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Yoga to the People Founder Faces Sexual Assault Allegations

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Yoga to the People Greg Gumucio

Photo of Greg Gumucio from the Seattle Weekly

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.

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.”)

This is what is currently on the homepage of Yoga to the People’s website

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:

Email correspondence between Greg Gumucio and YttP community

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.

 

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Max Silver

Max Silver

Max Silver is a writer, artist, illustrator, and banjo enthusiast.

8 Comments

  1. Alex
    July 11, 2020 at 12:57 pm — Reply

    The idea that there was a culture of oppression, misogyny, anything like that at YTTP is fucking ridiculous. I don’t know about Greg, though he seems like an OK guy as well. But this is a malicious takedown of a beautiful, loving community that I can say from personal experience was run largely by women and by people of all races. Fuck this shit.

  2. Art
    July 11, 2020 at 3:41 pm — Reply

    Alex sounds angry.
    And, of course, males are super sensitive to misogyny.
    Maybe some restorative yoga at Pelican Bay would enlarge his circle of compassion?

  3. Regina
    July 11, 2020 at 4:51 pm — Reply

    I’m disappointed to see Brokeassstuart share this post making sexual assault accusations against Gumucio without more evidence or context. All you have as evidence is a link to an Instagram account accepting anonymous accusations that has prohibited public comments? This is dangerous spreading of unverified allegations. BTW, I don’t have any connection to YTTP or Gumucio. I’m just disturbed and disappointed to see this publication sharing unverified information during a very disorientiing time.

  4. Tracey
    July 11, 2020 at 5:04 pm — Reply

    I just want to say fuck this comment and the emphasis on toxic positivity. This ‘beautiful, loving community’ is now coming out with unique, personal, and individual AND shared stories of abuse and assault. Just follow the hashtags #allsurvivorsrise and listen to them speak. Many people have taken down their videos legit because they fear Greg’s retaliation. Does that fear come out of nowhere against this ‘ok guy’? Fuck no. Do the damn research and listen to survivors before you leave a reactionary and completely dismissive/inaccurate comment. Cool, thanks. Bye.

    Well done on the article. It’s heartbreaking, but the truth clearly needed to come out.

  5. July 12, 2020 at 8:57 pm — Reply

    My community from teacher training has been discussing this. There was definitely some not-so-cool ways that teachers were treated. Some cultish behavior. Ultimately, it was something that a lot of people grew from. We were required to teach 25 free classes before getting paid (yes, a very low wage – $35/class, and expected to be early and leave late).

    The 25 free classes we taught were a blessing and a curse, because YttP has so many attendees per class, it was an amazing way to get really good experience as a teacher – which something very challenging for many new instructors. But, many were also upset at not getting paid by yttp for this time, also very understandable. This thing about the “apprenticeship” (which is the 25 free classes) was also not explained until after the training was complete, it felt intentionally hidden from us until the end. Maybe that wasn’t always the case tho for other groups.

    The stuff about favoritism and being expected to show your loyalty is all true from what I experienced. It created this weird sort of popularity competition where you were expected to get on the good side of the management to get classes.

    The arm raising thing is also true. There was more than just that as well. I personally didn’t have any issue since I had a lot of experience in opening up huge energy channels with practices that pushed my limits. But, while I was good overall with that, a lot of people were put in a space of energetic vulnerability they were not accustomed to. We practiced kundalini yoga, then did another intense energy and movement meditation for a few hours, then did the “arm raising”. After the arm raising we were made to share something very vulnerable (which we had not been told we were going be asked to do).

    I remember clearly how it was just too much for a lot of the in-training teachers, and our group email was filled with people saying they needed extra help after that weekend and couldn’t ground and go back into their normal life.

    The two main things that were not done in a conscious way regarding that weekend is: we weren’t given enough understanding of what we were going to do, and the thing about sharing vulnerably was a total surprise. By then we were in a deep process and a group energy field that one couldn’t easily leave without literally tearing yourself away (this is definitely a cult-ish tactic). The second thing is that there was not adequate support, and really some professional support would have been in order, not just the ability to call up the instructors of the teacher training.

    So this is my take. My Teacher training was in 2015 or 16 I believe in San Francisco. I taught 25 classes in Berkeley and SF studios and went my way. I’m not afraid to share my experience openly. I am a healer by profession and see there are things to be healed here. You can get in contact if you feel called via my site: opentothesource.com

  6. are ate
    July 12, 2020 at 11:08 pm — Reply

    I will miss YTTP immensely. I was just a random student who came to practice here for 7 years and never noticed anything but good coming from this place.

    Due to COVID the studio has been shut down for an extended period of time and this stress has made internal politics boil over. Sadly this sanctuary could not survive the vitriol of social justice warriors and cancel culture of those who scream the loudest.

    This neighborhood institution which has saved many lives, including mine, has been shut down due to internal politics and power struggles in the modern day era version of the Jacobin Reign of Terror. Like the old Chelsea Hotel, this place was one of the few sanctuaries in this over-commercialized city that allowed those on the fringe to hang on to life.

    Yes teacher training was not super well-run, but who can really expect to get quality education from ” teachers” who are 25 yrs old themselves? And of course free labor is necessary to keep the studio affordable and donation based for the community. No sane person should expect to make real living from teaching yoga unless they are a ” master.” That is just common sense. Anyone who expected to get rich from teaching yoga in NYC after completing a couple of trainings in a community studio is just a deluded communist.

    This is just another hit-job to take out a competitor in an industry that has been stressed to the breaking point due to forced COVID studio closings. Trying to find a scape goat for the rage as that is now boiling over due to the anxiety, uncertainty and fear that paralyze the nation as a whole.

  7. AB
    July 13, 2020 at 3:49 pm — Reply

    I did a TT with them and it was a cult, I got the hell out of there because I recognized the abusive vibes from the management and the exploitative structure of the organization. It bummed me out because I believed in the vision, but I can totally see how that environment could lead to this.

    • Oz
      July 25, 2020 at 7:40 pm — Reply

      Word. I just went to yytp but I got to know a few of the teachers and they were taken advantage of. Long hours, little help, high expectations and low pay. Not exactly a spiritual practice when the core of its practice is being taken for granted. And trust me they were making serious cash in those studios and could have easily treated the teachers better. Manipulating, brainwashing young minds into a ‘just cause’ and using them At their expense is the ultra corporate game.

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