The dark side of “Swami Satyananda”

I would like to share this account of a 14 year old girls experience with Swami Satyananda of Satyananda Yoga. To me, it is surprising that so many are still so willing to use this mans name next to the word yoga. He has totally abused his power, in my eyes, as have some of his disciples.
Many thanks to Janaki, for your detailed account of your story. There is so much in there that touches me, that breaks my heart open with sadness for the manipulative way you were all treated… it is true, if you have no point of comparison, how can you know it is abuse? It is so sad that children were and, perhaps, still are brought up to be conditioned in this way.
It reminds me of a story of a boy in Cambodia who was given a gun at age 4 and told to fight for the Khmer Rouge, who had just killed his parents. He thought that it was normal until years later when he met some people who shared their stories of a very different kind of childhood. He slowly realised how conditioned he had been by war and has now dedicated his whole life to de-mining Cambodia (he picked up that skill while at war), and to housing and educating many orphans who have been affected by land mines.
I was so touched by his story and I see a similar opportunity in the stories that are coming forward now. That, now that people are courageously speaking out, there is a chance for reparation (even if the ashram are not willing to take full responsibility). To me this feels collective, not exclusive to the Satyananda story, but inclusive to all stories of abuse that are exposed throughout the world today. An opportunity to do the inner work, to integrate as human beings, and to stand together in support and live with integrity.
I am still working on my response to the abuse by Satyananda and his followers. It has touched a lot in me and I feel I could write a book about it all. It feels so pertinent to the time we are living in, to the breakdown of patriarchal rule, to the turning back towards our own intuition and trusting our own inner guidance, to taking responsibility for our selves and not assigning our authority over to another, to creating and committing to truly healthy and conscious ways of relating with others.

I dissociated from this tradition some years ago but am still deeply affected by this as I believe this sort of story is big in the collective at the moment. I will post my response to my blog in the very near future.

In the meantime, my heart extends to all who have been affected by this news; the survivors, the disciples who knew nothing about it, the ones who knew about it and have felt too afraid to speak up until now, those in denial, all of you who I know and love – and you know who you are. I stand with you in support to find a healthy way through this.


Published by Hayley

Hayley Price: PG. Dip. Dance & Somatic Wellbeing. Yoga Therapist Children’s Movement Facilitator Hayley has been facilitating movement in the community for over 15 years. She has worked with children of all ages in schools and developed a movement mentorship programme called ‘Girls Allowed’ for pre-teen girls to support them in transitioning times. Her work is multi-layered and focuses on creative emergence through movement, voice, healthy relating and embodied relaxation. She draws heavily upon the principles of Authentic Movement in her work. Hayley has facilitated movement based support groups for the general community, for women with postnatal depression as well as one-to-one based work with young adults in the Royal Edinburgh Hospital and those in the community with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, bi-polar and other structural and functional issues. While she lived in Scotland, she facilitated a programme to support teachers in schools. This focused on nourishment through embodied relaxation, gentle movement a safe space to share. Her work is creative and inquiry based, tailored to the needs of each group or individual.

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