New Religious Movements
Eastern Yogic traditions are gaining popularity in Western society, with more yoga studios and places for yogic practices emerging daily. The rapid influx and manipulation of these traditional practices, has resulted in a widespread movement of this ancient knowledge, now seemingly coinciding with the new age movement. Although many of these practices have been altered to a point of inconsistency and separation to the origins, they still claim to provide the benefits, healing and spirituality as the original tradition. However, with western society still differing in values and beliefs from eastern traditions the knowledge, protocols and discipline associated may have been lost in the whirlwind of popularity and synthesized western umbrella practices.
Bikram yoga has already gained a reputation in the west for being one of the more physically challenging types of yoga practice. Bikram founder Bikram Choudhury and Los Angeles hot yoga movement father now has a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him for causing injury and emotional abuse through his teachings (http://lat.ms/XKwhaT). Choudhury is described as anything but the stereotypical yoga master with a love for material possessions and name dropping. Choudhury promotes himself to possess a charisma and connection to the mysterious that makes him an ideal candidate for a new religious movement leader.
Could this lawsuit against Choudhury for his misuse of authority and trust be the first of many to come in the North American world of yoga practice? It is known that more patients than ever before are requiring physiotherapy and other corrective measures due to injuries caused through misguided instruction by the teacher and lack of self discipline and body knowledge on the part of the student. Is it not the responsibility of the student (member) to be accountable for their own actions and how far they allow their instructor (leader) to push them? This case is highly reflective of many other New Religious Movements and the relationship between leader and member, or teacher and student. Where is one to draw the line with conflicting interests, trust and responsibility within these groups?