Do You Want to Be Touched?

Rachel Brathen had no idea of the deluge headed her way when she asked her Instagram followers if they ever had experienced touch that felt inappropriate in yoga.

This was nearly two years ago. Ms. Brathen, 31 and a yoga studio owner in Aruba, heard from hundreds.

The letters described a constellation of abuses of power and influence, including being propositioned after class and on yoga retreats, forcibly kissed during private meditation sessions and assaulted on post-yoga massage tables.

The complaints also included being touched in ways that felt improper during yoga classes — essentially right in public.

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The hands-on teaching practices of some of yoga’s most celebrated gurus raise questions about consent.


More than 130 of the people who responded gave Ms. Brathen permission to turn their stories over to someone who could help bring accountability.

Other professionals whose work can involve touching people, such as massage therapists, are usually regulated by the government. Yoga teachers are not, and there are no industry trade groups that police these issues.

So Ms. Brathen, the author of “Yoga Girl,” wrote a few blog posts with redacted excerpts from the letters. That’s all that came from it.

About five months later, in April 2018, nine women went public in a magazine article about their treatment at the hands of one of yoga’s most important, influential and revered gurus.

Again, very little happened.

Disregarding complaints about unwanted touch, or much worse, has been the way of yoga for decades. Much of

Keep reading this article on The New York Times Business.

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