Campaign Takes on Guru System

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In the last couple of years, sex scandals and abuse allegations involving leaders such as Bikram Choudhury, Kausthub Desikachar, and John Friend have shocked the yoga community, leaving many feeling hopeless and disheartened.

But yoga teacher Lucas Rockwood is trying to change that with a new campaign called “I Am My Own Guru.” The goal isn’t just to stop the abuse, but also to bring awareness to faults in the traditional guru system, a model of blind faith that puts followers at risk for abuse.

“Yoga is not a religion, it’s a practice,” wrote Rockwood on the "I Am My Own Guru" website and Indiegogo campaign. “We don’t need gurus, we need good teachers who we can trust to be safe and responsible. ‘I Am My Own Guru’ is about giving the power back to the students, and taking action against abusers.”

The campaign will distribute purple bracelets that say “I Am My Own Guru” to supporters. Those who donates $25 will get 5 bracelets, while $100 donors will get 35 bracelets. “When you wear the bracelet, it says loud and clear, 'enough is enough,'" states the campaign page.

Though the campaign is about raising awareness, it also has a fundraising goal of $10,000. All of the donations raised through “I Am My Own Guru” will go to the nonprofit organization, The Art of Yoga Project, which uses yoga in an effort to help rehabilitate girls in the California juvenile justice system, many who are victims of abuse themselves.