#026: Petri Räisänen | Learning From The Past

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Scott talks to colleague and yoga teacher Petri Räisänen about his life as a yoga teacher and as one of the most respected names in Ashtanga yoga. Petri is deeply open and honest about his relationship to Mysore over the years and Petri and Scott talk about how we can move on from the abuses of Pattabhi Jois.

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We'd like to invite you to join our growing Stillpoint Online Ashtanga Yoga and Mindfulness community. We live stream beginner classes, Ashtanga Yoga assisted self practice and guided classes with evening mindfulness sessions over 6 days with Scott Johnson and the Stillpoint teaching faculty. It's a beautiful way to navigate these times...

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In this podcast we talk about the sexual abuse commited by Pattabhi Jois on a number of his students over the years. While this conversation centres Petri's experience, it is not meant to detract from the victim’s experience. We acknowledge the sexual abuses and other abuses of power that have happened in the Ashtanga community and the ways in which community members can be trained not to see the abuses that happen in plain sight. This denial serves to hide the abuse and creates a culture that is unsafe for victims. It is our hope that this conversation will help those who are also in a process of reckoning with their relationship to yoga practice and community.

Below are links to the victims testimony and others of relevant interest:

Karen Rain’s #metoo testimony

Jubliee Cooke’s #metoo testimony

Anneke Lucas’s testimony

Silenced Voices – A panel discussion involving Karen Rain, Jubilee Cooke and others on sexual abuse in the yoga community.

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Petri Räisänen is an internationally renowned and highly respected Ashtanga yoga teacher. He began practising in 1989, and has studied with teachers such as Derek Ireland, Radha Warrel, and Eddie Stern. In 2001, he was authorised to teach Ashtanga yoga by Pattabhi and Sharath Jois.

Petri has been teaching since 1991. In 1997 he founded Ashtanga Yoga Helsinki with his friend and colleague, Juva Javanainen. He teaches in Finland and internationally alongside his wife, Wambui Njuguna-Räisänen.

Petri’s teaching integrates healing therapy with yoga. He draws on his work as a traditional Finnish folk healer and naturopath, which he combines with his own experience of practising and teaching. He is known for his gentle, effective, and therapeutic - almost ‘magical’ - adjustments.

He is the author of “Ashtanga Yoga – The Yoga Tradition of K. Pattabhi Jois” (2005), written in collaboration with Pattabhi and Sharath Jois; and “Nadi Sodhana” (2008), which includes interviews with Pattabhi and Sharath Jois.

You can find out more about Petri’s teaching schedule here.

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Petri and Scott talk about his early experiences with yoga and spirituality, working with prana while practising Finnish folk healing, practising with Derek Ireland and Radha Warrel in Finland and Crete, how he consciously changed his teaching style to a gentle approach, the injuries and sexual abuse inflicted by Pattabhi Jois and the conditions that allowed them to continue, the intergenerational abuse going back to Krishnamacarya and how Ashtanga might be able to heal moving forward, learning from and working with his wife Wambui, learning from the past to create a safer future.

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Petri Räisänen is one of the most respected names in Ashtanga yoga. His honesty in this conversation really moved me and helped me to start to see the intensity that surrounded the 90's era of Ashtanga yoga and how the abuses of Pattabhi Jois were missed by those who were there. I came away from this conversation deeply respectful of how Petri is trying to change himself by looking at the mistakes of the past and the way we can move the sharing Ashtanga Yoga forward...

Scott Johnson - January 2021

If you enjoyed this podcast then you might also enjoy Scott’s conversations with…

Wambui Njuguna Räisänen, Greg Nardi, Ian Cheney

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