I recently finished reading ‘Practice and All is Coming’ by Matthew Remski and was reeling for hours after reading it. I first came across Matthew Remski a couple of years ago when I read this article about the sexual abuse that was going on in the Ashtanga yoga world. Matthew is a yoga and ayurveda teacher living in Toronto. This book was part of the the reading list recommended in an online yoga course I recently attended about the history of women in yoga.
When the #metoo movement gained momentum, stories from the yoga world also started coming out and the biggest shocker for everyone was the abuse in the Ashtanga lineage. It had been going on for years, and though there were whispers about it in yoga circles, there was never an all out, open discussion about it. We would hear things like, ‘Yeah I heard he did that, but—‘. ‘Yes, she felt like that, but you know —‘. ‘But there are so many people who have benefited from his teaching.’ We were willing to believe that transgressions were happening in the world, just not in the yoga world.
This book explores the what and the why. What were the transgressions that were committed? Why did we behave the way we did? It likens yoga to a cult and attempts to explain yogis’ behavior through that lens. While the idea that yoga is a cult is not a new one for me, I found the analysis quite compelling. There are interviews with experts on cults. He has extensive interviews with students who have faced abuse directly, and those who have witnessed it. Those who are avid practitioners will recognize interviews with all the ‘famous’ yoga teachers. I recognized names such as David Garrigues, Gregor Maehle, Ty Landrum, David Swenson and countless others. The research for the book has spanned years and Remski has looked at resources exhaustively. It even contains self reflection questions in the appendix which might help you understand if you’ve ever been part of the problem or have the potential to be part of the problem.
Over the years I’ve heard many stories, read blogs and followed posts on Facebook about the sexual abuse and assault in the world of yoga. And if you, like me, watched the Bikram documentary on Netflix and asked yourself, ‘Why would anyone listen to this man?’, then you need to read this book. While it may not make things ‘ok’, it will give you more insight into a dangerous problem.