Members of the RA MA Institute in Venice, California have been gathering in person over the past week for multiple daily sessions to mourn the death of the Institute’s co-founder, Katie Griggs, also known as Guru Jagat. Some livestreams show dozens of attendees sitting shoulder to shoulder, without masks.
The gatherings ignore the Los Angeles County Public Health ordinance issued July 31st, which states that “because the County is currently experiencing high rates of COVID-19 community transmission, all persons, in indoor public and business settings, must wear a face mask regardless of vaccination status.”
On August 8, LA County Public Health reported over 3000 new COVID cases. Test positivity and hospitalization rates are both increasing rapidly.
The celebrations dedicated to Griggs involve chanting, rhythmic hyperventilation, and forced laughing. These are standard within Kundalini Yoga, which Griggs taught. While said to have ancient roots, these exercises were repurposed by Kundalini Yoga founder and serial sexual assaulter Yogi Bhajan in the early 1970s.
Researchers have been clear for over a year that singing in closed spaces increases risk of aerosol transmission. An email to RA MA Institute asking why they were choosing to ignore the mask ordinance went unanswered.
Griggs, who reportedly died of a pulmonary embolism following ankle surgery, was an outspoken anti-masker. Last summer she responded to the first wave of LA Country mask ordinances with the claim they were “unconstitutional”. She also stated that the virus was not real, nor was it contagious, and encouraged her followers to watch Mikki Willis’s pseudo-documentary, Plandemic.
Her anti-masking stance was not unique amongst fellow yoga celebrities and teachers. During a pandemic that has torn the industry to shreds through the proliferation of conspiracy theories, anti-mask sentiments play on several key New Age themes, which falsely posit that masks:
- Restrict oxygen and expressiveness.