Yoga to the People Founder Faces Sexual Assault Allegations
On July 3rd, 2020, an anonymous group on Instagram called @yttpshadowwork made their first post about Yoga to the People. It’s a poetic mantra that reads as follows:
“There will be no more…silencing…gaslighting…manipulation…no predatory studio owners nor subservient directors…no exploitation, no spiritual bypassing…your experience matters… you will be heard… this space is for everyone…this safe and completely anonymous testimony… this roaring releasing reckoning…is for the big, small, and in-between stories…swallowed or forgotten… all genders, all races, all sexual orientations, all identities, come forward and speak. The outcome is no longer bleak…Yttp, time to turn the other cheek…This power is for everyone… All survivors rise.”
The group offers a platform for people, whether students, teachers or trainees, to open up about their experiences with Yoga to the People “in which they witnessed or were subjected to a culture of sexism, racism, and misogyny that runs from the head of the company,” while also vowing that the names and identities of witnesses or survivors who tell their stories will be kept confidential.
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Disclaimer: opperators of this page are not affliated with Yoga to the People. We are opening up this space for people to come and talk about their experiences in which they witnessed or were subjected to a culture of sexism, racism, and misogyny that runs from the head of the company. All names will be kept confidential, and nothing will be posted without your consent. All posts are strictly in the words of survivors. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for submissions. #yttp #yogatothepeople #yttpshadowwork #allsurvivorsrise
Five days later, Yoga to the People, a popular chain of yoga studios in the United States, has officially been dismantled. After numerous accusations of sexual violence and abuse against the founder, Greg Gumucio, and others who were allegedly complicit in Greg’s cult of abuse, Yoga to the People put their website under maintenance and instructors removed ties on their personal accounts. The website has since been updated as of July 9th, in which their statement reads, “Yoga to the People will remain closed, and the yoga still lives.” (Update: They recently flopped back to ‘Maintenance Mode,’ and then changed it a third time to say “Yoga to the People is permanently closed and will not be reopening after Covid-19.”)
As the movement continues gaining traction on social media via the hashtag #AllSurvivorsRise, instructors have taken to their personal platforms to record and publicize their own stories of working and training with YttP. Survivors are working with Yoga Alliance to remove Yoga to the People as a school for certified yoga-training. If they are successful, Yoga to the People may no longer be able to give out certificates.
As of July 9th, @yttpshadowwork has made 107 posts, and garnered the attraction of 2,240 followers in less than a week. The stories of abuse and trauma are painfully honest, and range from issues of gaslighting and manipulation, to homophobia, racial discrimination, sexual misconduct, and suicide.
The veil is being lifted, and all the while a current online YttP teacher-training is halfway through its course, leaving trainees confused about how to proceed. Many stand with the survivors and are nonetheless feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and disappointed by the lack of transparency from the company and the dismissive company-wide email from Gumucio in response to @yttpshadowwork:
Greg Gumucio has allegedly accused the people behind @yttpshadowwork of hacking YttP’s website and e-mails. However, @yttpshadowwork has refuted those claims.
Many who have come forward are not suggesting that yoga-practice is harmful. They acknowledge the benefits they have reaped. However, as the alleged abuse continued, trauma started outweighing the benefits and needed to be addressed. While in Greg’s e-mail, he assumed that the survivors seek to destroy the community, the spirit of growth and accountability is far more prominent than an attack of destruction.
The actions by YttP Shadowwork are based in motives to hold those who have allegedly caused harm accountable, and to ultimately heal from the trauma stemming from this company. The next steps forward are pivotal and will reshape the mass perception of how a community can come together and grow through actions of restorative justice.
The yoga community at large is under severe scrutiny after the release of Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator, a Netflix documentary detailing Bikram Choudhury’s history of abuse of power through tactics of manipulation, fear-mongering, and physical and sexual violence. It must be mentioned that Greg Gumucio was Bikram’s protégé and the allegations are strikingly similar.
Overall the community is expressing the feeling that, memories are now, actions must be taken, and solidarity must be formed. The end of Yoga to the People might be regarded as a turning point for the future of yoga studios in the United States. No matter the industry – even in one that involves ancient spiritual, scientific and holistic-health practices – management is not exempt from the risks posed by the influences of racist, patriarchal-capitalism, and other systems of oppression. And yet, all survivors rise.