A brighter light casts a darker shadow.
Abuse happens all too easily in a practice that often attracts vulnerable people -both as students and as teachers. When a teacher’s presence, or system, override your own sense of freedom in your own body, you lose something to suit the teacher's need to be in control.
You fall in line and do what you are told; what you think you should be doing, or what you are often literally pushed into.
I’m lucky I never experienced that many physical injuries in yoga classes over the years; just the usual knee problems, after being badly adjusted. But that's just the physical mistreatment and misalignment. It goes way beyond the physical.
Yoga can be a dogmatic movement system. As most of us are brought up to respect our elders and to navigate the often thin line between being disciplined by a parent, or being abused, we come to yoga classes not always sure of where that boundary lies.
Oh yes, there is freedom when a discipline is observed, but you may have to pay for it with your individual needs, in the moment. Just do the postures the way the teacher tells you to, despite what you know to be right for you.
Powerful practices naturally attract an abuse of such power. There are the sly remarks, the subtle put downs, the ‘ah you’ll get it next time’ type of thing that is all too common. I'm sure I unintentionally participated in this as a teacher too; passing on a tradition of abuse, masquerading as a spiritual discipline.
The bright lights of yoga hide some very dark corners indeed.
I am doing my bit in shining a light on those dark corners.