By now, we’ve all seen and heard self-help guru Tony Robbins tie a noose of ignorance around his own neck at his $3,000 weekend conference and then swing in the hot winds of swift societal condemnation. As someone who uses the power of touch to teach in my yoga classes, I was struck by the significance of using touch to illustrate his point in this clip. (If you don’t have 11 minutes to spend on this cringe-inducing video, just forward to 3.29 to see this part.)
He illustrates his point with touch — asking his “student” to make a fist and then pressing on it with his hand, asking all the while, “why are you resisting?” as she backs away from him. It is menacing, considering that he is the voice of authority in the arena and he is over 6 feet tall. It is humiliating, since he upbraids her verbally and when this doesn’t seem to change her mind, he asks her to come to him for this instruction. It is inhumane, since he doesn’t for even try to empathize or connect with her as a fellow traveler on this planet. He has his power, his prestige, his persona — barriers to the human experience.
Thanks to the #metoo movement and the consciousness it has raised in our society, I see this video with even more depth than I would have before. The sexism would have made me mad at the age of 13, but with the #metoo movement and the facts I’ve learned about the trauma of harassment and sexual violence, I am appalled that Robbins didn’t for one moment think about what trauma his touch might trigger in this woman.
As a yoga teacher who was trained in and expected to perform hands-on assists, the #metoo movement has made me want to examine my own philosophy about touch in the classroom. The DC Yoga Co-op’s first event, Hands-On Assists in the Era of #Metoo will present a panel discussion of seasoned local yoga teachers and therapists with a variety of philosophies about touch so that we can learn about, and set or reconnect with our intentions about this aspect of our teaching. Continuing education credits will be available to those who ask for them. To register for this event or to become a member of the DC Yoga Co-op, please click here.
The DC Yoga Co-op was launched this month. We’ve got a big vision: to keep local DC yoga communities alive and well in an increasingly corporate yoga climate by offering topical, innovative and interesting continuing education programming taught by local DC yoga and mindfulness teachers, helping us to become better leaders in our communities and teachers for the people who need yoga the most. To join, please click here.