Yogamaze: Coercion is not Consent

On June 4th, 2017, I published a blog titled, Diksitars Do America, which featured the toxic male behavior of well known Yoga teachers, Douglas Brooks and Noah Maze. I published letters written by both Brooks and Maze, which showed their methods of brand control to be aggressively paternalistic and revealed how both Douglas Brooks and Noah Maze use these tactics to maintain their “Guru” pyramid scheme.

18987601_10154474509336712_1337539697_o

At the time, Brooks spent a few days on Facebook denouncing allegations. He assured his friends, students and followers that his “integrity” was as intact as ever. I’m devoting a seperate blog to Brooks’ manipulation of facts titled, Douglas Brooks: The Patron Saint of Gaslighting, because his commitment to his own narcissistic obscuration process is so extreme, but for now I’m going to focus on Yogamaze, a Yoga brand offshoot of Anusara in close association with Douglas Brooks that features the husband and wife team, Noah & Tracy Maze.

Screenshot 2017-09-18 08.01.39

The same day I published Diksitars Do America, I was sent a Cease & Desist order through Facebook messenger by Tracy Maze. Apparently, Tracy’s reputation for legal intimidation is so well known in the Yoga community that Christopher Wallis had this to say in the comment section of the above blog, “Please don’t be intimidated by Tracy’s bluff and shock tactics, Louise. You are within your rights of free speech here and the public needs to see what Douglas and Noah have written, and judge for themselves.”

I am in full agreement that the public needs to see the level of white, hetero-patriarchal, colonial capitalism run amok in the Western Yoga industry. What follows are a series of screen shots from a Facebook private message conversation between Noah, Tracy and myself.

Allow me to occasionally narrate…

MICKEY

Screenshot 2017-09-14 20.32.12

Screenshot 2017-09-14 20.33.23

Screenshot 2017-09-14 20.33.36

I was one of many people, who received a Cease & Desist letter. In the Maze’s desperate attempt to denounce the facts, they also sent a Cease & Desist order to Deborah Whipple of Canada, who is a very outspoken critic of the North American Yoga Industrial Complex and manages a Facebook group titled, Occupy Yoga, for the purpose of exposing industry corruption.

Deborah writes, “I was quite shocked that the Mazes would be so bold as to send such a threatening letter, implying their unquestionable innocence and taking great umbrage to any suggestion that they were bullies – all the while in the midst of trying to intimidate, bully and threaten me into submission to their demands.” She goes on to add, “I reminded him that I did not write the blog, I have the right to share anything I wish, I was out of his jurisdiction in Canada, and that both he and Brooks are public figures and teachers with a high profile social media presence and therefore accountable to the Yoga community, who deserve to know the truth. My job as an activist for Occupy is to seek and reveal the truth.”

N = Noah, D = Deborah.

Screenshot 2017-09-17 08.53.22

I cut straight to the chase…

Screenshot 2017-09-14 20.33.36 (1)

Meanwhile, Noah Maze, who I am not Facebook friends with, decided to come onto my personal wall, which is public and began to comment…

Screenshot 2017-06-06 12.44.23

and comment…and comment repeatedly on 4 different posts simultaneously.

Screenshot 2017-06-06 01.12.25

In retrospect, I believe this was a tactic devised by Noah and Tracy to goad me into saying something they could use against me, since the burden would be on them to prove a libel case, should they decide to litigate.

Meanwhile, Noah Maze could be seen trying to do damage control in other places, all the while setting his own house on fire…I wrote a blog post about it. Maze insisted that it be taken down, even though it was a series of screen shots, like the above, documenting his own statements…

Screenshot 2017-06-08 00.28.03

Someone posted Dikistars Do America  in Diane Bruni’s group, Yoga & Movement Research, where a lively conversation ensued. Noah attempted to usurp the role of victim, but was forced to concur and “share” the role, when members of the group suggested as the perpetrator, he could not concurrently claim to also be the victim.

21706594_10105990541294053_692784566_o

This is not the first, nor the last place that Noah, like Trump, has called his own reality, “Fake News!” Like Trump supporters, Noah & Tracy have adoring students for whom, regardless of how much evidence is shown to the contrary, continue to bestow reverence upon the Mazes.

21844113_10155489473795609_229133818_o.png

Still, enquiring minds wanted to know. Noah, did you or did not write the letter that was published in Diksitars Do America?

21767522_10155489477205609_2086083077_n

Currently, there are something like 20,000 members in the Yoga & Movement Research group, which is to say, just in that group alone, it is hard to calculate how many Yoga people were following this story. Matthew Remski, who is also in the Y&MR group, originally counseled the Mazes not to pursue a Cease & Desist order.

For everyone who is familiar with my relationship to Remski, we all know he did not do that on my behalf.  It’s difficult to know what Remski was getting at with his private communiques with the Mazes. I mean, why would a writer like Remski, who is known for calling out sexual assault/intimidation and harassment in Yoga, stay silent on this scandal and even collude with the Mazes in private? Many people in the community noticed that Remski was mysteriously absent from commenting. Still, others in the group persisted…on both sides.

21057718_10155489470255609_1448262902_o.jpg

Noah Maze continued to suggest the allegations based upon his own letter, in his own words, in relationship to Douglas Brooks were…

21769529_10155489478605609_753794633_n (1)

Noah Maze insisted, everywhere he could, that the blog should come down…he asked the moderators of the Yoga & Movement Research group to…

21706457_10155052683565749_1324441061_o.png

And then, as if cracking under pressure, Noah offered this response.

21769779_10155489469115609_156772221_n.png

And this is where events take a dramatic turn as both Brooks and Maze opt to protect their own hides.

As public pressure mounted, Brooks had to shift from suggesting he was simply being trolled, to actually addressing the issue, albeit with his own continued claims to innocence and integrity…It is here that Noah begins to suggest there is another element to the story. We are now 5 or 6 days in and the Brooks/Maze alliance is getting increasingly worried. I first alluded to this story with the following Facebook post on June 1st, 2017.

Screenshot 2017-09-17 11.28.20

If you re-read the letters between Douglas, Noah and Noah’s former employee, no where is it ever implied that an unethical relationship between the former employee or the Diksitar is happening. However, it is clear Brooks is annoyed that someone had the audacity to overstep, what he considers to be his imperial, spiritual terrain.

S%%%%,

Let’s assume —and I am making this assumption—that we both have the Dikistars best interests at heart.  I have 37 years of experience with their plight, their poverty, their exploitation, their efforts for opportunity.  Everyone wants opportunities, no less these folks who have lived their lives about 100m from home (and back).  So you chum up with Selva, and you think that because he is bright, curious, and ambitious—good for him, I say—that this means you should act?  What presumptuous nonsense.  And you know anything about this complex history and their history of exploitation?  You don’t ask me, you don’t ask Babu who would talk to Rajasekara?  What do you do?  Either you are a well meaning fool or you’re as exploitative of me, Babu, and the family as it appears.  There is no excuse for your behavior.
These young men are in for an emotionally bumpy ride, at best.  You don’t know what you don’t know, and neither do they.  Is there no marker for wisdom and discretion for you?  Is there no boundary that you would simply take up as your own without considering the more complex issues unknown to you?  Apparently.

You have not merely offended me—and everyone else that has worked for the past 15 years or more to help the Diksitar community create realistic opportunities and healthy situations—you have made your self-importance an issue that has forever changed my willingness to trust and call you a friend.  If you think I’m being all paternalistic and protective of these young men, you are quite right.  I have that prerogative because had you asked me or Babu or ANYONE and not simply allowed your own initiatives to be as naively moved as Selva, you would have done some good.  As it is, you go right ahead.  I’ll repair this damage after it happens.  And listening to Selva on this matter is like getting advice from a kitten.  You really don’t fathom that, do you?  This is appalling and you are culpable if and when this goes poorly.  Of course, if that happens then Babu and Vish and I will get the blame.  In short, you are no friend to anyone here.

Douglas

Dear Douglas
I am very sorry you are angry and feel I am trying to steal your knowledge and connections. This is not my intent. After my return from my trip to India with you in December, Selva contacted me via whatsapp as I had signed the deekshithar book and we started a friendship.  For several months now Selva has been sharing with me his desire to travel and share with people outside India. I extended to him the idea to come to Bali as it is a Hindu country and he can see how other Hindus practice around the world. I have explained to him the nature of Bali, how people dress and behave. I have made arrangements for him and Mahee so that their dietary requirements will be met. Selva and Mahee have been watching the world via social media and seem interested to see the world and how it works. I will do my best to keep them safe and out of harm’s way. They have discussed with their father and he has given his approval and guidance.
As for the India tour, my students in ###### have been asking for a few years now to travel to India with me. I have fallen in love with Southern India and they are eager to see this place. I have no students outside of ###### other than expats who have been my students in ######, and as my student base is Muslim I have no intention of offering a spiritual pilgrimage, only sight seeing. We will spend only one day in Chidambaram, and will not be doing any religious rites as this is not their interest. I do not have your knowledge and experience to offer anything near what you can even if I desired to do so, which I do not as it will put me in danger in Riyadh. I do not teach students yoga philosophy or mythology other than when I am required to do so by Noah on a Yogamaze teacher training.  I offer only yoga asana and meditation in a style learned from my previous teachers.  I am sorry that you feel that my intentions are otherwise. I asked a tour operator to create a trip of Southern India with a stop in Chidambaram. To be honest I have no idea where we went when I was with you other than Chidambaram and the resort we went to (the name of which I do not even know) as I kept no record of the names of places we visited, and such a tour as you offer is not suitable for my students.
I do not wish to upset you or take anything from you but only to offer a site seeing and yoga asana holiday for my students in ######.
Please accept my sincere apology for any upset and anger I have caused you.
Blessings
S%%%%

S%%%%

I need to be brief here so I am hoping you take this note with every good intention and with my genuine concern.  But I will get to the point.
When you asked the two young Diksitars to go to Bali, without the slightest compunction it seems to consult me or anyone else who understands their history, culture, and customs—I was astonished.  What an appallingly bad idea.  They are so innocent and naive, so incapable of comprehending western yogis doing holiday things on Bali, you have put them, as they will soon find out, in a very awkward position.  Food? Got that idea covered?  How they act and behave? What impressions they will bring home with them to Chidambaram?  What could you be thinking?  Do you not fathom the issues here?  I would be happy to explain at length.
Then this morning I see that you have planned a trip to India.  I note the itinerary.  Really?
Let me come to India with you, take all of your hard work, steal it, and make it mine. If that is not what you were meaning to do, that is effectively what you are doing.  This is deeply disrespectful and likely unethical.  There is nothing I can do about it but make it clear that that is not only how I feel about it but everyone you could possibly respect will very likely concur.  This is just way out of bounds.  What you are doing in Bali demonstrates judgment that is, at best, naive and poorly thought through.  What you are proposing to do in October is simply ripping us off, and honestly it takes a lot to get me this animated and unhappy.
Our friendship is at stake here because honest friendship requires real boundaries and care.  You can do as you please.
yrs, Douglas

And then Noah, wanting to repair the rift between his employee and Douglas Brooks, writes the following letter, which is after his then employee had completed the Bali portion of the Yoga teacher training she was conducting for Yogamze, notice the past tense in the second paragraph. This is important, it will come back later. Noah makes no suggestion that any compromise to his brand has happened in Bali or that he has any concerns over how his then employee has acted in relationship to the Diksitar priest.

Hi S%%%%,

I hope you are well and that the YTT is going beautifully. I will want to hear about that at a different time, but I’ve got to cut to the chase.

Douglas is deeply unhappy that you have brought the young Dikshitars to Bali and with your plans to take a group on a S India trip.

I’m not sure how all of this has come about. I know you well enough to know you have the best intention, but at the moment, that is not what is pressing. Here is what is pressing: if you value your relationship with Douglas (and others; Babu, Vish…) you need to take immediate action to do undo whatever can be undone, and do damage control. 

If you want to maintain these friendships and valuable company you must write to Douglas and ask him exactly what he would like you to do right now and simply do exactly as he says. You should also apologize and be as humble as possible (even if you don’t believe you have acted wrongfully—as I’m certainly sure you did not mean to). I understand this may all feel very unfair. There will be time to work through that later. For now, I am asking that you do as I am asking. We will process feelings later.

You have not asked for my input, help or advice here. I am aware I am crossing over lines I usually respect by offering my opinion and advice unsolicited. I do however have your best interest in my heart. Based on my communications with Douglas I have decided I owe it to you to say these things to you. This is in spite of my strong desire to remain neutral and uninvolved (that’s my MO—but sometimes we gotta go where it’s uncomfortable). As my student and our representative, your actions bear upon me and our community of teachers and yogis. We are all affected by your choices, and the consequences may be dismal if you persist with your plans.

I am sorry for the stress this email will cause. I am sorry for the stress the other emails in your inbox must be bringing about. I hope you feel my compassion and know that I have deep affection and admiration for you, S%%%%. It is not too late to get this right.

I truly hope you will take my words to heart and that this hiccup will turn out to be just a little blip on the screen of a long life and connection.

Love, Noah

07.14_Bali_Amy-Petty

On June 7th, Noah sent me a link to a blog post he just published.

Screenshot 2017-09-14 20.33.42

My second sentence reflects that I have only now, read his blog.

Screenshot 2017-09-14 20.33.49

Screenshot 2017-09-14 20.33.57

Screenshot 2017-09-14 20.34.06

Screenshot 2017-09-14 20.34.16Screenshot 2017-09-14 20.34.31

Screenshot 2017-09-14 20.34.43

Screenshot 2017-09-14 20.40.14

I have to repeatedly instruct him that framing his former employee as having any kind of inappropriate relationship, is not only fallacious, it’s dangerous.

Screenshot 2017-09-14 20.41.16 (1)

Screenshot 2017-09-14 20.41.26

The last two lines are me acquiescing to this former employee, who was terrified that these false allegations would result in bodily harm, either from state terror or domestic violence. It didn’t matter if the allegations were true or false, simply that they were uttered at all could have serious consequences. Noah and Tracy Maze are well aware of these circumstances and it is my belief they crafted this scenario, along with Douglas Brooks, to silence an entire community.

There are too many discrepancies in Noah’s own words. His personal writing in the form of a blog, couldn’t even maintain public scrutiny for 24 hours before it is “reworked” and then finally taken down. Here are but a few examples;

Noah writes, “Douglas’s emotionality comes across in the emails he wrote and I personally cringe when I read them. Taken out of context, they may well be deserving of the critique they have received. Still, while I may not always agree with Douglas’s perspective or his methods, I can count on one hand the number of people who have displayed the depth of character, strength, integrity and friendship as Douglas has over these 25 years. I would trust him with the lives of my children on any day without hesitation.”

Elsewhere he states, “My eyebrows felt singed with the ferocity of Douglas Brooks’ anger.” Who would leave his children with such a wrathful person?

Noah’s blog post was littered with contradictions. Perhaps that is why he took it down, but I think the overarching reason was that Noah’s blog, where he endeavors to save his own hide, was full of rape culture antics, which only served to cement public opinion that Maze was indeed, so paternalistically aggressive, that he felt no shame in devising false allegations against a woman, in order to have a victim to blame and not just to intimidate.

He then used this victim blaming schema to coerce an entire community into silence.

Noah & Tracy crafted the following letter.

Screenshot 2017-09-14 20.41.34

Screenshot 2017-09-14 20.41.41.jpg

Screenshot 2017-09-14 20.41.47

Screenshot 2017-09-14 20.41.52

Screenshot 2017-09-14 20.41.57

Notice that Noah & Tracy were willing to lie about circumstances using Tracy’s professional legal background to make it seem that in fact, they were right all along, it was all just a nasty case of slander, for which they retained a restraining order and everything is now fine.

Nothing to see here folks…Yogamaze as usual.

18814242_1348080255247374_7242124090481596309_n

 

Screenshot 2017-09-12 09.00.42

Screenshot 2017-09-12 09.03.00

Screenshot 2017-09-12 09.03.09.jpg

At this point, the Mazes shift their strategy. They inform their previous employee that regardless, they will not republish their blog. If you can believe, after all of this, they said they didn’t want to seem coercive and would prefer to find an amicable solution.

rehost-2016-9-13-cbbcd97d-4ded-49bb-9798-81b4e1fbc9f9

When I wouldn’t comply. Tracy Maze then tried another tactic, she sent me a Facebook message to bond over the devastating effects of patriarchy and to assure me she was an ally in the struggle for social justice…

21690921_10155052536430749_1257490868_n

I said, I would no longer negotiate my silence, that any new deal made with the Mazes would not include me and any further dialogue between me and the Mazes would have to happen through my lawyer.

An agreement was reached through other parties and the community was informed.

21705975_10155489465745609_1827542027_o.jpg

The negotiations that I refused to be part of resulted in this statement on Yogamaze website Answer to Recent Events. It was a faux apology, a vague recanting and when all was said and done, used as an opportunity to promote their Yoga business.

“Upon publishing that piece, we received feedback we may have been misinformed about relationships we outlined. We have not researched the matter further. We apologize if we got it wrong. We fully expect we do not accurately know the intricacies of relationships that are not ours – even those that ARE ours can sometimes be confusing.

So it is down.

We are relieved to report all parties involved (or nearly all) are in respectful discussion and on a path working toward peace.

I apologize if I have in any way wasted your time in the last week or if your life was in any way negatively impacted by this drama.

Thanks for following us.  Hopefully next time you come to our website it will be for the purpose of joining us for yoga!  😌”

I posted at the time, I scrubbed my wall for this?

Nevertheless I kept my Facebook wall scrubbed and my Diksitars Do America blog closed from public view.

All was silent on the western Yoga front, when as if out of nowhere, J. Brown emerges with his Yoga podcast and new guest, Noah Maze.

What is even more baffling than J. Brown’s choice of guest, is why after achieving everyone’s silence on the topic, did Noah Maze decide to go public again and rehash his own patriarchal narrative?

Here is a link to the podcast, relevant dialogue starts at 1:31:29. J. Brown joins the boys will be boys club, by referring to the scandal with Noah Maze as just the product of Internet trolls. Sound familiar? Douglas Brooks did the same thing.

At 1:36:11, J. Brown commiserates with Noah around “The white, privileged male telling everyone what do to,” as if this is some kind of fiction the rest of the world is fabricating about white males. You have to listen to the tone of J. Brown’s voice as he mocks this phrase, “white, privileged male telling everyone what to do,” because only then do you get the full extent of his brohood.

Screenshot 2017-09-15 16.24.40.jpg

 

The silence was broken…

I encourage readers to visit J. Brown Yoga and scroll down to the above post dated September 12, 2017. There is a public conversation, with so many intelligent women and their voices are not to be missed. For the sake of continuity, I have chronicled mostly my own comments.

Screenshot 2017-09-17 23.17.30

Screenshot 2017-09-17 23.42.19

Screenshot 2017-09-17 23.21.41

Screenshot 2017-09-17 23.25.01

Screenshot 2017-09-17 23.44.45.jpg

Screenshot 2017-09-17 23.39.56

Screenshot 2017-09-17 23.46.48

Screenshot 2017-09-17 23.29.44

Screenshot 2017-09-17 23.32.13.jpg

Screenshot 2017-09-17 23.33.58.jpg

Screenshot 2017-09-17 23.13.29 (1).jpg

Coercion as a silencing tactic,

Is not consent.

And you will be reported.

#SmashPatriarchy         Coercion is not consent.002

In the discussion Noah has with J.Brown, Noah talks at length about the downfall of John Friend. At about 1:08:00, Noah recalls turf wars, blacklisting and other control tactics occurring in the Anusara community. Noah continues to describe how there was an inner committee he was part of, who were trying to figure out what to do about John Friend. At 1:14:46 Noah says, “My agenda was to have John Friend not teach. Don’t take the stage, go dark. Go dark. You figure your stuff out and let’s sort through this as a community.”

It was interesting to hear Noah and J. Brown talk so candidly about John Friend, with no self-relfection as to how similar the style of discontent is between the Anusara business model and say, another dogmatic purveyor of Yoga, Douglas Brooks.

When Noah speaks of community, he is not talking about the wider community that includes you and me, he is talking about an inner cabal that pulls strings for the rest of us.

I’m confident this tactic also occurred when I published the first Facebook post on June 1st. I imagine an inner circle, particularly frantic to hold onto their Yoga image…and insisting on darkness from the rest of us, in order to maintain it.

Why don’t we do, what we have all supposedly come to Yoga to do. Why don’t we shed light, on our darkness.

That is after all, the prayer…

Screenshot 2017-09-18 13.34.00

I would like to propose a Town Hall. An open, moderated, public discussion that includes, but is not limited to Noah & Tracy Maze, Douglas Brooks, J. Brown, Matthew Remski, Christopher Wallis, Deborah Whipple, Amara Miller and myself. I would like to suggest that the businesses that currently employ Maze & Brooks, sponsor/finance the event, such as Wanderlust Hollywood, YogaGlo and other studios that harbor the teaching of Noah Maze & Douglas Brooks.

Hope to see you all at the Yoga Town Hall!

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s