The favorite and most commonly used yoga posture to inflict punishment on us was a painful and unnatural variation of Downward Dog, or Adho mukha śvānāsana. This posture is ignorantly referred to as 'triangle pose' in Yogi Bhajan's yoga manuals and by his current ill-informed student teachers. He clearly didn't actually have a deep respect nor understanding of yoga, or, he wanted to mark his territory on yoga by renaming 5,000 year old asanas.
The original Downward Dog pose consists of distributing body weight evenly between the hands and feet, creating a triangle shape with the hips being the apex.
The sadistic version consisted of children being forced to put their legs up on a wall to redistribute the body weight onto the hands and arms, often times with gravel under the hands.
Then we were forced to stay that way sometimes for as long as 45 minutes baking in the sun, all the while listening to personally aimed derogatory remarks and humiliating commentary by the given authority figure.
Following is a story about Murgha excerpted from the Live Your Life blog...
We were punished a lot. Even before India, at children's camp, we were often given very unreasonable and bizarre punishments. I'll go into those children's camps again soon... Sometimes I think GNFC was actually a haven from those camps - once we were sent off to school, we didn't have to go to camp anymore.
As I process a jumble of memories from that time, when some of us were as young as six years old, I think of our bizarre, and well, cruel and unusual punishments. The most common corporal punishment for the small children at GNFC was murgha (rooster). Murgha was humiliating - we were often singled out by the teachers, sent to the corner and ordered to crouch down, wrap our arms under our knees and pinch our own ears. There were times that a group of children were ordered tot do murgha - when it became a little easier to bare, but then the matron or teacher would still manage to single a kid out and make him or her perform the punishment for a longer, more unreasonable amount than others. The position cuts off circulation to the legs and head and caused dizziness, headaches, and leg aches. If the kids rear-end wasn't low enough, the teacher would hit it with a cane - more punishment.
What were the provocations that led to murgha? Geez, I can barely remember - I remember it being ordered almost randomly, and because of the tiniest infraction, like being last in line or losing your toothbrush. I was actually a good kid, and like I said in previous posts, I managed to stay under the radar. But I remember having to do murgha all the time! It didn't matter if you were a troublemaker or not - the punishment was across the board and systematic.
Murgha is a tradtional punishment (and when I say traditional, I mean, yes, they still make kids do it!). The most sadistic part is that it really only can be done by small children, who are still flexible and skinny!
So I wonder how this Indian tradition fit in with the ideologies of 3HO. When we told our parents what we had to do, they shrugged it off. They had already used other, perhaps less torturous, yoga poses as punishments, and they were already conditioned to throw us into a cold shower, clothes and all - and they thought those things were okay to do, because Yogi Bhajan said it was and in fact was the one to teach it to them.
All three: Murgha, Yoga as punishment, and cold showers ALL fit under the same umbrella of corporal punishment, and in America corporal punishment is abuse. Perhaps it was more convenient for YB to have us be in a land that hadn't considered that yet.
IMHO, child abuse is any treatment that is shaming or causes a child to feel "less than" : Less than loveable, less than good, less than deserving of respect and kindness. What you sweet, precious children went through was profoundly abusive.
Your stories fill me with concern and questions:
Having survived such abuse, how does it affect you now? Are you OK? Are you still in touch with your school comrades? How are they doing?
Have any of you gotten any therapy or counseling? Do you think it would help?
What do you need now?
Having survived such abuse, and there's a whole lot more that wasn't mentioned, it has had an accumulative effect on my sense of self and my well-being. I received a brain scan once and the doctor was shocked that my base level brainwave state was anxiety off the charts. I think he was surprised that I was even functional.
Because of post traumatic stress residue, I find it very difficult to concentrate at times. It doesn't take much at all to get my stress response circuits going, adrenalin and heart pounding with anxiety.
Therapy and counceling would be good, though I cannot afford it. I think something that could reset my nervous system and neutralize the trauma would be helpful. I have heard of EMDR, and would like to try that. In the past I was obsessed with trying to 'fix' myself, trying everything under the sun. Everything seemed to only have a band-aid effect, unfortunately. I keep trying to create financial stability in the hopes I can one day afford to get the help I do need...though this dream eludes me.
Been hearing a lot of good things about Dialectical Behavior Therapy for PTSD. Will post about it in the Support and Healing forum when I have some time.
You take care of yourself.
Nevertheless, I always feel like apologizing from my whole generation to yours about all the terrible things you had to endure.
Many KY yoga postures would be considered "stress postures," which are used as torture and interrogation tools during wartime and by "intelligence" agencies. How awful to torture innocent children. It's a crime.
I can totally relate to having a brain based "disorder" related to early and ongoing trauma. It's not really a disorder in that it's how the brain naturally responds to these aberrant types of experiences. And as you've found out, you can't pull yourself out of it by will.
It's virtually impossible to over-ride how the brain responds to extreme and ongoing stress/trauma, so I hope you don't feel like you've failed or something. To me it seems that the way you keep going and striving for eventual healing is a testament to your resilience despite everything that has happened to you.
As forget-me-not has mentioned, DBT has proven really helpful for people who have trauma brains. Also, as you mention, EMDR, which uses the senses of sight, hearing or touch to help distract your brain from the original trauma while you build new neural pathways. It seems to work really well for a lot of people.
It's so frustrating to me that the people who need help the most are also often impoverished or don't have access to the systems that could provide help.
I hope your state has made the ACA benefits available for you. If you want some help locating EMDR or DBT resources nearby, please get in touch with me. I'm a licensed mental health counselor (retired) so I know my way around these systems a little.
- Posts: 4
- Joined: Tue Jul 21, 2020 6:52 pm
Yoga-Torturers and the Jap-Sahib Shuffle:
These abusers used painful adaptations of yoga postures by force to torture children.
(See previous posts for more details.)
A loud recording of Jap Sahib was also used regularly as torture, making kids shuffle in
place in the hot sun, kicking their heels forward, for hours at a time.
Former staff member at GNFC School, GRD Academy
Sadistic and creepy 'nurse' (Think Stephen King's 'Misery') she enjoyed torturing the
children with yoga postures, the Jap Sahib shuffle and sex ed as a weapon of emotional
and psychological abuse.
Siri Akal Singh
Former staff member GNFC School, GRD Academy
A sadistic man who reveled in the power he had over vulnerable children,
used yoga as torture and punishment and enjoyed emotionally and psychologically
abusing the children.
(Favorite books: Lord of the Flies and the Red Dragon)
Nanakdev Singh (deceased)
Former staff member GNFC School
This sadistic Yogi Bhajan appointed 'guide' used yoga postures and the
martial art of Gutka to torture children.
- Note: Many adult 3HO members visiting India in the '80s, witnessed Nanakdev's sadistic
abuse of children first-hand and instead of defending the kids and reporting the abuse,
in many cases these visiting members seemed to be charmed by him.
Instead of protecting us many adult female 3HO members busied themselves with lots of obnoxious flirting with Nanakdev, batting their eyelashes at him and encouraging his behavior.