Ex-follower of Bikram Choudhury: Is Greg Gumucio a sexual predator?
Yoga legend Bikram Choudhury famously fled the country in disgrace after numerous sexual assault allegations against him in 2016. Five women sued Choudhury, claiming there was a “cult-like atmosphere” within his inner circle, because these men would find Choudhury women he could assault.
So when one of the men who used to be in Bikram Choudhury’s circle, Greg Gumucio, was also accused of sexual harassment himself, it came as no shock. Gumucio had been accused of rape before, and though he distanced himself from Choudhury when he opened his yoga studio Yoga to the People, it’s clear he kept some of Choudhury’s tactics, and we’re not talking yoga poses.
Vice put out a report about Gumucio after an Instagram account went live airing all the dirty laundry of the abusive work environment at Yoga to the People. Interviewing over 30 people who’ve worked with Gumucio since the mid 90s, a clear picture was painted of the yoga instructor: a predator who’s hungry for being the most powerful person in the room.
A culture of fear
Unsurprisingly, Yoga to the People hired a lot of young women who were bright, and a lot of times, emotionally vulnerable. With them as part of Gumucio’s company, it was easy for him to strike. At boozy lunches and dinners, Gumucio would make his move on his employees, specifically targeting women going through a hard time.
One former student of Gumucio, Heather Fantin, spoke about how she got an icky feeling at times while in the Yoga to the People studio. But she became close with Gumucio, and became a yoga teacher, which made her the perfect victim for his harassment.
For example, Gumucio invited Bikram Choudhury out to Seattle and paid for everything to help Fantin’s training, but he held it over her head and implied that she would be stalked if she didn’t follow through with becoming a teacher. Then, he left Fantin alone with Choudhury and Fantin alleges that Choudhury kissed her and tried to convince her to sleep with him.
Revealing secrets as a hire requirement
Many of the teachers hired for Yoga to the People reflected back on the teacher training prospective hires would go through, and while it’s not completely abnormal, the “arm raising” days were often seen as problematic. On these days, the new hires would raise their arms up and down for an hour, which many said wasn’t helpful at all.
But at the end of the session, the hires would all gather in a circle and share their deepest, darkest secrets. Many noticed how Gumucio only came to teacher training on these days, and those who got personal and actually shared dark secrets were the ones who got hired, and even promoted to manager quickly.
Really, the biggest characteristic all these stories share is inappropriate touching. Gumucio would use his power to try and massage women, touch them inappropriately, or get inappropriately close to Gumucio. While there were no active claims of sexual assault, it’s clear his intentions were of a sexual nature.
Greg Gumucio was far from perfect to begin with, but it’s clear based on claims made by his former employees that he has a power hungry attitude that is his downfall. We’ll see if any lawsuits come about because of these allegations.