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KHYF Therapy program – Statement (part 1)

October 22, 2012

This statement is from a few weeks back.

Sent by the elected Representative Committee of Yoga Therapy Training Europe Batch 2011-14, with the hope that this letter is used with all care and responsibility, being fully aware of the negative consequences of misusing it. We are very aware that media publicity can lead to harm for innocent people, groups or concepts. We need to keep in mind the value of the long tradition of Yoga.

Statement concerning the events in Piesendorf, Austria during Module 4 of the KHYF Yoga Therapy Training, September 2012.

As participants in the course, we witnessed events as they unfolded. We feel it is important for everyone to be aware of the seriousness of the situation.

On Thursday 13th September, we (about 50 members of the Yoga Therapy Batch) were asked to listen while four young women told their stories of abuse perpetrated by Dr Kausthub Desikachar. Each story was deeply shocking. All four had confided in their teacher, leaving themselves open and vulnerable. They trusted that his healing would help them overcome suffering. One of the women has a baby who was present during one of her painful and humiliating experiences.
The abuse involved the following:
• psychological manipulation (eg. “This is a secret between us”, “You do trust me, don!t
you?”, “You are special”, “I will look after you”)
• physical harm (eg. pressing hard on “granthi!-s which has caused long term pain and, in
one case, convulsions)
• sexual harassment and abuse (eg. lewd speech, kissing, touching breasts/buttocks in
public, smacking, taking favoured students to his room, using his tongue and genitalia as
“healing! aids)
• spiritual abuse (eg. causing one woman to experience out of body “mystical!
hallucinations).
These were not isolated incidents, for some the abuse had started from the first module and for some, repeated many times.

After the women had finished speaking, two more spoke from the floor, both admitting to abuses. Our immediate and united response was to support these women in their obvious fear and revulsion. All of them had been too terrified and/or embarrassed to speak to each other, let alone to us. The fact that Dr Kausthub Desikachar was not attending this module had given them the space and freedom to speak.

The next day, three women went to the police station in Zell am See to file a report. The police took the allegations seriously and asked them to return in the afternoon when an abuse specialist from Salzburg would be able to attend. They urged as many as felt they had a grievance to come forward. Five went to give evidence, one of them not a member of our batch.

Our unanimous response has been to condemn this outrageous behaviour and to support the women in their right to redress and compensation. The Batch elected a representative committee whose main task has been to write letters on behalf of all the members as well as the affected women to the Board of Trustees of the KHYF and KYM.

Our training cannot continue as if nothing has happened. We have requested that Dr Kausthub Desikachar should no longer be associated in any way with the organisation, should not continue to benefit financially from any course fees paid to KHYF, nor should he continue to have influence or control over the curriculum and/or the appointed teaching staff of the courses run by KHYF. Already changes in the structure of KHYF and KYM are in process.

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