Dear IYNAUS Members,
It is our sad duty to report the results of the independent investigation of allegations that Manouso Manos has engaged in inappropriate touching of students in his classes.
We have now received the Report and Executive Summary from our independent investigator, Ms. Bernadette Sargeant. She has concluded that Manouso engaged in this inappropriate touching on a number of occasions between 2005 and the present.
We provided Prashant Iyengar and Abhijata Iyengar with Ms. Sargeant's Report and Executive Summary. Prashant and Abhijata have confirmed Ms. Sargeant's and our understanding that the conduct of which Manouso was accused is improper in Iyengar Yoga.
Prashant and Abhijata have informed us and have informed Manouso that he must now cease using the Iyengar Yoga name and the Iyengar Yoga certification mark both in the name of his studio and in connection with his teaching. See email here.
Because Manouso resigned from IYNAUS on March 8, 2019, there is no disciplinary action that IYNAUS may take against Manouso. However, there are other actions that we have determined are necessary.
First, we have adopted a resolution that Manouso will not be permitted to apply for membership in IYNAUS or to reinstate his past membership at any time in the future. Thus, we will treat him as an individual whose membership was permanently revoked. We take these actions in light of both Ms. Sargeant's findings and Guruji's statements in 1989-90 that the community should end its association with Manouso if there were any future sexual misconduct.
Second, we are revoking the Lighting the Way Award that IYNAUS gave Manouso in 2013. His name will be removed from the plaque that contains the names of the recipients of this award, and his name will be removed from the list of past winners on the IYNAUS website.
Third, we have determined that it is in the best interests of IYNAUS and Iyengar Yoga that we today publish on our website redacted versions of both Ms. Sargeant's Executive Summary and her Report. We have redacted (that is, blacked out) information that could identify the complainants in order to both protect their privacy and prevent reprisals against them. The redacted Report and redacted Executive Summary will be available on the IYNAUS website for the next 15 days.
Content in the Report and the Executive Summary includes language and information that some may find difficult or traumatizing. Please be mindful of this possibility in choosing whether to read the Report or the Executive Summary.
In addition, to maintain an atmosphere of sensitivity and mutual respect, we ask that you refrain from discussing the content of the Report and the Executive Summary with others who may find it challenging.
We have determined that publication of the report is necessary and proper because it will:
- Confirm for the IYNAUS community that credible and serious sexual misconduct allegations were made and that conduct described in the Report is wrong and inconsistent with the principles and practices of Iyengar Yoga.
- Further the goal of transparent communications with the IYNAUS membership about the sexual misconduct allegations made in 2018 and about the Ethics Committee’s initial determinations. These have been the subject of widespread publicity, including on Manouso’s website.
- Reassure IYNAUS members that IYNAUS took the sexual misconduct complaints seriously (once the Board learned of them), investigated them responsibly and at length, and acted on the conclusions stated in the Report.
- Restore trust in IYNAUS leadership and heal the schisms in the community that have been created by the publication of information and misinformation about the allegations against Manouso and about the reasons for the independent investigation.
- Demonstrate IYNAUS’s commitment to investigate claims of sexual abuse objectively and fairly, to effectively remedy abuse that has occurred, and to encourage any victims of abuse to come forward without fear of condemnation or retaliation.
- Raise the level of understanding in the IYNAUS community of the “grooming” behavior that could precede sexual abuse and the ways in which sexual abuse could occur in certain poses without detection in crowded classrooms.
- Reassure students who may be considering the practice of Iyengar Yoga of IYNAUS’s commitment to preventing and remedying sexual misconduct and other abuses of power by Iyengar Yoga teachers, and thus support the continued vitality and growth of Iyengar Yoga in U.S.
- Participate in an important public debate about abuses of power that occur in hierarchical guru-led systems in which great power is conferred on individuals like Manouso and in which members with legitimate grievances may be reluctant to speak out, for fear of ostracism or retaliation.
All these events are unspeakably sad and tragic. Our sincere hope is that something positive also results from them: that we will assure the highest ethical standards of our CIYTs and the complete safety of Iyengar Yoga students. We hope the wounds in our community can now heal and that we can be reunited in our devotion to the brilliant teachings of BKS Iyengar.
We have done our best to carry out IYNAUS's mission in these difficult and stressful conditions.
Yours in Yoga,
IYNAUS Board of Directors