I avoid political topics on my blog like the plague. But ever since I saw this video yesterday–which was taken at this weekend’s Northwest Yoga Conference in Seattle–I haven’t been able to repress a growing feeling of nausea. So much so, that I’m posting this blog article one day early. I have to do something.
In this video, Savitri accepts a reward on behalf of her husband, Aadil, who was sick with pneumonia. I do not know Savitri or Melissa (the other woman in this video, who was one of the conference organizers). I have, however, met Aadil. We were on a yoga teacher training panel together many years ago. Aadil is a yoga master with four times my years of experience. We come from different lineages, so I often disagreed with what he was saying, and vice versa. In spite of my junior status to him, he listened to me and treated me with great respect.
Much more respect than was shown his wife this weekend. To see what I mean, please fast forward or listen past the first five minutes.
Meditation master, mother and wife of yoga master Aadil Palkhivala disrespected and KICKED OUT of conference for no reason! Female, Indian Meditation Master, and my mother, Savitri, who has been practicing and meditating on Love and Light for 35 years, was aggressively kicked out of “Be the Light” themed Northwest Yoga Conference just when she was going to speak about the Light. She was supposed to have 10 min to speak and accept an award for her husband Aadil Palkhivala, yoga master, who was unwell and couldn't attend. This exposes the falseness of modern yoga culture. Thank you for all who recognize and live true Yoga."To make it clear, I was given the honor and 10 minutes to speak. I asked Savitri, meditation master and my wife, to accept the honor on my behalf and speak in my place as I had bronchitis and pneumonia and could not attend. She very graciously agreed. It was a blessing to the conference to have a true master of light in their presence. No, there was no time issue. Because she did not even get the time of 10 minutes allotted to me but, the event started on time and the previous person who was also honored, humble and precious Bob Smith, simply accepted the honor and did not speak which meant that they had 10 extra minutes. It is sad that someone who claims to do yoga cannot even recognize a living master of light." – Aadil Palkhivala, co-owner of Alive & Shine Center and co-founder of Purna Yoga.The Story:Savitri and Aadil were to be both teaching at the Northwest Yoga Conference as well as paying for having a booth for their college and studio. Savitri graciously gave her income for her teachings as a gift to the Northwest Yoga Conference, and was intending to not make a profit.Aadil Palkhivala learned asana from BKS Iyengar since the age of 7 and has been teaching and living yoga around the world for over 50 years. He is known as one of the founding fathers of yoga in the US. He is also known as "the teacher of teachers" in the yoga world, featured in Yoga Journal and all over the world teaching teachers with numerous awards for integrity in yoga. He was to be awarded tonight at the Northwest Yoga Conference for being a respected yoga influencer, it was an award voted for by the yoga community. Savitri has been learning and teaching meditation and lifestyle techniques for over 30 years, helping thousands around the world find their light within. She is the founder of Heartfull Meditation practiced around the world. She had a traumatic life, her parents death as a teen, her sisters murder, her own deadly illnesses and much more. Her strength and wisdom has inspired many to make huge changes and find self-love. She is also a devoted mother and teaches around the world. Aadil and Savitri are co-founders of Purna Yoga College and Alive & Shine Center for over 25 years.Savitri was there to receive an award on Aadil Palkhivala's behalf and speak for the allotted time of 10 minutes. The audience was enjoying and so happy to hear Savitri's vote for female empowerment and real yoga when Melissa pulled her aside and had Savitri and her students/employees escorted out of the building. She then kicked Savitri and Aadil out of the conference itself, kicked the Alive & Shine Center employees and students out without reason. This is also after Alive and Shine Center had paid to have their booth and Aadil and Savitri were noted as teachers at the conference. Melissa, Northwest Yoga Conference director, disrespectfully interrupted, took Savitri off the stage at 5 minutes, though Aadil was promised 10 minutes.After this happened, many attendees left the room and told Savitri they were very upset what Melissa did, people even cried saying that it was unjust how Savitri was treated. Melissa has caused intentional infliction of emotional distress. Savitri was kicked out of the conference, even when their studio paid to have a booth and attend. This moment in the video is when Savitri was receiving Aadil Palkhivala's people award for being a master in the foundation of yoga today, and she spoke on the importance of light, love and integrity in yoga. She also spoke of the importance of female strength, empowerment and energy in all industries including yoga before being kicked out. Alive & Shine Center, Aadil and Savitri have now been kicked out of the conference for no reason at all.COMMENTS FROM ATTENDEES:"It was just so so strange. She was saying the most beautiful things. I was looking around while she was talking and seeing everyone nodding their heads and smiling and lighting up in response to her words. And then without any reason or explanation, she was rudely cut off and asked to leave the room, as if she had done something criminal. I’m truly shocked, and honestly still shaken by it." – E.P."As jarring as the interruption is, especially to the quietude of a yogic soul, I'm so warmed by the fact that Savitri didn't just smile and accept this. She spoke up and in so doing stood up not just for women (her topic at the time) but also for Aadil, herself, and the Yoga which they both so graciously hold." – G.K."Still stunned by witnessing this turn of events…..Savitri talking about Love and Light, capturing the hearts of the audience, and in the next minute…CENSORED!!!! And by force!!! Whats up with that? Feels Orwellian!" – M.R."My dear teachers Aadil Palkhivala and Savitri Savitri have been kicked out of the Northwest Yoga Conference by Melissa Phillips-Hagedorn for no reason! This is absolutely disrespectful! Aadil Palkhivala was nominated by Pacific Northwest community as a luminary and leader of the yoga world and was too sick to receive his award. His wife went to receive it on his behalf and was aggressively kicked off stage. Aadil has been featured countless times in Yoga Journal, won countless awards from 425 Magazine, filmed for Yoga International and Alive & Shine Center (formerly Yoga Centers), their home studio has won Best of Western Washington, best of 425 Magazine every year. This is NOT YOGA!" – M.Y.
Posted by Zenia Lumeria on Friday, February 23, 2018
Savitri is a yoga master in her own right, and, of course, a human deserving of respect. There is obviously a backstory here, and I have no idea what it is. As of this writing, the conference has declined to comment and has deleted any negative comments about the incident on social media. What I do know is that this was handled atrociously. At the very best, they overreacted to a person who was less than one minute over her allocated time. At the worst? Well, I don’t want to think about the worst.
Even though I’ve made my living teaching yoga and training yoga teachers for 17 years, I’ve never felt part of the “yoga community” in Seattle. Instead, I’ve created community with my students. I’ve been wondering lately if that was a mistake. Honestly, I’m still not sure. Watching this, however, I’m convinced that the issue holding me back is real. Yoga is losing it’s ethics, it’s roots, and it’s power. Yoga was never about trendy fashion, competitive stretching, or perfecting your handstand. It’s about finding clarity, personal balance, and fostering active compassion.
May we get back to that soon.