The following article contains allegations of sexual abuse.
Claims made about Dechen Thurman, the younger brother of actress Uma Thurman, suggest some of his interactions with his students as a yoga teacher over the years may not have been as healthy as one might expect, according to a report by Page Six. Uma and Dechen spent part of their childhood in India as their father is a scholar of Tibet, Tibetan Buddhism and Asian languages through Columbia University. Given her upbringing, it is therefore not surprising that Dechen chose to teach yoga as an adult.
Even more shocking is that, based on the Page Six report, Dechen claims the allegations made against him or the classes he taught at the Jivamukti Yoga School, a high-profile studio in New York’s Manhattan that has been closed, does not seem to have denied in 2019, according to Yoga Journal. This is also not the only time that the yoga teacher made headlines with more than just his spiritualism.
Dechen Thurman reportedly had sexual relations with college students
Referring to news published on the website yoganonymous.com, Page Six reported that Dechen Thurman said, “Sometimes there are five or six women in the class that I’ve slept with.” This quote is said to be from Maria Sliwa, a former student in Thurman’s yoga classes. Sliwa said: “I was a close friend of Dechen’s and he told me that he suffers from sex addiction. He is a good teacher but he has problems with women and his technique is unfortunately very practical. It is unsafe for the students. He needs therapy.”
Sliwa, at the time a professor at Columbia University, reportedly brought her concerns to the director of Jivamukti Yoga School, who replied that action was being taken. However, Sliwa said: “The whole thing was swept under the rug.”
An article published by the Daily Mail on the same claims cites a Facebook post by Sliwa, in which she says: “When the school promised me many things but didn’t deliver, I had no choice but to take this to the public forum . I don’t think his current situation at Jivamukti is safe for him or others.”
Dechen Thurman has been criticized for his own Facebook post
In 2016, the New York Daily News reported that Dechen Thurman had posted a photo to Facebook showing him with a gun, which was an obvious prop for an acting role he was given. The post did not go down well with everyone. A source told the New York Daily News, “I’m furious to see Dechen posing with guns on Facebook as he turns his nose up at all the allegations of the Jivamukti sex scandal.” However, it’s unclear if other people have leveled allegations against Thurman to have.
Since Jivamukti closed, Thurman appears to have been working for Menla as a therapist at his spa, according to his website. The website’s footer states, “Menla is a project of Tibet House US, the Dalai Lama’s non-profit Tibetan cultural center 501c3 in America.” At the time of publication, Menla does not appear to have addressed Maria Sliwa’s claims about Thurman.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, help is available to help. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact the RAINN National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).