to come forward. He said that at a workshop in 2017, he saw Manos put a woman’s leg between his legs — “under his genitals” — while she was doing a modified pose because she had a knee injury.
He “said that as a male teacher ‘this is not the way’ and noted that B.K.S. Iyengar would never have done anything of that sort,” Sargeant wrote. He “said that it is difficult to go to a teacher whose teaching does not align with morality but their system is such that you are dependent on the recommendations of others. If they know you are against Manos, others might decline to recommend you.”
When asked for the original KQED investigation what was holding people back from reporting abuse in yoga, Rachel Brathen, also known as Yoga Girl, said: “I think the biggest piece is fear of being alienated from this community that means so much to us.” That community built through yoga, she said, is “sacred” and such an “important part of the practice.”
Some of the students interviewed by Sargeant shared those feelings — or knew people who did.
Person 12 had initially told Sargeant she knew of other people who had sexual abuse allegations against Manos to share but later told her most people had decided not to participate in the investigation for at least one of these reasons: “They are too afraid or too traumatized; they still want to or have to have contact with Manos; or they have removed themselves and do not want anything to do with the community anymore,” Sargeant wrote.
But others like Hitt, today a management consultant for health care companies, decided they had to come forward. In sharing a January 2018 email with Sargeant that she wrote to a former teacher about her experience with Manos, Hitt wrote: “I never ended up sending (to IYNAUS) for all of the obvious reasons" — until after the KQED story published. "However, now I see that we all must speak up about this painful topic.”
‘All I Asked Is That They Stop the Investigation,’ and Then a Resignation
Manos previously said he had offered to resign from IYNAUS if it would stop its investigation. IYNAUS rejected Manos' resignation.
"All I asked is that they stop the investigation,” Manos wrote in a letter on Nov. 13, 2018, to Iyengar’s children, Geeta and Prashant Iyengar, according to correspondence shared by his lawyers. “They have refused my offer and did not tell me why they refused it. They have given me no indication of any further complaints anonymous or otherwise.”
On March 7, outside The Abode of Iyengar Studio in San Francisco's Glen Park neighborhood, Manos, 67, briefly spoke with KQED. When asked if he had confidence in the independent inquiry led by Sargeant, he mouthed the word: "No." Then he added, "I was cleared by a unanimous committee of females and I don't know what anybody else wants," in a reference to the initial ethics committee investigation.
As KQED began to ask Manos about new allegations of sexual misconduct that it had received, he got into his gray Tesla and closed the door.
Manos resigned from IYNAUS the next day, Friday, March 8. His resignation was posted to The Abode of Iyengar website, saying he was quitting IYNAUS, where he had been a member of its senior advisory council until it was abolished in October 2018.
"I am leaving though I only adjust students who give their consent. I am leaving though I do not touch inappropriately. I am leaving because I cannot prove my innocence," said Manos, who began his studies with B.K.S. Iyengar in 1976 and holds one of two advanced senior certificates granted worldwide by the founder, who died in 2014.
On Friday, his spokesman said, “Manos voluntarily resigned from IYNAUS not because of any wrongdoing, but to try to prevent the fracturing of the organization. It is his sincere hope that despite the Board’s actions toward against him, IYNAUS can continue to thrive in the future.”
IYNAUS said on Friday that Manos will not be permitted to apply for membership with the organization in the future.
‘Conditions that Fostered, Supported and Perpetuated This Abuse Remain’
Farhi said she has professionally been involved with the Manos case since the late 1980s and early 1990s when — as a member of the board that ran Yoga Journal magazine — they received several credible allegations from women who did not know each other relating “strikingly similar reports of having their breasts fondled while in deep relaxation, or fingers inserted into vaginal and anal orifices.”
“What is implicit from this (IYNAUS) report is the systemic complicity within an entire yoga community and organization that up until now has seen the abuse suffered by these women as unfortunate, but permissible collateral damage,” she said in a statement.
Though Manos will no longer be a member of IYNAUS, he can continue to teach yoga — no certification or license is required for instructors in the U.S. The most that yoga organizations, like the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) in Pune, India — the mother institute of Iyengar Yoga worldwide — can do in such cases is revoke their certificates.
“But as it stands, Manos can continue teaching in San Francisco under the newly abridged banner of his school ‘The Abode of Yoga' (formerly The Abode of Iyengar Yoga). He can continue to teach through independent hosts and in countries where he can rely on the naivety of foreign students eager to receive some of his supposed brilliance,” Farhi wrote. “Which calls into question whether we can, as we’ve been saying for years, uphold and police the standards of our own profession or whether it is long since past due for government licensing.”
Remski said it was: While IYNAUS’ investigation marked a “significant moment” in the yoga world and provided a model for other organizations to aspire to, “it's also shown how some broader-based regulatory oversight is probably going to be a necessity because — even with the good intent and the resources that IYNAUS had — it really struggled to come to the conclusion it's come to.”
“They did the best they could and it's just not good enough,” he said. “How then does the IYNAUS decision or the Iyengar family’s decision, how does it actually protect anybody else?”
He noted, too, that, “had there been a license for teaching yoga in the state of California in 1990 Manouso Manos would have lost it, and he would have lost it in a way that probably would have marked him or prevented him from gaining a license in another state.”
A precedent has been set with the IYNAUS investigation that “these behaviors can result in a serious consequence,” said Farhi. “But the truth is, this is a hollow victory. The soil, the climate and the conditions that fostered, supported and perpetuated this abuse remain. The question now is how we collectively turn the corner and create a wholesome yoga culture in which all may feel safe and respected.”
Farhi noted that after B.K.S. Iyengar gave Manos a second chance in 1990 following the first wave of allegations, Manos “continued his meteoric rise to fame as the senior most representative of the method.”
"Yoga culture needs to take a good, hard look at itself," she said Tuesday.
Of the report’s findings, survivor Cassie Jackson said her reaction was twofold: She found it “monumental” and a “sign of solidarity” but also overdue.
“They're doing what they should have been doing 30 years ago,” said Jackson, whose name was redacted in the report but she'd spoken with KQED about her story and agreed to have her name shared.
“And what is to come of the last 30 years of women … who as Donna (Farhi) said have been collateral damage? But this is a step, this is a step in the right direction,” she added.
As for herself, she is grappling with leaving a world behind, one she once considered home — The Abode of Iyengar Yoga — and having her story publicly shared.
Charlotte Bell, who told KQED last fall that Manos groped her breasts while she was in a pose during a workshop in February 1988 at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco, said she felt vindicated by the report's findings but the substantiation "of so many students' claims of inappropriate touch by Manouso Manos is bittersweet."
"My hope is that the rest of the yoga world will take notice. Manos is not an isolated case. He's a symptom of a larger pattern. Yoga is unregulated," Bell said in an email. "Anyone can teach, no matter their actual qualifications. And known abusers are allowed to continue to teach even after their errant behavior has been discovered.”
In the wake of the KQED investigation, IYNAUS has overhauled its policies and procedures regarding sexual misconduct. It will now publicly say if a teacher has been suspended due to ethical violations, and will require all teachers and some others to take courses designed to prevent sexual misconduct.
IYNAUS also suspended another teacher named in the KQED investigation, Allan Nett, from teaching for three years. Eka Ekong said he put his hands near her genitals in a lunge pose (Warrior 2) and then abruptly pushed out — causing injuries to both of her legs. The ethics committee said in its findings that “there was sufficient information to support the allegations” of Ekong.
Nett had previously been reprimanded and punished by B.K.S. Iyengar and IYNAUS in 2012-2013 “following a determination that he had violated ethical guidelines by teaching abroad in a manner that did not reflect safety or correct Iyengar method. The proof of those allegations was in the pictorial representation of putting pregnant women in unsafe positions as well as inappropriate adjustment by having a male student sit on his crotch in (the pose of) chatoosh padasana,” the ethics committee said.
One of his requirements then: attend class at the Abode of Iyengar Yoga in San Francisco with Rita Lewis-Manos and/or Manouso Manos. His “focus was to learn appropriate adjusting techniques,” the ethics committee said.
Nett declined to comment when KQED asked for his response to the IYNAUS findings and its decision to suspend him.
Got a news tip or comment? Email the reporter: email@example.com. You can also reach her on the encrypted communications app, Signal: 650-888-2765.